Going with the flow.

Some years ago I was engaged in a process of attempting to understand creative acts and my own creativity in particular. This was brought about by a need to find out more about what made me tick. Like many creative people I’m sure, I’ve often found myself wondering what exactly it was that I was good at why being unsure about it was making working life quite confusing and unrewarding. Coincidentally my partner was beginning to investigate the meaning of creativity around about the same time and through her own investigations introduced to me the concept of flow.

I had never come across this idea before but, very quickly I understood that it was something I’d encountered many times in both my professional and private life. Like many of these kinds of things it’s a very simple idea but people manage to write whole books about it. In simple terms the best way I can describe it is that it is primarily a state of mind.


Have you ever engaged in an activity and lost all track of time? Have you ever been so engrossed in something that you’ve not heard the telephone ring, or suddenly looked up from a task and wondered where the day went? Have you ever been so into making something that all problems encountered are easily solved and progress seems to just come naturally? Well, if any of these has happened to you then most likely you have been in flow.


Understanding this concept has helped me hugely in recognising what I like doing most in work and play. It has enabled me to make much more informed choices about what work to take on and why sometimes I feel like I’m flogging a dead horse.


This finished colour representation of the second of my printed out sketches onto watercolour paper emerged from a concentrated afternoon spent mostly in flow. I have no idea how long it really took, not that it matters, and I got so engrossed in it that the day just vanished in a blur of paints, brushes and water. Not having really done a full colour drawing like this for some time I threw myself into rediscovering how to get the paints to move around the painting and what happens when you put paint on a wetted surface and a dry surface. It sounds simple but I’ve found it’s easy to forget all of the little tricks one develops for oneself to get things looking how you want them. There are a couple of things not quite right with it, like needing more variance in my greys. But there are also some great things about it too. I’d forgotten how vibrant the liquid watercolours I use for some parts can be (Dr. Ph. Martin’s Radiant concentrated water colours, hopefully available at all good art shops worth their salt). The red for the tank really helps the image to jump off the page which is such a satisfying outcome, for me anyway. I’m attending the 50th birthday party for a very old friend this weekend and I’m so pleased with this image I think I’ll give it to him as a present. He’s a bit of a bike nut too, so here’s hoping he’ll like it.


The first sketch, with the mechanic behind the bike, is very nearly done too so I’ll post that up in a day or so. The bigger biro drawing of the big single cylinder cafe racer is coming along well to and will be here soon. Watch this space.



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