Creating artwork is my most natural state. Just about everything else changes, but that remains, and it's fundamentally the same experience for me regardless of the project.
I fall in and everything else falls away. A new world opens up and I stay there until the story stops speaking to me, or until my body gives out.
Most artists would probably relate. You don't notice that your leg cramped up an hour ago and that you forgot to eat after working on your piece for 12 hours. The need to sleep and the experience of being tired changes shape. Extreme levels of being tired somehow add to the process, seemingly opening up your mind hand connection, and you sink into the flow even deeper. It's not until you can no longer see the page in front of you that you cede to your body's exhaustion and put down the pen or brush. Those moments when you're so tired that you're in the surface layers of a dream mind are kind of magical. Parts of your higher brain function fogs out, and things like doubt, fear and anxiety simply can't function there.
I think this is similar to how people feel when they're high. A disconnect from the normalcy of their daily self, and a reconnection to the quiet self that remains. Automatic, visceral.
I prefer to work to music. To be fair, it is usually my Portland Cello Project playlist on Pandora, but it can change based on the piece. I have a weakness for Billie Holiday, classical and Dido, . Then there's those pieces that for some reason require Tool or NIN in the background for them to come out. This is less frequent as that music tends to keep me at the surface, but there are pieces that need that music to function.
The music acts like the foundation for a new fictional world I make for myself. I usually create for long periods of time. I dislike short sessions because I never really get into the flow before they're over. (My etching "Oxytocin" was primarily drawn in three sessions, two of which were 24 hours straight and the third for 36 hours straight, save for bathroom breaks or to refill my coffee or shove an apple in my mouth. My usual session is about 8 hours).
I let people know I'm working and to leave me be for a while and then I go. As I create, my mind opens up and works on building worlds while I draw or paint, to keep my mind busy, I guess while my hands work. When I'm deep in a session, it doesn't really feel like I'm choosing to do much, it's just happening. These worlds I make in my mind are like watching movies that you can be in, kind of like dreaming I guess, but complex and linear. Usually scifi or fantasy in nature. There's lots of time travel, space travel, epic characters, powerful people found in small, unassuming lives. Sometimes these worlds are smaller, more casual, but these are less frequent. I've watched the birth and death of a single character in a single session. For complex or long story lines, I pick back up where I left off in my next drawing session if the story wasn't finished.
One of my favorites that I often revisit, involves a planet where all the galaxy's religious idols live, made immortal by worship. Those that have been long forgotten or mentioned only in historical myth on their target planet grow feeble and slowly fade off. This era on the planet is post revolution after their people fought to establish ethics and to end involvement on their followers home planets, to no longer cause natural disasters or disease to gain believers, to allow the lives of their followers to go on uninterrupted. The main character is a young girl with immense power who had gained it naturally and without establishing a following. Social upheaval ensues. It ends up being a coming of age story that involves the honor of a people and the shaking of belief and purpose. I really like the main girl. She has a quiet strength and a unique mind that is not easily manipulated. She's 9 at the beginning of the story.
These aren't stories I think I'd be able to tell others well. I've tried writing one or two of them down, but they come out convoluted and incomplete. I think for me, some part of the drawing is intermixed with the story, so it's hard to tell it without it.
Afterwards you feel both exhausted and refreshed, if that makes any sense at all.
Anyway, people often ask me what it's like to draw my pieces, so I thought I'd write it down.
The research part is completely different. It's very cerebral and involved. That's another story.
Here are some videos of me drawing, as well as some photos of "Oxytocin", which I mentioned earlier.