Paul Tamanian, an artist we represent whose open-air studio spills onto his dirt driveway, has left messages like this on my voicemail:
[First — imagine a grumpy excited voice, if you can conjure such a tone]
“So, it’s hot outside. Pushing 100. Humid. It’s like swimming through air. Worked four hours, threw up, came inside, had a green smoothie. I’m heading back out. Don’t call me back till it’s dark, I’ll be outside.”
I’ve received a message like that at least 3 times over the last 21 years. At least three throwup messages — could be five. Could be seven. Then toss in hundreds of other voicemails across two decades, all fresh from the intense pursuit of artistic perfection. Each one a growl from the edge of creation . . .
My wife is a calmer, more reflective sort. Still, you can tell when she’s got a high coming off her work. She fairly dances about, coltish-like.
Deep work requires deep play. And that requires immersion. A dive so deep external reality disappears and all that remains is what you’re grappling with.
Undistracted time is essential. As is a sense of playfulness so adroit one feels kinship with elves. With pixies. With street performers. With children crayon in hand.
When you look up from your work feeling simultaneously exhausted and enlivened, you’re there.
What we’re aiming for in our creative practice is a focus so deep, so rewarding we can only call it workplay.