Many years ago, when we went on one of our first cruises, I was captivated by the art auctions. I l loved seeing the high-quality art but I also enjoyed something else at the auction – discounted on-board amenities – like massages! I put out a bid on one, and I got it! A massage is a nice little luxury and I am sure I enjoyed it – but my take-away that day was this – ambient light, a lightly trickling little fountain and soft music. There was a whole feeling in that little room that had nothing to do with a massage. I wanted that feeling in my home.
So, I came home and bought the little fountain, turned on the soft music and added a few more candles and voila! Well, not quite, but you get the idea. It can make a difference. I realized that with a few inexpensive items I could create an atmosphere in my home that was peaceful, relaxing and maybe even a bit inspiring.
When I began teaching art classes I took this idea with me. I always thoroughly cleaned any space where I taught till it smelled amazing. I created gallery walls of art for inspiration. I lit the candles or air purifiers; when I could, I added fresh flowers, or a beautiful orchid in a pot as part of the still life; I cued the music and I laid out the tables with all the supplies needed to serve my students the best I knew how.
In my home studio / gallery space I do the same. I walk in and turn on the lights I need. I light my candles. I cue the music – orchestral and grand, sometimes, French and fun – and when the weather is nice, I open the doors. I tie on my favorite apron and I begin.
Even my morning routine of quiet time reading and writing is accompanied by a candle. That singular flicker is both celebratory and comforting. It is my way of creating an altar space for offering my heart to God as I begin the day. When I light a candle before I paint it is the same thing. It is a request, a prayer of sorts, for help, for inspiration, for thanksgiving.
Which brings me to your space. One of the first rules I offer to my students who desire to grow in their craft is that they must have a dedicated space. It may not be a building, or a whole room – a corner will do for many of you. But your art must be out. It must be set up.
Why? Because, if you have to get it out, set it up, do your craft, take it down, and clean it up - YOU WILL NEVER DO IT! Life is full. There are already so many things to do and to clean up after – if your art is just on that “to do” list it will only seem like work. Your art, your craft, must feel like a sweet and inviting luxury – like a massage. And so, you must create this space.
You must set it up. And you must leave it up. (I know, my perfectionist friend, it will be a little bit messy – you will have to learn to live with that.) But when your art is out, it will call to you. You will wander through while on the phone and you will want to pick up your brush and paint – and you will. You will walk though and think of an idea – and you will jot it down. You will see your art and it will invite you to come and play. And then one day…
You will go to that space and you will light a candle, and you will turn on your music, and you will put your hand to your craft and you will slowly relax and breathe easier, and before you know it, you will feel a million miles away – just like on a cruise ship.
Finding Joy in the Journey,
P.S. Creating your atmosphere is like setting a beautiful table for a scrumptious meal - It takes a little added effort, but the end result is an enhanced experience. The food may taste the same, but when the table is beautiful we feed our soul, not just our body.