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Are you superstitious?

When I start preparing for painting in the studio, I always tear a number of paper towel sheets and fold them into 4. The number of paper towels I tear off the roll will always be a prime number (usually 7 or 11). It’s something I started doing a long time ago and now I always make sure the quantity is a prime number.

Do you do (or avoid to do) typical things when painting? Things that smell like superstition?

No. Not superstitious at all. I just take what comes. But I do respect whatever others feel is necessary for them.

Many folks have a routine that helps their brain shift into a particular space. My mother puts on classical music and swears she cannot produce without it. She’s been painting since I was a kid and is now 80 and still painting and ALWAYS puts on her music when she enters her studio. My biggest challenge is going from my artist brain to my regular brain… especially for driving. Instead of paying attention to traffic, I will be studying shadow shapes and the light effects. I find that if I switch gears and read something for a few minutes (even if it’s just the car’s manual), I can shift back pretty quickly.

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To me, “superstition” has negative, OCD-type connotations, but Catherine’s interpretation is one many people have noted and written about. “Rituals are habits that begin with a behavioral cue — a sort of trigger that tells the brain ‘Now it’s time to work!’ …having a ritual helps the brain slip into its creative flow automatically.” For me, cleaning the palette (if I didn’t do it the night before) and squeezing out fresh paint are about it.

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