Three Pumpkins and an Epiphany

Part of working in my new studio is figuring out the best workflow. Where do I store everything, what do I use as my main workbench, where do I put book covers under weight to dry… And how I start my work day has been a topic of thought for a quite a while.

I’ve heard many artists mention that they have a daily activity to help themselves make the transition from daily life to making art. For some it is a daily sketch, others a ritual like Mr. Roger’s changing of the shoes and sweater, others still use a writing activity.

I’ve tried the daily writing, taking daily photographs (which I enjoy but I find distracts me from what I meant to do that day…), making a miniature book daily, and doing a daily Zentangle. But none of these things seems to get me “in the zone.”

This morning I carved my pumpkins and, while I was washing the seeds out of that gross mushy stuff they live in, I had my epiphany. I had the water running, my hands in the water sorting seeds from strings and all of a sudden I realized that I was in that zen moment. Do you know the one I mean when you feel completely physically relaxed and at peace and your mind is wandering creatively? “Quick,” I thought to myself, “pay attention to why you feel this way.”

I realized that cleaning those pumpkin seeds was like paper making and darkroom printing and making cyanotypes… all of those things I love to do and can do for an entire day without having any idea what time is passing. And all of them involve water and my hands in it. Hmm.

I was a teacher for a lot of years and I always had water available for the kids to play in. Sure there were math concepts of measurement, color concepts of mixing, but mostly it was because of the calming effect of water on young children. Perhaps my brain is like a distracted and over active young child. Hmm.

So I think I have finally found my answer to how I need to start my creative day. Apparently I need my hands in water doing a repetitive and relaxing activity so that my creative brain can get going. (Of course my loving husband will argue that doing the dishes is such an activity.) So what activity can I do each day without making a mess that takes valuable studio time to clean up. Hmm.

I’ll let you know more about this as I figure it out.

Do you have a daily activity to start your creative practice? Please feel free to tell us about it in the comments!

While I am typing this blog entry I am eating the freshly roasted pumpkin seeds from the above mentioned zen moment. Here is my favorite roasted seed recipe in case you haven’t roasted yours yet.

Garlic Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

  • 2 cups pumpkin seeds
  • 2 TBS worcestershire sauce
  • 2 TBS butter (melted)
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • Mix all, spread on a cookie sheet  and roast at 275 degrees until golden brown.

Happy Halloween!


2 responses to “Three Pumpkins and an Epiphany

  1. That sounds like a great way for you to start your day …. water play.
    Now tell me …. how do I find the time for daily art?????
    Maybe somewhere between midnight and 6 am… oh, no, I remember, that’s sleeping time.

    Speaking of papermaking (you did, didn’t you?) …
    When would you like to come and pick up the plant fibers. They’re just waiting for you…

  2. This year I began a daily stitching practice. Each AM I stitch an arms-length piece of embroidery floss onto a 4″ square of muslin. I keep all my supplies in a small shaker box close to my chair so everything is ready to use each day. It has become a very satisfying daily ritual that keeps my artist active in spite of having to go to a demanding and non-creative job every day.

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