Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Being in the Zone

Have you ever been "in the zone?" I recently came across two different blogs that discussed the condition of “being in the zone.”

The first blog (Exact Sports) wrote about the zone as it relates to athletes and the second (John Pototschnik Fine Art) about artists.

I assume that many of you have experienced, at one time or another, the feeling of being in the zone. I know that I have. I remember times when I was surfing or boogie boarding. For hours, the only thing that I was aware of were the ebb and flow of the waves. No other problems or thoughts entered my mind. I was fully absorbed within the blanket of nature. I have also experienced this feeling as an artist.

Occasionally, I find that hours have passed without my awareness as I have been working on a painting. I can only assume that I have been in the zone for that period of time. Either that or a time warp from space passed over my studio. I became totally lost in the creative process.

In 1999, a team of scientists and sports psychologists conducted a study that identified 10 essential elements of “the zone.” They are as follows:

1. Balance of challenge and skills

2. Complete absorption in the activity

3. Clear goals

4. Merging of action and awareness

5. Total concentration on the task at hand 

7. A sense of control

8. No goals or rewards external to the activity

9. Transformation of time

10. Effortless movement

Some of these elements are referenced by a couple of well-known artists as they describe "being in the zone."
Ken Backhaus, the famous painter, said, “Being in the zone is like a well-oiled machine, you are performing without hesitation, no distractions, and can push yourself and you respond, the challenges that are present or come up during the painting process become solved. The traditional sound principal and foundations guide your skills that you have acquired over the years. Confidence directs the eye and the hand. Everything within you and around you is in harmony.”

Marc Hanson, another premier artist, said, “It's easiest for me to find myself "in the zone" when outside on location, painting 'en plein air'. Almost every time that I paint outside, I'm there, in the zone. I think that's partly why I feel that is the most honest place for me to be painting. Having the time constraint of plein air painting, and the lack of any outside interference, except for the occasional passerby, makes it the ideal situation for me to find myself in that zone.”

I’ve come to understand that it’s not always possible to put yourself in the zone. It happens or it doesn’t happen. But, I've also been told that continual emersion in your practice, whether it be sports, music, carpentry or painting will provide more ability to focus and therefore create more opportunities to find yourself in the zone.
Whenever it happens, though, it feels really good -- doesn't it?

Thursday, February 14, 2013

The Light Chasers (the Sarasota chapter of Plein Air Florida) will hold it's 2nd Annual show from February 28 - March 28 at the Art Center Sarasota.

I have been associated with this great group of artists for quite a few months now and enjoy our weekly paint sessions immensely.

I will have one of my recent plein air paintings in the show, South Lido Morning (9"x12" oil on canvas wrapped board in a gold plein air frame - $320).

This painting was completed in a morning session at the south end of Lido Key (Sarasota, Florida). I wanted to capture the light hitting the building on the opposite shore as well as the various blue shades of the sky and turquoise green of the water. As the morning progressed, the wind came up and began to whip up the Gulf a little.

All in all, not a bad way to spend a February morning!