Where is The Zone?

Sue Smith, at Ancient Artist, had a recent post about painting in The Zone.

You know, The Zone: that space where, because you are so immersed in what you are doing,  you lose all awareness of time and place, hunger and discomfort, mosquitoes and whining dogs and children. I’ve heard an awful lot about painting in The Zone.

Yes, I’ve been there, and lost track of those hours of my life. It most often happens to me when I’m writing; words have that power over me.  Words have the power to drench the me in me. When writing is going well, the words submerge my conscious mind, and I lose all sense of self. Even editing can put me there, floating in lexicon and grammar.

But painting? It’s hard work.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not afraid of hard work. But to make a painting I think is successful, I can’t just disappear into a fog of altered enjoyment. I have to be present. I have to continually ask myself  a thousand questions: What are the rhythms of the picture, and how best to portray them? How should this be designed? Am I seeing correctly? Where is the form shadow? Where is the cast shadow? Is this value in the shadow or in the light? Should I use this yellow? This green? This blue?

I have to make myself slow down, stand back and look critically at my painting, and ask the constant question: Does it work? Does it work? Does it work?

I hope you’ll check out Sue’s post. She offers some great points to keep in mind when you’re getting swept away by the paint.