When Ideas Flow

by | Apr 15, 2011 | Blog | 7 comments

I was reminded last night how some of my best ideas come when I least expect it. Why is that? Often I put in long hard days toiling away at my paintings. The next morning I survey the lot and just can’t see that any progress has been made. It’s as if I worked in a circle, gaining some ground, then taking steps backwards only to start all over. Its during these times that every so often I’ll give up, stop painting, and do something else.

Yesterday I pondered some new canvases for a long time, feeling uninspired. Thankfully I had enough insight to see it was one of “those times” where its best not paint and take a break. I rented a movie (Woody Allen’s latest), made a chocolate ice cream sundae, and got into bed early with a good book (The Edge of the Sea by Rachel Carson). It was only several minutes into reading my book, while my mind was completely off duty, that I got a complete vision for my next painting series. I woke up this morning with a fresh outlook, armed with new territory to conquer, and inspired enthusiasm.

So again I ask, why is that? I believe our mind, although mysterious and amazing, is still somewhat limited. Our mind constantly absorbs things from the outside through our senses, combining with our own preferential judgments from the inside to create a thought or idea. It keeps very busy absorbing and judging. While we can get some successful ideas from this process, these ideas will usually be limited by what we have been exposed to. When our mind rests, for example during meditation, physical activities, or just plain old fun, then it opens up to a larger universe – our larger selves, our collective unconscious, or divine source. It is here, then, that we can surprise ourselves by accessing ideas that can be totally new.

Onwards then, to more ice cream, movies and nature hikes.

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  1. Udaysree

    beautiful analysis in your last paragraph…

  2. London Farrar

    So true. It's easy to over analyze things when you haven't looked away from somethin in a while. Thank you for reminding me it's not a "sin" to take a break.

  3. Mary Manning

    Between your love of panting and dancing, Nancy, you pointed the way for me to "walk away" when painting is not exciting anymore. By taking that break, I've noticed a renewed sense of purpose, and a surge of energy, when back at the palette and painting again.

  4. John Walker

    It took me a long time to realise stepping away is often the best approach. Going back the next day I find problems are overcome so much quicker and i'm often surprised at what seemed like a difficult issue the day before becomes so easily resolved "can't see the wood for the trees" is such an apt saying

  5. Art Epicurean

    Yes, our minds then can open up to the universe – a creative being by nature.

  6. Lee McVey


    I agree. I have found taking a break to be true as well. I used to feel big guilt over this, but I have found over time, taking breaks works best for me.

  7. Adee

    I totally agree with what you said…. We try too hard and the inner door of creativity shuts off…
    Thank you for the reminder to take time off to allow the creative self time to regroup and tune in…

    I love your work Nancy and have your book and DVD….

    Have a lovely day!
    Adee :o)


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About Nancy

Nancy Reyner is a professional fine-art painter with over 30 years experience using a variety of mediums including oil, acrylic, watercolor and mixed media. She has appeared on television for HGTV’s “That’s Clever,” and authored several best-selling painting books with F&W Media. She currently lives in Santa Fe, NM. Read more.
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