The Flow of Art

Drawing of a canvas on an easel

We went on vacation to Santa Fe last month. Although it was our first time there, we felt at home. It’s a place we’ll be revisiting.

One memorable experience was walking into the Dane Wells Gallery with Gary, Fox, and Ava. We were exploring the area when the paintings in the window drew us in.

The abstract paintings, each with their own color palette, brought to mind different scenes. As we walked around the gallery, we talked about the ones we were drawn to, what we saw in them, and how they made us feel.

The artist, Dane Wells, was there and we ended up talking to him for half an hour. He showed us time-lapse videos of how he creates his paintings and answered our questions, like why did he stop to rotate the canvas while working on the painting? Answer: So the brush strokes come from multiple angles, which provides balance and allows the painting to be hung in any orientation.

Dane had an easel set up in the gallery with a piece he was working on. He said that he paints there and will stop to greet people and talk about his art, like he was doing with us.

To me, an interruption while I’m in the midst of creating something is frustrating. But he didn’t feel that way about it. He approaches his art with patience, with pieces taking weeks and months to complete.

We tend to think of being in the state of flow as an uninterrupted focus on our craft.

But Dane’s state of flow is all-encompassing. Stopping and starting isn’t an interruption, it’s part of the process. It all becomes part of the art.

This mindset lends itself to a sense of ease.

Errands aren’t an interruption of life; they’re part of life.

Doing the dishes isn’t something to rush through before we begin our evening routine; it’s part of our evening routine.

My therapist taught me a little mental trick. When feeling stressed or rushed, slow down. Exaggerate it – go really slow.

This practice is particularly potent in the grocery store. Most shoppers are trying to get done as quickly as possible, so the difference in pace is tangible. It feels like my mind and body are sinking into a luxurious time bath.

Inspired by Dane’s approach to his craft, this article is titled The Flow of Art, but it’s just as important to apply that mindset to life in what would be The Art of Flow.

- Matt

PS. Here’s a video walk-through of the Dane Wells Gallery

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