Energy or engagement – which takes the lead?

Does energy create engagement, or the other way round? Have you noticed that people who are really engaged with what they do, also seem to have a special kind of energy. So here’s the question – what comes first: the energy or the engagement?

Can we be energised by being more passionate about what we do? Or should we find ways to boost our energy levels in order to become more engaged? I know when a painting is really working – it flows. People talk about time standing still when they are enjoying the process of creating. That’s exactly how it feels. There is a sense of tunnel vision – a focus that is so effortlessly intense that all else fades into the background.

However, this doesn’t mean either that it happens every time I pick up a paintbrush, or that its a simple step by step process to get to this mental state.  Not so at all. There are times when I can be in the studio for hours and the urge to paint is still elusive. There are times when I start to paint, only for the creative muse to disappear and my painting stagnate.

I’m not sure I can say which comes first – energy or engagement. But I can tell you what helps for me:

  • Loosening up about the outcome is an essential starting point. It’s more important to enjoy the process than to be hung up about the end result
  • Music – good solid rock and roll often gets my energy levels going. My movements get more fluid and so does my painting
  • Work on more than one painting at the same time. If there’s a series of work on the go, I can’t get too hung up about one of them. It keeps things moving
  • Pause and really look at what’s happening with the paint. Find the juicy painterly bits that you love and just enjoy the moment (or the day or two) before you move on with the piece
  • If all else fails, tidy up. When I am really feeling stuck, I find that pottering around in my studio eventually leads to a paintbrush being picked up and things start to get going again. Its a bit of a battery recharge.

So which comes first, the energy or the engagement for you?