Demystifying The Flow State

You’ve probably heard the terms ‘in the zone’ or ‘the flow state’ passed around. If you’re a beginner artist you might be wondering when you’ll be good enough to enter into such a magical place. The truth is you can do it at ANY skill level!

The flow state is when time slows down and you’re so engrossed in what you’re doing that you can do it all day. It’s an indescribable feeling of joy and contentment in the present moment. Things flow together so smoothly and easily and each action that is taken goes to the next one, seemingly without thought. To put it simply… IT’S THE BEST!

You can experience this by doing all kinds of tasks, like writing, playing sports, or even driving. But what everyone is after is experiencing it in their own artmaking.

There are two ways to experience it as an artist. The first is to be really good at what you do, to the point of not having to think on it as much. But the good news for beginners is there is a second way. Here is the secret:

That’s it! Seriously!

When you draw or paint without results in mind, you can enter the flow state more easily, no matter your skill level.

When you see a child engrossed in finger painting or even coloring, they are probably in the flow state and we can access it too any time we let go and enjoy the ride. Of course, you can’t enter it if it’s your very first time using watercolors, but once you get the hang of your supplies (you don’t have to be a master) you can let go of the overthinking and enter it easily.

I actually have a class that’s about accessing it with watercolor. It’s called ‘Let’s Play! The Magic & FUN of Intuitive Painting.’ Out of my 30 classes, it is my highest-reviewed one based on the paragraphs people wrote on how it changed their lives.

The reaction is so strong because our society conditions us to go in the opposite direction.

We can’t make imperfect or ugly art, because then we’re ‘failures’. Art making becomes stressful and somehow a measure of our self-worth.

This is not how it’s supposed to be!

This is why I recommend intuitive painting for everyone. It shows us that art is SUPPOSED TO BE FUN! It also reconnects us to our inner child and now more than ever, EVERYONE needs that!

You can do this in whatever medium you use. Just let go and have fun! You are guaranteed to enter the flow state much easier if you do! If your favorite medium is pencil for example, just take time to doodle. If your medium is acrylic or oil, make an abstract piece!

Making art with your inner child isn’t the only way to get into the ‘flow’ state.

  • Master Your Craft! I know this one is the opposite of what I said. But remember the good news! If you get better and better at what you do, you will naturally not think about what you do and before you know it you’ll be making masterpieces in the flow state. How about that for motivation to keep learning & trying & failing & growing!?
  • Have Routines! Sports legends swear by this. If you always have a cup of matcha before making art, listening to calming music, or meditating, it will become a positive routine that will help you get into the right mindset. I try to do all three, but admittedly not every time.
  • Meditate! Meditation in itself is so powerful and beneficial for almost anything you can imagine. From improved sleep to more focus. The main benefit is living in the present moment, which correlates with the flow state. If you learn how to let your thoughts go and be aware of what you’re doing, you’ll get into the flow state! Speaking from personal experience, this helped me more than anything! Even with just 10 minutes a day, you will see benefits. There is no excuse not to try this, especially since there are so many apps and free YouTube videos of guided meditations! Go ahead and quiet that busy mind.
  • Remove Distractions! You can’t get into the flow state if you’re constantly being distracted. This means silence your phone and be sure to let any roommates/family members know that you need to not be disturbed when making art. If you live somewhere loud you can also get noise cancelling headphones or just put on music that you like to drown it out.
  • Warm-Up! Before you start the ‘serious’ work, set aside some time to warm up. It can be as quick as five minutes of just play, and this will in turn help you get into the flow state for your more serious work.
  • It’s OK to Fail! Remind yourself that it’s ok if you fail and if you do YOU CAN ALWAYS TRY AGAIN. You will learn A LOT from every failed piece. So instead of avoiding it and feeling anxious at the possibility, let what comes come. I noticed that when I put a lot of pressure on my work, I tend to do a bad job. Also, I don’t get into the flow state. So keep pressure and anxiety at bay by quieting that pesky inner critic. Failure is normal. We all do it. Embrace it.

That’s it for my tips. I hope you are more equipped to reach the flow state now. Remember, don’t force it. Just let it happen naturally. It will if you just do what you love and enjoy doing it!