[caption id="attachment_1007" align="alignnone" width="520" caption=""untitled" Ann Rea, charcoal on canvas "][/caption] It’s well past midnight, and I’m sketching charcoal on canvas boards from several photos that I’ve taken in Benovia’s vineyards. With each series I challenge myself with a new focus. There is not necessarily a discernable change to my collectors' eyes but I have chosen specific challenge or focus. This comes from an everlasting desire to improve my work, to sharpen my focus, to explore a creative curiosity, and to give my best to collectors who invest in my work. I’m composing the framework of these oil studies with experienced marks of charcoal. I’m also looking at the emphasis on contrast. I’ll first identify the darkest dark within the painting and the lightest light. This helps me gauge the rest of the colored values so that they fall somewhere in between. I’m not thinking so much as I am feeling. I’m making intuitive decisions. How do I know what color to choose? I just know. I feel it. Hopefully I’ll keep sensing throughout the painting. If I’m interrupted by someone, or by my own thoughts, the whole thing can be a complete waste. I’m always longing to experience a state of flow. When I’m in the zone time passes undetected. I experience a sense of focused relaxation. Decisions are easy, intuitive. My vision is sharper, I’m somehow more sensitive. It’s this state of flow that keep us painters addicted to our endeavor. As a matter of fact the researcher, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, and author of the book “Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience", fist studied painters. Why? He wanted to know what kept artists in pursuit of such a problematic career. Before I plunged into painting full time, I wrote a business plan and marketing plan so that I could spend less time concerned about income and as much time as possible in the state of flow: composing, sketching, shaping paint, and breathing fresh air.