I recently had reason to think about the physical aspects of creating art. This made me think more widely about how the act of creating can affect artists.
How The Act of Creating Can Affect Artists
The Impact Of The Colours We Use In Our Art
I have written many times about how the use of colour can contribute to the mood of a room and provide a healing experience. I summarised some of my thoughts in my May 2016 blog on Colour Perspectives.
But if you think about it, as well as the viewer being affected by the colours used in the artwork, the artist is also affected. During the act of creating artists are exposed to the effects of the very colours they work with. Some times we may even make a colour choice that we wish to work with because we need that colour ourselves. For example, if I am feeling tired or cold I tend to work with the warmer colours, particularly red. This makes sense as red is vibrant, warming and energetic.
Similarly, you will find that many of my works that depict life in Italy in the heat of the summer have been worked on to reduce glare and calm down the depiction of heat. I have added a blue tinge, a cooling colour, to many. This includes working with Lago Trasimeno, a vast expanse of water that could just reflect sunshine. I work with the images to ‘calm them down’ and create a feeling of coolness, peace and tranquility.
Mental and Emotional Stimulation During The Act of Creating
As well as being impacted by colour, the subject matter for an artist might be uplifting or sad. The artist may be affected either way. Maybe the artist is depicting an event or working through something that has happened in their own lives. The actual act of creating may be cathartic in those circumstances. Creating art is stimulating both mentally and emotionally. I know artists who pour their hearts out onto a canvas and emerge from their studio several days later totally drained by the experience.
The Physical Impact of The Act of Creation
How Artists Work
When I am working on an acrylic painting in my studio I play a lot of loud music and usually stand to paint at an easel. Well, okay, to be honest, I am usually dancing while I paint (arthritic knees allowing). One of my artist friends kneels on the floor to paint on her canvases. I have another who has a beautiful studio set up and she sits at a large table where she creates her images. Yet another sits cross legged on the floor to paint. Then there are those who like to work plein air, sitting on the grass or on rocks, sketching or painting the scenery.
There will be other examples of how artists work of course, but they all involve a physical impact. How long can you kneel on the floor before you can’t get up I wonder? I never kneel as, with my knees, I would never get up again.
Impact Of The Art Of Creating On Me
The main impact of the act of creating on me is how long I spend at a computer on my photoart. Yes, there is a ‘healthy’ element to photography. In my case it involves going out and about and walking around taking the photos that form the basis for my work. Lots of fresh air and sunshine.
Where it goes wrong is when I get back home. I may have 300 or more photographs to process and I am always keen to have a look at them as soon as possible. For some, I want to see if they have come out how I expected. Then the need to work on them kicks in. Particularly if I have a picture in my head of how I want the final image to look. I have written before about how I feel driven to work on those sorts of images until they match the picture in my head.
So I don’t just stop at looking at the photographs. I start to work on more and more on them and I seem to be incapable of doing them in small batches. I spend many hours sitting staring at the screen working away at my creations. That is where the trouble starts. I forget to drink, I forget to eat and the time goes by. Sometimes three or four hours at a stretch. And when I finally come to move, my ankles, knees and back are locked up and I perhaps have a stiff neck. Even though I have enjoyed what I have been doing (mentally and emotionally) I am usually exhausted physically.
That is what led me to buy a Fitbit (see video below). I bought a Fitbit Charge 2 which will monitor all sorts of things that I might (or might not!) get up to, but will also give me a nudge every hour to make me get up and move around. Anything that helps support my work as an artist is worth a try!
I just produced my first vlog on Facebook, created as a live video. Not too many disasters happened and the feedback so far is great. In my vlog I talk about some plans for stories in my written blog and a new podcast series I am planning. It also includes a section where I open the packaging on my new Fitbit! Click below to watch the vlog.
Before you go
My name is Dorothy Berry-Lound an artist and writer. You can find out more about my art and writing at https://dorothyberryloundart.com.
Thank you for reading!