I’ve been thinking a lot about why I encourage people to paint. Why I think it’s good to connect to your creative self and exactly why I encourage people to draw and make their daily life richer. And this is what I came up with.
Artists are problem solvers. Some are linear and precise, but they need to know about and experiment with their art materials to achieve photo-realistic accuracy. Some are crazy, mad, unexpected and wild. They seem to approach painting with abandon and mixed media is their friend (and possibly their frenzy). Whether it’s a distinct message, a memory, a feeling or a wish they are expressing, there is research to be done and trial and error to be welcomed. Leonardo da Vinci found it worked for him! I think this problem solving approach is so useful in all areas of your life.
Kids are generally really impressed with a parent who’s an artist. It makes you a bit special. And it’s a great thing to make time to do with your kids. One of my students is a racing car driver (which impresses me A LOT) and since she’s been coming to art, her kids introduce her to their friends as an artist. And so they should. It’s a super cool thing to be.
I don’t know about you that when I see friends we’re usually eating. Sometimes it’s exercising. But usually, we’re eating. But making art with friends, whether in a Painting Party or at home at the dinner table, or on a weekend away together, really makes a memorable memory. And, of course, you can eat and drink at the same time if you wish, but the good thing is that you’ll have something to show for your time together.
When I draw and paint time just melts away. Sometimes I play music and try to move to the beat while I paint. Other times I listen to podcasts and my mind wanders as the picture appears. Sometimes the painting just doesn’t work and I’m frustrated. But, you know what? Life goes on and I come back and try again. It’s good to spend that time in an unpredictable, but very safe, environment. And sometimes the magic happens and I’m so glad it found me working. I recommend the surrender.
It’s good to challenge yourself, and with art you don’t even have to sweat to do it. Read a book or watch a video. Have a go at a subject or art supply you haven’t tried before. I highly recommend doing what you’re told in a project if you’re a beginner, and then letting loose once you’ve started learning the new skill. And Lord knows, what’s the worse that could happen? You tear out the page, or gesso over the painting and start again another day. Don’t keep doing the things you know you can do. Push yourself and learn. And I’m talking about repetition. Don’t paint one face, or tulip, or landscape and not like it and give up! Paint one, read a bit more about how to do it, then paint it again, and again, and again, taking and experimenting with advice from experts as you go, and you will get better. That’s why I encourage people to date their sketches and plans because you’ll SEE the improvement if you do the work.
Have you noticed? Meditation and mindfulness are all the rage right now. I went to a conference earlier this year and one of the speakers got us all to do a quiz to determine our level of mindfulness. Now, I don’t want to toot my own horn, but I’m going to do it anyway – my mindfulness was off the charts. I know I notice how things look and feel and smell and taste every day. My weight on the chair, the feel of the keyboard as I type this, the rustle of my hair as I move my head… I really do notice this stuff most of the time. And when I make time to paint and get ‘in the zone’, I’m a happier person. It really is meditation for me. And the lovely thing is, it’s productive as well. I recommend it.
So whether you’re a confident painter or a total newbie, please get your hands on a pencil, or a felt pen, or a brush and some paint and have a go. Draw your own hand. Draw your desk. Draw your bedroom. Draw your breakfast. Draw your jewellery. Draw your own face. Come along to a painting party or try one online. Paint with your kids. Or someone else’s kids.
Embrace the wonk and enjoy the journey.
It’s good for you.