Painting my way to the center.

paint 3

I knew once I started noticing the birds outside the window and doing a mental inventory of my art teacher’s studio that I had learned about as  much painting technique as my limited attention span could handle. My instructor taught me how to paint with acrylics last spring (because it was on my 2012 bucket list).  She was wonderful and made me realize that there is no such thing as a bad painting and you can always paint over anything you think is a ‘mistake.’

However I started to notice toward the end of our time together that my teacher closely followed her own set of painting rules.  I’m not big on rules, and especially letting layers of paint dry which most artists do.  So by the end of our time together I couldn’t help but think about how many paintings I could crank out  in one third the time we were taking to do one in class.  Clearly I’m not big on details and patience is far from a virtue of mine, so it was time to fly the coop.  I now create paintings whenever I need a mental break or need to procrastinate.

As I paint sometimes I like to take progress photos.  With this large, 4′ x 2′ painting, my goal was to create my own interpretation of another painting (see bottom pic and photos of the three phases of its life).

It may be because my head cold is making me delirious and more reflective than usual, but some life lessons which were at work as I did this painting have come to mind:

-In the beginning I had no idea how to start but threw some paint on the canvas and started anyway without over thinking it.  (Over-analysis leads to paralysis. Just do it.)

-I had doubts during the  first phase, but powered on. I could always reuse the canvas.  (Gag the self-doubt gremlins and keep on keepin’ on.)

-I had to  level-set my expectations for the final result (it was going to be my version of the other painting, it didn’t have to look just like the inspiration painting).

-I’m pretty sure I was 95 percent relaxed while I did this painting (even though I was most suredly procrastinating something else like touring nursing facilities for my mother).  But for the most part, I set everything else aside once I got going. (I got out of my head and relaxed and breathed.)

-I could have easily said ‘I don’t have time’ to paint that day.  (But I made time because I was feeling out of balance … whether I realized it on a conscious level or not.)

The end result is a cool painting that is somewhat similar to the inspiration piece but I actually like mine better.

And you know that theory about finding a creative outlet to relieve stress?  It works.

In fact, the benefits of any kind of focused artistic creation (painting, collaging, gardening, photography, writing, you  name it) are said to include distraction, flow (getting completely engaged in something to the point of almost meditating) and  balance.

All of these things help you become more centered which really feels good.  Pretty cool concept.  I’m grateful that I’ve learned this.

What have you created lately?


Phase 1

paint 2

Phase 2

paint 3

My final painting.


Inspiration piece.

Give me a dam break. (And it’s not what you’re thinking.) Gratitude experiment: Day 10

I had an interesting conversation with someone today about exploring new interests and skills and what compels one to do so. I find it strange that I have decided to get serious about real writing and also learn to paint this year when both of these things have been on my bucket list for years with little to no action on my part.  Why would I would pick a phase of my life when I have so many stressful events happening to get serious about two pretty big line items on my list?  The timing just seems odd.

Is it because I really am less content with the work I do for a living?  Lately it does seem kind of silly and mundane. And I have a really hard time getting as fired up about things as much as my clients do. Actually as much as I used to back when I donned the corporate cloak and meeting an ad deadline was worth ruining everyone’s weekend for.

Or is it because I’ve read enough self help and positive energy books to fill a library (and provide much amusement to my relatives with my new age philosophies and hypotheses).  I truly am a firm believer in the laws of attraction and the power of visualization.

Maybe it’s because I keep getting reminded of how short life can be.  Or worse…what if I’m falling in line with the cliche of the the middle aged woman who wants to “find” herself? Luckily I’m not dressing like a hippie just yet and I can’t stand the smell of patchouli.

It’s probably more likely that it’s some form of self-soothing to escape and to find a different kind of release.

I’m really not sure what the answer is. But it does makes me wonder what else is possible and what could happen if I decided to open the throttle a little more.  Maybe I’ve had it on halfway for a while – following the path of least resistance and what’s expected. I think we all fall into that trap more often than we’d like to admit – building dams of resistance that maybe just have to break at some point.  The result can transform the slow trickling stream of content into a swollen river of possibilities.

One thing is for certain.  It feels right.  And for that, I’m grateful.