A personal paradox of sorts. If I'm not drawing or painting (icons, that is), I start having trouble with prayer (nothing spectacular, just the usual difficulties for me, distractions, boredom, inattention, discouragement. And of course, if I'm going through this or that struggle with prayer, then, you guessed it, it becomes more difficult to paint (distractions, boredome, inattention, discouragement.). Yet, the answer doesn't seem to be either more prayer or more time in the studio, although that would seem the obvious way to proceed. But what usually turns things around is not more activity but less (even activity that would seem condusive to prayer and iconpainting such as reading scripture or a spiritual writer.)
From time to time it helps to find time to simply sit quietly in my prayer corner and try to clear my mind and just be present. But certain types of activities are helpful and some days (like this morning,) its better to do something that takes a lot of concentration but doesn't require any evaluation and analysis. Like cleaning up the kitcken and taking out the garbage and recycling (which is what I did this morning -- Monday is garbage day where I live. Other days I straighten up the studio. (It helps me to have something to do with my hands.). It was only then that I was able to be disposed for prayer and eventually, to start drawing.
I used to think that I could just step into prayer or painting. But I realize that I need time and space to prepare (which is why, when I'm serving at Mass, I need to be there at least 30 minutes ahead of time). A part of me wishes that I could simply show up, ready to begin.
I now know better, having discovered that it takes time for all of me to arrive. Otherwise I risk being only superficially present.
For me, its something like getting a gessoed panel (a wooden board covered with a smooth and polished layer of plaster on it) ready for the gold and the painting. The Master is the one doing praying (and the painting) but I have to show up with the panel (actual and metaphorical) ready for His presence and His hand.