Several years ago, while attending my first artist residency, my friend sent me an article about the “second brain” located in our guts. To get specific (to my understanding), this was referring to the connected neural network between our brain and the enteric nervous system, which controls our gastrointestinal system. Aaaand that’s the vast extent of my knowledge on the anatomical side of things. What I found while reading this article is that I could attach more understanding to the intense feelings I experienced in my stomach while doing art. It wasn’t direct such as “use blue in the upper righthand corner” or “I’m using the wrong pencil for this shading” (wouldn’t that be convenient), but more responsive tightness or ease to the process of creating. I perceive us humans as meaning makers and of course, my brain (the one in my head) started ruminating on some reasoning that could understand the bodily experience I was having around my art.
I’m not entirely sure what I decided back then. I was just starting to really draw and develop my work and my understanding of that process was very rudimentary. What I can say now is that my gut is very intuitive about the kind of work I will produce at any given moment. There are days when I wake up and I can feel deeply that I am not in a place to draw or paint. I’m a motivated individual and I have on occasion (or, more realistically, about a thousand times…) pushed myself to make art in that state. I can’t say that I have always disliked what I make; sometimes the work is pretty good, I just can’t really appreciate it because my mind is just not set up to really engage in the process. But the majority of the time, if I press myself against my gut feeling, I dislike the work and feel that I’m wasting time with my practice. I’ve learned that when my gut says “not right now” that respecting that and choosing to do other things is an incredibly kind and intuitive gift I can give myself.