Sometime over the last year or two, writing went from being my hobby to being something more of a vocation. It's not because I started making money at it (I haven't really...yet), but I committed to it in a way that made it somehow different. I set goals, objectives, and timelines. I started investing more time, and more-than-just my time, in it; I'm spending money to attend conferences and workshops; I've joined writer organizations; and I'm querying my work to agents. You know, stuff that makes it feel more like a legit, budding career.
I've dabbled a bit in art my whole life. I've always enjoyed it, but, especially as an adult, I found myself constrained by fear and scarcity when it came to art-making. I was always a little worried that what I would create might suck. Or, if what I started to create was good, that I might ruin it by continuing to work on it. I would buy art supplies and then be afraid to "waste them" on something not worthy. And I thought I had to wait to have a "real art space" and "real time" in order to create. Basically, I froze.
Is that weird? Is that just me?
Anyway, that all finally changed earlier this year. I can't explain exactly how it happened; a confluence of events, like most things, I suppose. This change with my writing work + the inspiration of others + an online art class + one of those moments when the light bulb just finally goes off. Whatever it was, something clicked and, like an epiphany, I suddenly understood the idea of #artplay.
And now, I'm kind of addicted.
What started out as a way to unlock my writing-- something I call #Creativitycrosstraining-- has just plain taken over. I find sitting down on my art mat the most engaging and relaxing thing I can do. It's like soul yoga--bending, stretching, breathing, relaxing for my spirit. It is a meditative practice and I just love it.
Over the past few months, I've simply claimed a corner near a window in our dining room-- out of the way of foot traffic and main sightlines through the house--and set up camp. And I never clean it up. I found that if I put it away, I forget to do it; or I think of it, but don't feel like getting it all out and setting it up. Now, I just randomly wander by, plop down, and start painting.
I also found that watching online videos of artists-at-work was helpful both in learning and in opening up, getting playful, and trying new things. I paid to join an online art class with artist and teacher Juliette Crane*-- which I highly recommend. But you can also find about a million videos on Youtube for free.
Juliette taught me to loosen up and play. She taught me that art is a layering process, just like writing. You don't sit down and paint a masterpiece in one perfect try; you layer. If you don't like something, go over it again; change it. Like revisions in writing. White paint erases most anything.
Sometimes I actually follow along like an art class, but a lot of times I use the videos to get me started and then just let them play in the background while I create. I like being in the company of other creators; like when my writing friends and I do write-ins...it's an art-in, but on my dining room floor.
The point of all of this is to say that I found something that I really enjoy; something that I'm doing for no real purpose, other than to enjoy myself; and I think that's really important. Our lives are so full of to-do's and must-do's and have-to's. We need things in our lives that exist in a place of pure joy.
Until next time, find a creative outlet; something you love to do for no invested outcome; something you just do because you do. Paint. Draw. Scrapbook. Refinish furniture. Journal. Bake. Write poetry. Garden. Take pictures. Whatever it is that feeds your soul and calms your nerves and makes your heart sing. Go do that thing. And do it often.
You can follow my creative life (and see my paintings--and book reco's-- on the regular) on Instagram @bookwormanista here: https://instagram.com/bookwormanista
* If you're interested in exploring your inner artist, I highly recommend Juliette Crane's online art classes: http://www.juliettecrane.com/courses/. If you're local to the Hershey area, also check out Splat Studio in Annville: https://splatfamilyart.com; new class offerings are always in the works there...or just come over to my dining room floor and paint with me. :-)