My journey as an artist has been a series of awakenings, encountering those “aha!”moments with joyous surprise and learning daily to improve my craft. There is also a continual search for the place that every artist yearns for – the “zone”.
My boss, singer/songwriter/author Steve Bell is in that zone when he is onstage sitting alone on a stool, with guitar in hand. He doesn’t prepare ahead of time with a set list, but allows the Spirit to guide him in his songs and storytelling. He also encounters the zone when, as he says “a new song comes down the pike”. A song can arrive suddenly and be written on a napkin in a restaurant, or can come gradually with the collaboration of others.
In his book Balance – a story of Faith, Family and Life on the Line, trapeze artist Nik Wallenda describes the zone as “the place in which God and His glory are manifest everywhere.” When I read those lines, naming the concept of the zone fell into place for me – a way to describe the feeling an artist has when “faith, God’s glory and one’s gift all collide in a certain space of time.”
Everyone certainly experiences the zone in their work, but as a person who seeks communion with God, I believe as Steve and Nik do, that the Spirit manifests His glory at that time. Nik describes the experience in the zone as “moving by instinct, by gentle feeling – nothing is forced, the rhythm determined by the motion that you neither create nor fight.”
Recently, I experienced the zone as I painted the hair portion of a difficult, detailed portrait. It’s a feeling that time is suspended and goes very quickly, progress is made, and one makes decisions by instinct about the next stroke or colour to use. Everything seems to come together and in another recent painting I had the experience that could only be describe as “it painted itself”.
The best thing is, the zone is not limited to the experience of creative people…it is found in the daily life of every human being, whether that person is cooking dinner or writing an exam. 🙂
Quotes by Nik Wallenda used with permission from the book, Balance: A Story of Faith, Family, and Life on the Line by Nik Wallenda with David Ritz. FaithWords 2013.
Painting Shown: Agur’s Answer by Faye Hall – a painting done in four hours on a Sunday afternoon, following the morning message by Pastor Vic Neufeld of North Kildonan MB Church in Winnipeg.