So I paint canvases. This is a part of my life. Just one part. I am many things just like all of you. I also go to the gym almost every day and still almost die doing anything more than 10 push-ups so you should know I can be very dedicated to things I’m not technically great at.
The painting stuff is something I don’t think I’ve shared much about in this space. I think it’s always been something I haven’t quite known how to own. Imposter syndrome has been a lousy passenger.
My childhood was a dabbling in all things creative. That part of my story is not unique unless, to you, painting rocks to look like the faces of animals is not your definition of a normal pastime. Bright Indian bracelets. Baking clay beads to look like flowers. Selling jewelry. And following Bob Ross along in his happy way to learn a few things. This was my zone. My mom was a ninja of supplying things to inspire my creativity and then pulling back silently — no cheap praise or helicopter prodding.
I always kept my paint supplies. Same clear box—cracked at the side. I refuse to replace it. It’s got starving artist written all over it and that’s a message I can get on board with. From time to time in college and after getting married, I would pull the box out and mess around on a canvas. This was purely therapeutic. I would delight in the colors coming alive. It was the one thing I could get so ridiculously absorbed in that I would forget time, eating, and even where I was. I’ve never had any delusions that I was even remotely good. I just felt better from doing it. Like centering myself.
One day two years ago, after sharing a painting on Facebook, a friend asked, “hey, can I buy that?” The thought of someone buying one of these things genuinely blew my mind. Another thing that blew my mind, about a week later while standing in the UPS lobby in a state of abject horror, was shipping costs for a painting. But it was the spark (I needed) that lit a weird and wonderful fire. In six months, kind friends and family (and even a couple strangers) bought 17 paintings from me while I tried to churn out anything that someone might want.
I’m 34 now. And to catch us all up to speed in what is quickly seeming like the most grotesque display of narcissism to ever make it’s way to a blog post— I would like to take up painting with more intentionality and devotion and that means I have some work to do.
Study. I have absolutely no training beyond Art I from freshman year in high school where I learned things like “shade even darker” and “never use black in a painting”. At 34 I’m going to need to loop back and learn the fundamentals. There are so many things I’m curious about and want to try. There are things I see—but don’t have the vernacular to describe. I used to practice drawing and I want to do more of that. I want to have a repertoire of basics to pull from and I just lack all that right now. It’s never too late to be who you might have been. Isn’t that how the saying goes? The me who I might have been knows things about art and has words for those things.
Time. Blocks of time. I’m using them. This is how the magic happens with anything. Show up consistently. Stay curious. Keep at it. Stop painting right before I actually want to. That’s what I’m currently doing. I’m not just going at it in waves anymore. I’m steady this time. Paint—-and then back to my other responsibilities. And then paint—-and repeat the cycle. Essentially, I’m not painting when I feel like it anymore. I’m painting because I’ve witnessed that time in is almost entirely the answer to growth in any other area of life. I’m putting in the hours.
Connecting. There are a few new things I would like to do. The 1st one is what I’m doing right now. Flushing out thoughts on this topic here on the blog. The 2nd one is getting connected with other artists in my area & having my art actually viewed and/or displayed rather than just online and in my home. I’m clueless about how to get connected to other artists but I’ve been clueless about all of the rest of this so far and that has yet to stop me.
Something that is really important for me to say is this next thing.
Every single kind word, generous praise, comment of encouragement and painting purchase—as well as all those supplies my mom has gifted me & the completely underserved admiration from my husband who has been found hanging up my paintings on our walls when I’m not around and can’t tell him no…
You all have brought me to this place. A place where I can share of myself and feel connected to others. You are helping pave the way for my training (non-trad student—what what!) and fueled me for the journey.
So thank you for all of the positivity that has pushed me on. I think you guys have seen something in me that I still can’t see. I’m pretty sure of that. But I want to keep going. And I’m so deeply grateful that the generosity of others has allowed me to do so. You have breathed life into me in so many wonderful ways.
I wish this post could have been funnier to distract all of us from the disgusting navel gazing. My sincerest apologies.
Patricia, if you are reading this —thank you for nudging me to put some thoughts to this whole thing. You rock.