Creative calm in nature: journal painting outside
Well it definitely feels like a third year in a row where we are all having to still be careful, stay away from crowds, and manage a continued sense of uncertinaty. As someone who works from a home studio already, I can’t help feel lucky that my work day can continue closely to normal. (Although managing a small business where we are going in and out of close contact isolation still leads to a low level of stress and loss of productivity; after all, orders still have to ship out, and the show must go on!)
Personally I am also longing for travel again. I am daydreaming of exploring, and adventure, but have decided to put that idea on hold while this current spread of the virus is at its peak. Like most of us, I have stopped going to crowded indoor events or gatherings of more than one or two people. And whilst this moment in time feels slightly better than a lockdown; I personally still feel a sense of anxiety and isolation. And I am guessing that I’m not the only one.
Something I have found helpful at this time is combining connecting back to nature (simply in a local park) and creativity. And when mingled together, this really can be a very simple act of creative meditation. Packing a blanket, some watercolour paper, brushes and travel paints, I take myself to a local park and find a shady spot to set up. You can do this too with a watercolour journal or watercolour pad. It’s a little like you might do when actually on holiday. Adding in some lovely nibbles as a combined picnic experience can be a welcome option! Food just always tastes better outside!
Take time to set yourself up. This is all about slowing down and letting go of all of the things on your ‘to do’ list, both at home and at work. Give yourself permission to not think about anything else but this calm and creative experience. Enjoy your picnic slowly, then set up to paint. You might just be inspired by the botanicals and flowers around you. (This also takes the decision making out of what to paint!) Or work on something specific.
Pay attention to the mindful feeling of mixing up paint colours and testing them out on a testing page. It’s up to you if you wish to sketch in pencil first; or just go straight in with paint! Remember there is no perfect piece to create, no ‘right’ subject or way to paint here. This is just a chance to be out in nature, to slow down and feel a sense of creativity.
If you find yourself being little judgemental about your work, it’s ok to notice that, just like with traditional meditation when thoughts and stresses pop into the mind. Let these thoughts of judgement drift away like clouds and either carry on anyway or start a new piece. The outcome of your work here is actually not important. Taking time for yourself to not have to be ‘productive’ in a relaxing outdoor environment where your mind can relax, is the key.
Being an introvert, I personally love this kind of ritual on my own, but if you have your kids with you, you might like to set them up too, to also have a moment outdoors and away from screens. Remind them to focus on exploring colour, rather than creating a perfect painting.
And if like me you do tend to suffer from anxiety, and or just feel a little exhausted and overwhelmed about the world at the moment (and have also burnt through everything current on Netflix) I hope this idea sparks a quiet, calm and relaxing afternoon for you.
A moment of creative meditation can be joy for the soul.