Great analysis, Jennifer. I agree with you -- these seem to be my issues, too. I have noticed that if I can squeeze in some quick sketching before I go out to the plein-air session (such as sketching an apple at breakfast), it loosens me up and helps me go into my space (as I call it) easier. And taking it easy on the caffeine helps as well!
Donna in Pierrefonds, Québec
You really hit the mark here, no truer words could be spoken; Focus, Clarity, Release, are three words every artist should reflect upon prior to beginning any painting. I know this will change how i address my plein air sessions. thank you.
To me flow has absolutely nothing to do with magic rather the result of lots and lots of practice, knowledge and a willingness to respond to subtle moment-to-moment changes. I mentioned elsewhere in Artist Daily that a gymnast spends years learning, making errors, falling, maybe spraining and breaking a few bones. She gets back up and learns to tweak her position, focus on a muscle, try it again with a subtle change. Everything is in preparation for the performance. We all see the Olympic results - some are overcome with nerves and are still nursing an injury, while others are feeling healthy, strong, and confident. The subtle slip is overlooked because the final performance is breathtaking. At times, she scores perfect tens and we see the ease, acknowledge "magic" and forget the decades of work, hardships, heartbreaks, and torn ligaments. I recall reading either here or on a blog of a plein air painter who commented to a would-be buyer's remark over the expense of a painting done relatively quickly -- This painting did not take me three hours, it took me thirty-five years and three hours. (Not sure of the exact time and wording, but you get the idea.)
Sometimes the weather is just right, we ate well, nothing aches, our timing is right. We focus in in blocking in our painting, we know what we want to create, and then the branch falls, Oops! so then we re-evaluate, hmm maybe I can change this... and it works, We accidentally pick up a little of a wrong color and we decide to adapt the area and it works out well. Yes responding does require a positive attitude and putting self-judgment aside.
I like your focus, clarity (intention), release of judgement, but I'll add respond and lots of practice. Here I am rambling on again..... to shorten my comments - It's not magic -----it's work work work and lots of experience turning a flaw into something beautiful. You've got to peddle uphill if you want the fun glide downhill.