On a trip to Edisto Beach State Park on the coast of South Carolina in October 2015, our plein air painting group had cabins along the edge of the salt marsh. The morning was quiet and the pink of the sunrise lingered in the sky as I set up my easel on the dock. The tide was on the way out, but there was enough water in the marsh to reflect the sun through the grasses as it rose over head.
As I painted, I experienced the energized and focused feeling of flow, also known as being in the zone. I was absorbed in my task and was able to concentrate without distractions. The painting came together quickly and I thoroughly enjoyed the process. Flow doesn’t happen every time I paint; sometimes there are interruptions or wind or bugs. Some days the composition doesn’t work. But on this beautiful morning, the process was a pleasure.
I think flow is a state most people enjoy, but it’s hard to achieve in daily life with its constant distractions. The joy of experiencing flow occasionally is what keeps me painting en plein air.
In what circumstances do you experience flow? Do you make an effort to set up the conditions for it to occur?