|3/10/15 Various inks, watercolor, Caran d'Ache Museum water-soluble colored pencils, Canson XL 140 lb. paper|
You’ve probably heard of the concept of “the third place.” In many cultures, it’s the place that is neither home nor work but something like a pub or café where people gather informally. It’s the place where people can make a transition – leaving behind the formal structures of work before going home to a different role.
When I worked full-time, I used my bus commute home as my personal “third place.” Although commuting didn’t have the social aspect of a true third place, I used that bus riding time to read, usually fiction, and the book would transport me away from the stresses of work so that I could enjoy a relaxed evening at home.
Now that I work part-time and only for myself, I don’t have nearly the same levels of stress or responsibility that I used to have, so I don’t have the same need for a personal third place. Every now and then, though, I might leave a client meeting feeling tense from an unresolved issue or a discussion that left a bad taste in my mouth.
That’s when I find it especially helpful to stop on my way home for a sketch. Like a good book that transports me to a different place, my sketchbook immediately takes me away from whatever tension I was feeling and puts my head in the middle of two trees and a tangle of power lines. By the time I’ve painted the shadows in the street a half-hour later, I’m relaxed again and ready to move on.