Momentum, Interrupted

In my last post I described how I was coming down with a bug and that my creativity suffered as a result.  The silver lining was that I was forced to pause, and in doing so, I remembered why I love to paint and was able to share this realization and gratitude with you, my readers.

I came down with the flu and had to hit pause for over a week.  Ten days later, I’m finally able to think clearly and have the energy to go about daily life.  But I feel like the momentum I had with the fresh start of 2013 was interrupted – at work, with my art, and with this blog.  So, I decided to do a little research on momentum.

Momentum is considered a cornerstone of physics and has been defined as the ability of an object to continue moving because of its mass and velocity.  Psychological momentum has been defined in relation to perceptions of moving towards a goal, and is often characterized as either being positive (things seem to go right) or negative (things seem to go wrong). It seems that most of the research on this has been done in sports, but we experience the phenomenon in business and the arts also.  We perceive that certain events – meeting a milestone, encouragement from others, an increase in marketing budget – can alter our creative momentum positively, while other events – falling behind in our work and art, a criticism, a decrease in marketing budget, getting sick! – can alter our creative momentum negatively.

So, how does one recover or maintain creative momentum?  I needed to answer this question for myself as I headed back to work and into the studio this week, and I hope this helps you, too.  I realized that it is vital for me to stay focused, to tackle one thing at a time, in time.  I am focused on the moment – preparing to lead another ideation session at work, tackling the unanswered emails one by one, re-reading a terrific book on artists’ studios – and committed to a high level of intensity of effort while enjoying the experiences.

Another important thing one can do to reverse negative momentum is to be proactive and change things.  Trying something different forces focus and courage.  The last time I felt my momentum had been interrupted, Michael (my art instructor) suggested I stop working on a technique painting to work on something different – the painting of my father.  Changing things up for a while enabled me to eventually return to the technique lesson on learning to paint architecture, and I worked through and finished City of Stones and Saints (Avila) with the same intensity and joy I have felt on every other painting I’ve completed.

What do you think?  How have you overcome momentum interruption?  Please share your experiences by leaving a reply.

City of Stones and SaintsOil on Canvas, 16.5" x 34"© 2013 Teresa de Onis
City of Stones and Saints, Oil on Canvas, 16.5″ x 34″
© 2013 Teresa de Onis

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