John Quincy Adams famously started his days by swimming nude in the Potomac River. Georgia O’Keefe would wake up at 6am, light a fire or a candle, then sit back in existential crisis until she was ready to start her work. Frida Kahlo began her day with a beauty ritual, braiding her hair and pining in the signature crown of flowers on her head.
Sound eccentric? The motions may be different, but morning routines are the bread and butter for any productive person, be it a founding father or famous artist. Here’s a look into a few morning routines of local creative people. (Warning, breakfast is optional.)
Zach Weston, photographer and executive director of Weston Collective, calls his routine “basic.” He starts his day early – by 4:30am. He does arm swings to get his blood flowing, then makes a cup of coffee and “commutes” to his on-site darkroom. He’ll prepare the chemicals, and while waiting for them to do their thing, he sits by the heater to warm up. Then it’s time to start developing. “If I sleep in – for me that’s like 8am.”
Hannah Brimer works at Monterey GlassWorks (and is their newest artist-in resident). Brimer’s routine is about setting up her mind-body connection, reinforcing creative thinking with the physical labor of art-making. She rolls out of bed between 6:30-7am and begins making a big pot of coffee for her household. She makes her first coffee in a specific mug, adds unsweetened vanilla oat milk, and then froths it with a handheld frother. She goes back into her room, lights a candle, and then does what she calls movement yoga to stretch out. She arrives at 9am to the studio in Sand City.
Before she gets to work, she does a group check-in with her coworkers. At some point she’ll make a second cup of coffee – double espresso, oat milk and hot water – again in a (different) specific mug. “My routine helps me clear my mind so I can prepare for the physical parts of my job,” she says.
For CSUMB professor and poet Rachelle Escamilla, a morning routine is integral to her writing. The time she spends away from her desk is where the majority of her poetic process takes place. Her daughter is her alarm clock, waking her up around 6:30-7am. She goes into full parenting mode, helping her daughter make the bed, get dressed and use the potty. Then she makes coffee with a French press, and makes breakfast – usually pancakes – then allows her daughter to have some screen time, generally an educational program on TV. Sometimes it’s Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood or painting along with Bob Ross. With her daughter occupied for the next 30 to 45 minutes, Escamilla goes outside to the basketball courts near her home and dances – sometimes she brings a kettlebell, other times it’s a rifle or flag from her time in color guard. “I think it’s a revolutionary act for a woman of color from poverty to take time for herself,” Escamilla says. “So few of us do.”