This fall is shaping up to be a little bit insane for both me and my husband, Joel. We both have a lot of very long, strange work hours. Earlier this week my husband surprised me with the news that we were trying Sensory Deprivation as a fun date.
Sensory deprivation is something I’ve wanted to try for a long time. If you don’t know what it is, essentially you lie in buoyant saltwater at your body temperature in pitch black and complete silence for 90 minutes. The goal is that you are completely disconnected from your bodily senses.
I’ve heard all kinds of crazy things about it. I heard of people having polar opposite experiences. I’ve heard some people say that it’s like being on drugs and they hallucinate, that it’s more relaxing than a massage, that it can heal injuries, provide pain and stress relief, and unparalleled mental clarity and spiritual transformations.
On the other hand, I’ve heard some pretty negative things too, like giving people panic attacks, inducing severe stress, and causing strange hallucinations.
With such mixed reviews, I was really curious to try it for myself, and Joel knew it would be the perfect date. We went to OM Float in Ashburn, VA. Where they offer 90-minute float sessions. I read some of the philosophy behind the theories of healing just to prepare for the day.
Putting everything I knew aside I was going to try and see if I could have a positive experience. The reasons we wanted to go was to see if it would be relaxing and to try something new. We weren’t going to try and get bodily healing, or have a super spiritual experience. This is what my experience was like…
Our appointment was booked a couple of weeks ago (because who knew, they fill up so fast.) Before you come, they send you an email reminder of your appointment. Our appointment was for 9 a.m. They recommended we only eat a small, light breakfast and go light on any caffeine. They like you to get there a few minutes early and are very kind and welcoming when you arrive. After arriving they offered us tea and water. We waited in the sitting room while they made sure our rooms were ready.
After about 5 minutes they lead us back to a hallway with about six different float rooms. Each client gets their own room, Joel and I did not share a room or a tank. Each room has low, calm light, a shower with body wash and shampoo, a float tank with adjacent filtration system, a towel, washcloth, bathrobe, sandals, waterproof earplugs, and Q-tips.
Here is what they told us to do. They ask that you shower with soap before you get in the tank. Each tank is filled with ten inches of very, very salty water. The water is set to the temperature of human skin which is about 94 degrees F. They advise that you float naked, but I brought a swimsuit anyway.
There is soft, spa-like music playing when you enter the room and that music lasts for fifteen minutes before you’re in silence. They tell you to lock the door to your personal room, and make sure you know that there are no locks on the float tanks.
With all of the info on the table I was lead into my private room where the fifteen minutes of music was playing. I locked the door, stuffed the earplugs in my ears, took a shower and jumped in the tank. I would say that the first 30 minutes was torture, mostly because I didn’t put my swimsuit on, because I was trying to embrace the whole experience.
In the first 30 minutes the music had stopped and it sort of felt like I was floating in space but I also felt like I was spinning to the right in a circle and I got really really nauseous. I also was super uncomfortable without any clothes on and my mind was racing at the speed of light no matter how I tried to calm it down. I jumped out of the tub, put my swimsuit on and jumped back in.
The nausea and spinning feeling came back but I was finally able to relax and focus on releasing all the tension in my shoulders, neck, lower back and jaw. I started to focus on my breathing and looking at the bursts of color I was seeing under my eyelids.
I fell asleep for almost the rest of time, bobbing around in the nothingness.
I awoke with a jolt and almost had a heart attack when one of the strings on my swimsuit brushed against my arm. I thought I was going to die and there was something in the water with me till I realized it was my swimming suit. I started to calm back down when the music started playing and the low lights started to come on inside the tank.
I got out of the tank, showered again (but had to shower when I got home too because wow there was a lot of salt still stuck in my ears and hair). I got dressed and Joel and I left.
Overall, I would say bizarre. It was one of the strangest experiences I’ve had, but I’m glad I tried it. Here is what I enjoyed.
The facility was clean, and I felt good about that. The service was great and the people were kind. I liked the lighting and how they really try and set the mood. I do feel like I could and still can feel some of the tension gone from my shoulders, knees and feet. I liked the way the salt made my skin feel and it still feels super soft today, it also helped heal up some bug bites that had been irritating my skin the last few days. I liked the smell of their soap (it was lavender). I liked the feeling of weightlessness and floating through space, but I think I’d rather do it under the stars not in pitch blackness.
Here’s what I didn’t like. I didn’t like how nauseous I got at the beginning. I didn’t like floating without a swimsuit at the beginning. I didn’t like how there was salt all over my clothes afterward. I didn’t like that water got stuck in my ear even though I used the earplugs (got it out with rubbing alcohol). I left and spent most of the rest of the day feeling exhausted and out of it. And maybe this is wrong of me, but I’m sort of disappointed I fell asleep? I don’t know.. it sort of felt like an expensive nap?
What did I get out of it? Well I can say I’ve tried it. I do feel like tension was relieved from my shoulders, knees, and feet, but not more than a massage would give me. I don’t feel like I had any spiritual revelations (but I wasn’t looking for any). It was sort of crazy how wild my mind felt and colorful visions were throbbing under my eyelids.
Conclusion, would I do it again? Honestly, probably not. Not because I had a bad experience, on the contrary, I feel like I had a very mixed experience. Overall I feel like it was more positive than negative, but for the money, and for my goals, I think I would choose a massage, or a facial over sensory deprivation. To me, those are more relaxing experiences.
So that’s it. Let me know if you have any questions, and I encourage you to try it once for yourself. I won’t be going again, but I’ll never forget the time I had! Hope you enjoyed this post!
I have synesthesia. All it means is I associate colors and moods with letters, numbers, words, but mostly sounds. I see colors when listening to music. Sounds strongly affect me and usually locks me into a mental state of deep thinking and creativity. Listening to something always invokes visions of color and a mood. Listening sparks a memory or deep thought or new experience. Sound is something that greatly impacts my life, mood and artwork. I’m usually listening to music I would describe as chill, relaxing, calming, or soothing. I’m the person who wears ear plugs to concerts, movie theatres, and even church. Loud or music that is too hyper really stresses me out and gives me real anxiety.
While painting you can find me listening to music like that or an audiobook, or podcast. I always work better and get into a better flow state when I am listening to something. I can do a comprehensive list of books and podcasts I listen to later, but one question I get asked a lot while painting is, “what are you listening to?” People will frequently ask how I listen to music and whether or not I have playlists?
Yes, friends I do have playlists. Here is the comprehensive introduction to the music I listen to on Spotify. Each of these are curated playlists for my life and I listen to all of them while I paint too.
There really isn’t a method to the madness. I usually just put on the playlist that I am feeling the most. I usually start with a specific song in mind that I know is in a specific playlist and just let the playlist shuffle from there. You can find my Spotify Profile Here.
Here are the playlists in definitive ranking of what I listen to the most:
This playlist is sweet, calm, and melancholy. It’s probably my favorite of my playlists and often find myself picking around in it or just letting it run from beginning to end. This playlist is 8 hours and 40 minutes of pure reflection and calm. If you’re a melancholy person like me, or just enjoy a good downer, this is the playlist for you. Put it on shuffle and soak in all the feels.
This playlist is more upbeat and playful in comparison to the last playlist. The beats are little faster, it’s more lively and puts you in a good mood. This a positive, forward looking playlist that I always turn on for a pick-me-up.
This was the playlists I was listening to/creating while I was working on my last collection, The Divide. It is a mixed bag and it have different meanings in my mind, but if you haven’t been burned out with those two previous playlists then you should give these a listen too.
I have several other playlists, but I’m going to let you choose your own adventure there. One is all French music, one is just classical music, there are a couple of Christmas playlists, and of course my favorite 80’s music (because 80’s music is basically my all-time favorite). Those main three playlists are what I listen to on a regular basis. Here is the link to my Spotify Profile.
The Divide is a collection that is deeply meaningful to me. This collection was started in 2016 and was finished in April of 2018. I have been extremely honored to exhibit this collection at Latela Art Gallery located in Washington D.C. I wanted to give an overview of each of these works individually and as a part of the whole series. You can view all these works in person at Latela on Saturday’s 10am-2pm or by appointment during the week. To schedule an appointment or to purchase one of these pieces please contact Marta Staudinger at firstname.lastname@example.org
Here is the general overview of the works and how each piece is tied in specifically to the theme. The whole series is a celebration of life and death. Over the past two-and-a-half years I’ve lost four family members and my college roommate to sudden deaths. These works are a memorial to their memories, a celebration of what they brought to the world, and a reminder to breathe deeply, live with thanksgiving, and give love generously.
The titles of each work are associated with a speech pattern my loved ones would say, or something relating to their memory in my mind. I will go through the works chronologically.
I lost one of my uncles to a quick and aggressive cancer in 2016. His passing was sad but the full weight of loss wouldn’t hit me till I would lose 3 more family members. Shortly after my uncle passed, my cousin went missing off of the coast of Hawaii while spearfishing. Her remains were never found. Our family searched and searched and searched for her only to be left without closure, forever wondering her fate. Her disappearance in the water was jarring and shook our family. I made the first few works in this series as a way to process the sudden and tragic nature of losing such a young life. The first three works were ‘Burning Me Up,’ ‘B before C’ and ‘Be Sure You Know.’
Burning Me Up, 30″x40″ acrylic and gold leaf on canvas in a gold floater frame.
B before C, 16″x20″ acrylic and gold leaf on canvas in a gold floater frame.
Be Sure You Know 12″x12″ acrylic and gold leaf on canvas in a gold floater frame.
After these pieces were completed I held on to them, though I didn’t know why. I had no idea that what was a mini-series would turn into a collection borne out of loss.
Several months later my aunt passed away, and still I was coping with it all. I didn’t add to this series yet. When my other uncle, the father of my missing cousin, fell ill with cancer and was dead in three weeks in the fall of 2017 it broke my heart. There was so much loss, so suddenly in this family that I knew I needed to start processing it all. I started working on these paintings as a way to process the grief and pay my respect to my lost loved ones in the only way I knew how.
I started with my aunt and created four small pieces with her in mind. ‘Remember Me’ #1 and #2 and ‘I Want to Be There’ #1 and #2.
Remember Me 8″x8″ acrylic and gold leaf on canvas in a gold floater frame.
Remember Me #2, 8″x8″ acrylic and gold leaf on canvas in a gold floater frame.
‘I Want To Be There’ #1, 10″x10″ acrylic and gold leaf on canvas in a gold floater frame.
‘I Want To Be There’ #2, 10″x10″ acrylic and gold leaf on canvas in a gold floater frame.
I then focused on remembering my two uncles who had passed. They were brothers and my mother’s only siblings. Because they are brothers and they both passed quickly and both from cancer they are very linked in my mind. They were my mom’s older brothers and both of them always kept me laughing with the crazy things they said. One of my uncles would always finish his sentences with, “yeah?” He would say something like, “we should go for a hike, yeah?” and that was always a funny speech mannerism of his that will always make me smile and think of him. One of these pieces is called, ‘Yeah?’ in memory of him. My other uncle always played in a goofy voice, he was so good at silly voices and sound effects. Whenever he and my uncle would make fun of my mom, or tease her he would say, “ohhhhh susyyyyy.” In this really funny way that is impossible to describe in the written word. The second piece is called, “Oh Susy” in honor of him.
‘Yeah?’ 16″x16″ acrylic and gold leaf on canvas in a gold floater frame.
‘Oh Susy,” 16″x16″ acrylic and gold leaf on canvas in a gold floater frame.
The last four paintings on canvas were made in March and April of 2018. This was when my good friend and roommate in college died in childbirth, leaving behind twin baby boys. Her passing reminded me of my cousins sudden disappearance. One moment here, the next gone, leaving so many in her wake. Because the losses reminded me of each other. I created two works simultaneously one in honor of my roommate, the other in honor of my cousin.
‘How Do I Look?’ was created for my roommate, who used to ask me every day before she walked out the door, “how do I look?” You look amazing, dear friend.
‘How Do I Look?’ 24″x30″ acrylic and gold leaf on canvas in a gold floater frame.
The second piece, ‘High Tide,’ was made for my cousin, because we lost her in the high tide.
‘High Tide’ 24″x30″ acrylic and gold leaf on canvas in a gold floater frame.
The last two works on canvas are the largest in the series. ‘Unto Ashes’ and ‘Let It Hold Your Hand’ are two works I made after my roommate passed to symbolize the huge gap my roommate left in the lives of her twin baby boys and as a tribute to their mother, my friend. Their titles are symbolic of the works as a whole. ‘Let It Hold Your Hand’ is about coming to peace with loved ones passing on. Death has felt like a constant companion and his presence is near and you just have to let him hold your hand without fear.
‘Let It Hold Your Hand” 4’x6’ acrylic and gold leaf on canvas, unframed.
‘Unto Ashes’ 4’x6′ acrylic and gold leaf on canvas, unframed.
As a part of this series I also did several works on paper, one series to symbolize life and the celebration of life, and the other to symbolize coming to peace with death. Here are samples of those works on paper. To see all of them visit the Originals Page.
The piece on the left is one of 7 works on paper that come framed in a glass floater frame. These works are acrylic and Rose Gold leaf on paper. They symbolize life.
The works on the right are blue divides, they are acrylic and gold on paper. They symbolize coming to peace with death.
These pieces have been instrumental in my healing process. What I hope to accomplish with this body of work is to turn my mourning into beauty for you. I hope that when you look at, and dwell with these peaceful paintings that you breathe deeper and hug your love ones a little tighter. I hope that wherever you find yourself on this journey of life that you take time to be thankful for something, or someone every single day. These pieces are about celebrating life and coming to peace with the unknown. Please do not hesitate to ask me if you have any questions.
You can view these works in person through the month of July at Latela Art Gallery on the weekends 10am-2pm, or during the week by appointment. To book an appointment or to purchase one of these works contact Marta Staudinger email@example.com
If these works were meaningful and inspiring to you in anyway, I encourage you to share their message of life with others either on social media or in personal conversations,
Stay in touch and follow me on Instagram @christineolmstead Pinterest @christineolmstead Facebook @ceolmstead
I recently watched this Ted Talk by Susan Cain on the power of introverts. If you have some time, I encourage you to give it a listen. I wanted to tease out and discuss with you one of her overarching points. https://www.ted.com/talks/susan_cain_the_power_of_introverts#t-80690
One of her main points is that we come up with our best ideas and we are at our most creative when we are alone. She absolutely advocates for the cross pollination and sharing of ideas, but when it comes to wrestling ideas out, coming up with solutions, or purely being creative, Cain advocates for the power of solitude.
As someone who has always scored as an extreme extrovert on personality tests, I feel like an introvert. I’ve grown increasingly more and more introverted the older I’ve become. I think that is normal. Here is something I’ve found with myself, and I’m curious if it’s true in others. I’m much more honest about what I think and real with my own thoughts when I am in my own head, alone instead of with others.
Growing up I spent a lot of time alone, in my own room, or in my own space painting. I had seemingly endless art supplies supplied by my mother. I did some of my deepest and biggest thinking while I was painting, alone.
Back to addressing Cain’s Ted Talk. I think the reason people come up with better ideas, solutions, and creations alone than in groups is because we can be more profoundly honest with our constructions.
Is this idea good or bad? Is it the right solution for the problem? Is it the right shade of blue for this painting? Is it good enough to share? Does it need more work? Should I throw it away? Should I keep trying, or let it go?
It is only when creators, when introverts are given the space to be alone, and alone in their own minds that that can answer these questions honestly to themselves and tackle projects, revise or make changes, or built up enough gumption to present their work to others.
This is key. My most complex, layered, and rich ideas come when I’m alone. Some of my most pleasurable experiences, fondest memories, and most profound moments of peace are alone. Going out to dinner, alone. Going on a run, alone. Swinging on my swing in the backyard as a child, alone. Soaking in the music while I paint in my studio, or childhood bedroom, alone.
I love what Susan Cain had to said about feeding introverts and giving them the space to create, to grow, to seek, in solitude. Like her, I hope we as a society can learn to cherish “alone” and view it as a badge of creation instead of the mark of an outsider.
Why do we fear the alone? Why is doing things alone seen as sad? I see alone time as the ultimate luxury, the ultimate haven of peace and ideal space for creation.
So here are my questions and charges for you. Are you an introvert or extrovert? and do you love to be alone? Why or why not?
If you hate being alone, have you ever tried to soak in it like a bath? Have you have taken yourself out on a date, alone, no blaring music, no cell phone or tv distractions. Have you ever marinated in your own head and gotten to know your own thoughts? Try it, take a swim in that skull, ignore the voices in your head saying “people will think it’s weird if I’m here alone, or doing ‘X’ alone.” Most people are more interested in themselves anyway.
Even for us extroverts, I think being comfortable alone and comfortable living in your own head is a skill, and one that will eternally pay off as it requires nothing of anyone else and is solely focused on you telling the truth to yourself. Alone time allows us to think about what we as individuals can create and contribute instead of what we can just absorb.
Like or share this post with fellow introverts and extroverts, I’d love to hear about your stories of when you are most creative!
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Photo by Klaire Dixius Photography
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Ok ok, maybe I’m being a little over dramatic. It’s not dry, I’ve had a lot of new ideas and dreams of future projects, it’s just the last few weeks I’ve been tired of work. I just finished an emotionally exhausting series (which I can’t wait to share with you all) But this recent collection really took it out of me.
Most of my pieces are a reflection or a story of something going on in my life or in the lives of those around me. This particular series has been working out over the past two years and culminated into an emotionally exhausting expression of my thoughts and feelings surrounding repetitive circumstances over the past two years.
Once done with this series I decided to indulge some of the other ideas that had been swirling around my head as series ideas, some of them were purely cathartic releases that I tossed in the trash, others I may keep and refine. But I think that’s the point when you are emotionally drained from painting and need to move on with your life and your work.
Try. New. Things. Don’t be afraid to have a completely creative day in the studio, just making and expressing all the other thoughts that had been pushed to the back burner while you were digging out the deep, dark, other thoughts that needed to be dealt with and painted out.
I painted a lot of crazy things in the last week, paintings that will never see the light of day, but at least they are gone and out, and I don’t have to wonder about them anymore, some of them I like, and may refine but they no longer add to my burdens or clutter my thoughts.
Another extremely comforting thing when I feel my emotional tank is on empty, is to fall back onto commissions. Letting auto-pilot take over and create something that someone else prescribed is really peaceful. Yesterday, I allowed myself all the creative time and space to work on pieces that I knew I would throw away, and also rest on the commissions of others knowing I wouldn’t have to tax my own emotions to create something, since someone else came up with the vision for the painting. I finished an audio book in 2 days and just let myself be in my studio painting. (I was listening to The Wife Between Us by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen I really enjoyed it an can highly recommend….. also on a side note, would anyone want to be in be in a book club with me? Thinking of starting one, send me an email if you want in.)
I don’t know if my creativity has ever run out in terms of ideas. I always have ideas for paintings bursting at the seams, but I do get tired and I do get emotionally worn out if I put a lot of myself into a work or a series. That’s what I’ve been coming through these past few weeks and that’s how I deal with it. How do you deal with creative creative exhaustion? I want to know! Tell me below or send me an email!
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I can’t tell any artist what is best for them, their unique life situations or their business. As an artist running a small business I can tell you where I spend my time. Last week I discussed representation and teased out the differences and pros and cons to be a self-represented artist, read that here in order to catch up: How to be a self represented artist.
Here’s how I spend my time during the week: I work on my computer Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday are half computer days/creative days. Saturdays and Sundays I always try and do something fun and relaxing just so I don’t get through the weekend and feel still burned out on Monday, but yes I do work through the weekends. Saturdays and Sundays are usually 5 hour days instead of 10-14-hour work days. I usually end up working around 75 hours a week.
Good heavens what am I doing that whole time? Well it’s not always necessarily behind the computer, sometimes it is also client meetings and coaching sessions. But when I’m on my computer running my business you can probably find me do any one of the following things: writing or responding to emails, drafting contracts for commissions or licensing deals, blogging, updating my website, photographing products, editing product photos, writing product descriptions, uploading and SEO optimizing all of my products and blog posts, editing and uploading files for licensing partners, restocking (canvas, stretcher bars, wire, screws, paint sealer, packaging material, boxes and a billion other things) paying taxes, paying sales taxes, making thousands of Pinterest pins (I use Tailwind, it’s a lifesaver), planning and scheduling social media posts across 6 different platforms, making marketing materials (I usually use Indesign for the design, and Moo for printing them), marketing, targeted advertising, reaching out for collaboration, researching potential collaborators or licensing opportunities, shipping art, writing email newsletters, coaching other artists on how to run their businesses, doing interviews, planning/scheduling/running sales, troubleshooting shipping problems, meeting with collectors, interior designers and architects to discuss their specific vision, writing gallery show submissions, uploading new prints and products to the print shop.There are probably a bunch of other things I’m doing on my computer too, but those are the main things that came to mind as I wrote that of a stream of consciousness.
Yes, that whole paragraph was one sentence and I’m not going to apologize for it. Deal with it. I have too much to do, to make a perfect paragraph.
On my creative half days, I’m painting, I’m usually working on several commissions at a time, I also like to work on collections even while I’m working on commissions, so those days are full on messy painting days washed in music, audio books, and paint. When I’m in the studio, you can find me painting, stretching canvases, framing art, wiring pieces, and lots of cleaning. I’m working on anywhere from 2-30 pieces at once, it just depends on what’s going on in the studio and what my project deadlines look like that week. I also do shipping on my creative days, cause usually that’s when I have time to do it and sometimes I need to take a break from painting if I’ve been at it too many hours in a row.
None of that probably made any sense, but all of that actually takes up quite a bit of time so, there you have it, and now you know how I run my business and my life for about 75 hours a week. Do I need to outsource? Yes, I do. Have I found the right people to help me with these tasks? No, I have not.
That is a little bit about how I spend my time as a self-represented artist running my own small business. What does your small business time look like? I want to know comment below or send me an email telling me about your experience.
Last week was all about representation as an artist see that post HERE Next week I’m discussing where I spend my money as a small business owner. Like or share this article with your friend who is an artist, submit any questions to me below, or at my email firstname.lastname@example.org
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