Daily Habits and Rituals of Artists:  Friday Arts Day

Do you have set rituals or habits that you follow?

Is there a particular time of day when you are most productive, have more clarity of thought or have more inspiration to paint?

I do.  If I am writing I like to do so in a Cafe’,  I need the white noise.  I also like not having to get up as I get distracted, so having a coffee bought to me is an absolute luxury.  If I’m painting I need quite and not too much interruption or I lose focus.  If I am painting I find it difficult to stop even to prepare dinner.

Let’s look at how some great minds organised their creativity.

Carl Jung (1875-1961)

Swiss psychiatrist and psychotherapist.  Carl understood the need for rest and respite.

 “I’ve realised that somebody who’s tired and needs a rest, and goes on working all the same is a fool”.

Jung rose at 7:00am: said good morning to his saucepans, pots and frying pans; and spent a long time preparing breakfast, which usually consisted of coffee, salami, fruits, bread and butter.  He generally set aside two hours in the morning for concentrated writing.  The rest of his day would be spent painting or meditating in his private study, going for long walks in the hills, receiving visitors and replying to the never-ending stream of letters that arrived each day.

At 2:00 or 3:00 he took tea; in the evening he enjoyed preparing a large meal, often an aperitif.  Bedtime was at 10:00pm.

“At Bollingen I am in the midst of my true life.  I am most deeply myself.  I have done without electricity and tend the fireplace and stove myself.  Evenings, I light the old lamps.  There is no running water, I pump the water from the well.  I chop the wood and cook the food.  These simple acts make man simple; and how difficult it is to be simple”.

Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827)

Beethoven rose at dawn and wasted little time getting down to work.  His breakfast was coffee, which he prepared himself with great care – he determined that there should be sixty beans per cup, and he often counted them out one by one for the precise dose.  He then sat at his desk and worked until 2:00 or 3:00, taking the occasional break to walk outdoors.

At midday Bethoven embarked on a long walk which would occupy most of the afternoon.  He always carried pencil and a couple of sheets music paper in his pocket to record change musical thoughts.  He would usually be in bed by 10:00pm.

Bethoven had unusual bathing habits as his secretary Anton Schindler recalls:

“Washing and bathing were amongst the most pressing necessities of Beethoven’s life.  In this respect he was indeed an Oriental…He would stand at his washstand in great deshabille and pour large pitchers of water over his hands, bellowing  up and down the scales or humming loudly to himself.  Then he would stride around his room with rolling eyes, jot something down, then resume his pouring water and loud singing.  These were moments of deep meditation to which no one could have objected but for two unfortunate consequences.

First of all, the servants would often burst out laughing.  This made the master angry and he would sometimes assault them in language  that made him cut an even more ridiculous figure.  Or secondly, he would come into conflict with the landlord, for all too often so much water was spilled that it went right through the floor”.

Fountain pen

Soren Kierkegaard (1813-1856)

The Danish philosophers day was dominated by two pursuits:  writing and walking.  Typically he wrote in the morning, the would write for the rest of the day into the evening.  The walks were where he had his best ideas, and sometimes he would be in such a hurry to get them down that, returning home, he would write standing up before his desk, still wearing his hat and gripping his walking stick or umbrella.

Kierkegaard kept up his energy with coffee, usually taken after supper with a  glass of sherry.  Kierkegaard has his own peculiar way of having coffee:  Delightedly he would pour sugar from the bag into the coffee cup until it poured over the rim. Next came the incredibly strong black coffee which slowly dissolved the white pyramid.  The process was scarcely finished before the syrupy stimulant disappeared into the masters stomach, where it mingled with the sherry to produce additional energy that percolated up into his seething and bubbling brain.

I hope that you found this interesting.  Coffee and Walking seem to be a common thread here.  What do you need to help you create?

These anecdotes were taken from the book by Mason Currey:  Daily Rituals- How Artists Work.  Available here on Amazon.  Just click the image.

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