Staying In Flow With Morning Pages

Every morning, the first thing I do when I enter my studio is paint for 30 minutes. Sometimes I work on a piece that’s in progress, but most of the time I do a quick study in my watercolor sketchbook.

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I got this idea from doing The Artist's Way, which requires readers to write three pages, stream of consciousness, first thing after waking up. The purpose of the exercise is to get your thoughts out and free up mental space and energy, but it has the added benefit of putting your mind in a creative space before the day has even begun. You wake up and immediately make something. It doesn’t have to be good, it just needs to be done.

For me, painting is the cornerstone of a good day, but it’s easy to put it off when other work feels more pressing. I adapted this idea to guarantee that I am prioritizing painting even on my busiest days, and to make space for creativity and inspiration.

So far, this practice has been invaluable. The small block of time I spend playing and experimenting generates ideas for paintings, and keeps my creative ideas flowing when I’m busy working on other things. It’s an opportunity to try something new. I paint imagery from dreams, combine parts of old paintings, and do color studies of my house plants. In my morning pages, I can take risks and push the boundaries of what I’m doing to reinvent my painting process.

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I feel the most aligned with myself when I paint every day, so building painting into my morning routine has had a huge impact on my productivity, wellness, and creativity. If you’d like to follow along, I've been sharing these pages to my Instagram stories every weekday morning. You can check out the highlights here!

Jeffrey Arlyn