On Integration

We have a natural desire to compartmentalize in the hectic modern world. We try to leave work at the office, and we designate  ‘date nights’ with our spouses. Marking off time to specific pursuits is a survival mechanism, and may be a vital first step for many as a daily practice is being built. I question, though, whether this is always good for the practice of creative living.

I am suggesting an approach that includes both the necessary scheduling and focused work that builds mastery, and the seamless integration of the principles of the practice into daily life. We can choose entertainment that inspires and instructs our creativity. We can choose what we wear and eat and where we live with an eye to supporting and enriching our lives in the same way the studio work does. We can change habits that make us feel like we are making a grinding gear-switch when we go from home to work, or studio to family time.

I have a studio kit that lets me draw or paint while sitting in the living room with the family. I keep plenty of reading material that is helpful and enriching as well as fun, for any surprise down time I might encounter. Sketchbooks and journals are stashed around my home, cars and various handbags. I save articles I find on social media that might be useful so that when I feel like browsing, I have a stash of curated material that is better than random net-surfing. I play audio books or great music when undertaking long boring tasks like cleaning out a closet. I once would have shut the door of my studio on all that type of activity and felt that I was doing it to be more present for my family or my other work. I stopped, because I realize that keeping a stream of input that connects me to the practice helps me make that transition to the real work of being an artist.

It is my hope that the studio practice I am advocating becomes less of a task list and more of a way of moving creatively through the world, experiencing every day as inspiration for writing, painting, or whatever you do. In a very short time, this practice has brought about dramatic changes for me in productivity, health, and satisfaction with my life. I am most thankful that in almost any situation, with very little need for materials, I have learned to return to the studio of the mind.