White Canvas #11 Mu and a Retrospective Look at Art from Either Side of the «Flow» State


The flow state is a state in which everything fades into the background, the sense of time becomes irrelevant, and our creativity increases. In this text I describe how I experience this feeling.

The Flow State

As with any act of creation it is hard to know where to start. To get into the right mindset it is often suggested one should find a relaxing space with few distractions. Some people use music or a television on in the background to take themselves away – from themselves. Ambient sounds, choral choirs, binaural beats, silence, all can help to conjure up the softening of inner and outer. The result is a ‘one-ness,’ an ‘all-ness’ and the amnesia that often couples with turning a blank canvas or screen into art.  

Fig. 1: Mu, Hands, Digital Art. 

The biggest leap of faith is simply starting, the moment when the brush marks the canvas, or the first digital shape is produced. The thoughts of the day dull, blur and fade away with each sweep or click. This is a springboard from which one can enter ‘flow state,’ a concept introduced by psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, but which is ancient. Csikszentmihalyi puts it like this, “[flow state is] a state in which people are so involved in an activity that nothing else seems to matter; the experience is so enjoyable that people will continue to do it even at great cost, for the sheer sake of doing it.” Every artist knows exactly what he is talking about. Have you ever forgotten to eat or barely noticed the colours of the room change with the rising and setting of the sun because you are working intensely on a piece of art? 

Fig. 2: Mu, Infinite Babies, Digital Art. 

An experience of flow state is like watching yourself create, witnessing the words type themselves, the images arrange unaided, choices of colour and angles are seemingly predetermined, organised, and align effortlessly without assistance; the deepest point of flow state is absence of even the witness. Every song, sonnet, painting, piece, and poem has come out of this state of ‘beinglessness.’ In deep flow state you are not daydreaming, there is no chatter or imagery, the little voice and picture show has been drowned out with concentrated concentration so still as to go completely and utterly unnoticed. What makes the flow state so radically peculiar is that in order to fully achieve it ‘You’ must disappear completely. In fact, all thoughts and feelings must have vacated the creative space entirely. This is a profoundly desirable state and one that has been sought after for thousands of years. Through art it is not only achievable but necessary for optimal results. 

Fig. 3: Mu, The Room, Digital Art. 

Unfortunately, one can never actually experience the full-blown flow state due to its peculiar nature. As a ‘non-state’ it only occurs in the absence of names, knowledge and the recognised functions of objects, time, space, and self. Your awareness of ‘You’ is the unwanted antidote, to know you were in flow state is a retrospective occurrence. We all know this state from driving a car or when going through the motions of a well-practiced routine, but it is only through the arts that you can bring back a souvenir that you can call your own, but which had extraordinarily little to do with ‘You.’ 


Here you can find Mu's art24 profile! Have fun discovering his works!

Furthermore, you can find here an interview that we were able to make with the artist. In it, you can learn more about his work and his motivation to create art.