‘It’s like losing sense of time and place’: Artist, filmmaker explore flow state for short film
‘Phthalo Blue’ screens in Base Village on Saturday night
What: “Phthalo Blue” screening
When: Saturday, 8 p.m.
Where: Turf lawn outside The Collective, Snowmass Base Village
Seating: Free on a first-come, first-served basis
More info: bit.ly/phthalo-blue
When Kelly Peters paints, she gets deep into “the zone,” so deep that everything else seems to melt away as she connects brush with canvas.
“It’s like losing sense of time and place,” said Peters, a Snowmass Village-based artist who also owns and operates Straight Line Studio in Base Village.
The process through which Peters enters this zone — painting — made her an apt subject through which Florida filmmaker and researcher Lizzy Fowler could observe the “flow state.”
The resulting product is “Phthalo Blue,” a short film named for Peters’ favorite pigment that will debut Saturday during “Movies Under the Stars” in Base Village. Fowler and Peters will lead a Q&A in conjunction with the screening.
“I’ve always wanted to make a film that brought art to life and really delved into where creativity stems from, which is a very broad goal to go for,” Fowler said.
“Phthalo Blue” is a step toward that goal, serving as the pilot for a seven-episode series, “Psychic Union,” that will tell stories from across the globe to explore the relationship between the flow state and “creativity, motivation or even inspiration,” according to a mission statement Fowler emailed.
It also ties into research Fowler is working on with Dr. Janet Banfield at Oxford on flow states and peak performance. The series will include artists like Peters but also others who find their flow through different means like extreme sports, according to Fowler. She believes anyone can enter the state — more experience in the activity used to get there makes it easier — and that doing so can be beneficial beyond the task at hand.
“I think it’s a powerful tool, especially for this generation, to get people more in touch with a healthy way of living,” Fowler said.
Peters can attest to that.
“I think the journey has been so much about leaning into my passion and what makes me happy. … For me, getting into this state is so helpful for my mental health,” Peters said.
The filming experience was a “weirdly intimate” one for Peters, who would rather not be the one in front of the camera and under someone else’s close watch. But after film shoots in four states — they worked in the Aspen-Snowmass area; Driggs, Idaho and nearby Jackson Hole, Wyoming; and Moab, Utah — the two have a uniquely close relationship.
“I’m a little flattered. It’s very interesting — I think Lizzy has probably seen something about me that a lot of people haven’t,” Peters said.
That closeness and time spent under observation brought out a side to Peters’ creative process that most people who know her likely haven’t encountered, even if they were taking classes or watching her work in her studio in Snowmass Village. Peters said that though she’s outgoing, she isn’t apt to share her inner workings with others.
Fowler shared the sentiment of connection.
“Seeing her come to life and notice even in the smallest ways how her hand is moving, … it’s been really cool to kind of get inside her head,” Fowler said.
“I’m practically a Peters now,” she joked.
Part of the intimacy, perhaps, comes from the nature of the “flow state” in which the subject is fully immersed in the experience, unaware of what is happening around them. (Some refer to it as being “in the zone.”)
Fowler said those who enter the state show something akin to effortlessness; it can be mesmerising to watch and to document, prompting the possibility that Fowler, as the documentarian, could be entering her own zone of sorts.
“Technically, there is no research if I could be in my own flow state filming while she’s also painting, but … from the footage that my other team members gathered, it looked like it was happening,” Fowler said.
She doesn’t want to get too in the weeds on flow begetting flow yet, though.
“I can’t think too much about that,” Fowler laughed.
Both the filmmaker and the subject hope “Phthalo Blue” inspires viewers to seek their own flow state, they said. The film itself also should promise a unique viewing experience, Fowler noted; this is no sepia-toned documentary.
“It’s pretty psychedelic,” Fowler said, “just like Kelly’s art.”
Back in 2013, while working on a proposed box set of archival recordings, singer-songwriter Melissa Etheridge came across a group of songs that had been recorded in the late 1980s but never released.
Support Local Journalism
Support Local Journalism
Readers around Aspen and Snowmass Village make the Aspen Times’ work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.
Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.
Each donation will be used exclusively for the development and creation of increased news coverage.