This time last year I decided to give oil painting a try. So I wrangled a friend I thought would be interested, signed up for a class at City Art, then invested more money in a starter set of paints, brushes and canvases than I thought was fiscally possible.
Turns out it was all part of a larger plan. Because whether or not I had any talent, I was so deeply invested in the hobby after that first class I had to keep painting. And that taught me a thing or two:
1. It is a very good thing to step out of your comfort zone from time to time. I remember climbing those steps at City Art every week with the thought running through my head “I have no idea what I am doing.” And I was right. I didn’t have a clue about even the technical aspects of oil painting, much less the artistic ones.
2. It is a very good thing to exercise a new part of your brain. For me, simply holding a big paint brush and learning to use different strokes was like learning to walk, or ride a bike, or eat with chop sticks. I could feel parts of my brain stretching as I concentrated on How do I physically do this?
3. It is a very good thing to confront a fear head-on. If you’ve never known terror, strap a big blank canvas to a French Easel and approach it with a loaded paint brush. Your heart will race; your hands will shake; your knees may well buckle. It is terrifying. But my friend Kevin Smith, who is a very good painter, pushed me forward with this advice:
Focus on completing a painting in one session. Use big brushes and big strokes and fill up the canvas. Don’t worry about anything else; just complete it.
It was the perfect advice for me, a perfectionist who never finishes anything. Complete liberation.
4. It’s a very good thing to realize that you don’t have to be exceptional at something to enjoy it. I’ve created some really awful artwork. But I’ve also finished two or three paintings that I kind of love. And I know I’ll keep painting simply because I enjoy the process of painting. For now, for me, that is enough.
My sweet husband hung one of my paintings on a wall in our house. I see it every morning as I walk down the hall from the bedroom to the kitchen. Here’s what I thought when I passed by that Big Sky today:
Isn’t it wonderful that the world is filled with new things to learn, every single day?
30 Days of Grace