Why I Paint And Why I Believe You Should Start Painting Too
It was a day like any other, except that day I felt especially exhausted from the bureaucratic and soulless office work I had been doing for years and more than ever I felt trapped, hopeless and lost. I should mention as well that my 30 birthday was approaching, which made me feel more restless and if I was in war with myself, in desperate need to control at least something. You know that feeling when you wake up in the morning and you have energy and various ideas come to your mind, and you eagerly want to start something for yourself, something that will make you feel alive but then you spend eight hours at work and you come back home and you don’t know where that morning enthusiasm evaporated because the only thing that you want now is to curl up in bed and just sleep until next morning. And so it goes, circle in a circle, well, I decided that day, although as you can imagine this decision was building for many past years, that I do not want to keep killing my ideas, my desires, my faith, courage and dreams, I no longer can afford to waste more time, killing my individuality just to be that one well fit adult with steady incomes and state job, satisfying with average happiness, only it is not happiness but masked cowardice and apathy.
That day, while feeling all fed up I stumbled upon this quote from Carl Jung- “What did you do as a child that made the hours pass like minutes? Herein lies the key to your earthly pursuits” I felt it screamed at me, like a slap, like a sob, as a sign from someone who knows me and sympathizes with me, like a universe reminding me to start living again aligned with my purpose. Somehow I always knew that there was and still is an artist in me, especially then when I felt so unspeakably trapped, I would imagine every time while standing on the balcony how just in a few giant steps I would climb those distant white peaks of the hills that were staring at me every day, and how something magnificent would wait for me there. I would watch clouds changing their shapes from fiery dragons then splitting to dozens of small sheep to human faces and eyes looking from above and thinking how a great story can be created from all these scenes that were coming and disappearing in few seconds. And then, finding encouragement by speaking to the magnificent Moon every evening, romanticizing the idea how perfect and hopeful it is to see stars and Moon and know that no matter what happens on this chaotic and scary planet it will be there. Truly, my imagination has always been my escape when this world becomes too cruel and hopeless and through painting I rediscovered how at the same time this world is so wonderful, tender and meaningful.
I just have to create. I believe we must all do. Ever since I started painting, I feel that I am much closer to who I want to be, becoming someone who is calmer, more patient, has more faith and optimism, and most importantly, everything has started to make much more sense. If you feel a little like me, I would suggest you get brushes and paints and start creating today, tomorrow, and keep on creating months and years from now and you will undoubtedly understand what I am talking about. I would like to remind here that not all great painters knew from their early childhood that they will be painters when they grow up and best of them wandered in a desperate search for the meaning. I was reading a book from Irving Stone “Lust for Life”, about the life of the great van Gogh, the book was so empathetically and beautifully written and I would recommend it to anyone, as it is not a book about a famous painter as it is about a struggle and long search of a hopeless man surrounded by people who not only did not understand him but were forcing on him life that just wasn’t for him.
These are my reasons why I paint and why I believe you should too.
• You start really seeing the world around you and that will make you feel alive
When you start painting you will discover colors you never knew existed, you will begin to notice shapes, shadows, a play of light you would never notice before, clouds that transform every second into something new and you will want to make all those small unnoticeable moments eternal. You will want to save the dying flowers, as well as scream and rage on the canvas. You will begin to think about distant lands in a completely new way, of the human face, hands, body, emotion, it will be as if you are looking at the world with new eyes. The cloud will never be white again, but you will find so many unexpected color palettes in it, when it happens you will feel the appetite for a more beautiful, colorful, original life that you can create, you will feel like you have been sleeping and solely observing so that you can finally really look. You will no longer take for granted even a leaf playing on a wind, sunsets, colorful sky, wrinkles on a human face when it is smiling, you will think about everything you see as if there is some mystery around it and beauty that just need to be put on the canvas. And then, when you start paying attention to everything around you and really seeing, you will finally feel alive.
• Your mess becomes your weapon and your anxiety turns to flowers
I have always been a very messy person with a vivid imagination, always wrapped in my own chaos, having so many ideas and wanting to take so many roads and be so many people, which made it therefore harder to choose any road that would gave me peace and sense of meaning. Therefore, the chaos in me remained only confusion, obstacle, distraction, daydreaming, illusion and escape. However, in painting that same chaos became my weapon, my tool and my inspiration. All my anxiety and restlessness, all my re-examinations why I am like this and not more like that, why I am not happy with things that make most people happy, and through painting all that thorns growing inside of me tuned to beautiful petals of the most colorful flowers and since then I have not stopped hugging my chaos and spilling it on the canvas. Painting is so forgiving when it comes to making mistakes, as Bob Ross said that “We don’t make mistakes, just happy little accidents”, and truly mostly when you come to the point when you no longer know what you are doing and being so invested and passionate about it, you will be rewarded for and by any mistakes you make.
• You lose control and trade it for something more meaningful
Ever since I can remember I have always been a true control freak, maybe it is up to my astrological sign, personality, upbringing, people around me but I have never allowed myself to lose control over my actions and my whole life in general. Of course, as it always does, something happens to you that you can no longer control and when life pulls the rug out from your feet, you start feeding on fear, obsessing over all those horrible things that can happen to you and how to prevent them in advance. Such a condition becomes so toxic, exhausting, difficult and barren, that it takes from you everything you could and what you know you are capable of but dare not to try again. On the other hand, in painting, losing control means that you will paint a better painting, it means that you will create something that did not exist before, and that you will not even know how you made it. Anything bad that could happen while painting, making a mistake with proportions, mixing wrong colors, putting color in a wrong place, not really seeing the values and etc., all that will come through un unfriendly familiar voice who will tell you that you cannot paint but as incredible van Gogh once said that especially then when hearing that voice, “by all means paint and that voice will be silenced.”Losing control while painting very often will, if you do not give up on the painting, make it more original, free, real and yours, which is the most important. Trust me, you will be richly rewarded because you will learn that in painting not having control means regaining your power, your voice, your courage and your intuition, you will learn it means having faith in yourself.
• You get to create something that wasn’t there before
Although in the beginning you will certainly copy other people’s paintings, as well as movements, composition and setting of colors, but after some time you get to do point where your moves will become bold, fluid, light and you will become familiar and relaxed enough with colors in order to try something new, and then you will go beyond that, stepping away from what you learned, breaking rules while creating something original, something that has not been done in such a way so far, in such manner that will be something entirely yours and you will undoubtedly be proud of yourself. After all, don’t we all aspire to expressing ourselves in one way or another, wanting to be understood, as each of us has something that is burning in us to be said in such way that only we can say it.
• Interestingly, your faith in God becomes stronger
As a child, I often prayed before going to bed, although no one ever really taught me to pray, I somehow knew and felt that there was something or someone godlike. As I grew older I started having doubts in this idea, in my faith thinking how atheism was something I can relate to, however due to some personal struggles that I turned to art I regain my faith. Really, the more you paint, the more beautiful, humane, perfect the world will look to you, you become more aware of how many incredible, original, strange and colorful creatures God created, and as you imitate him, you will know that he is the greatest artist of all. You will know that someone had to create everything that exists on this amazing planet so carefully, patiently, cautiously, caring as a parent, ingeniously, as an author who signed his works so subtly, leaving his mark in our faith, soul and dreams.
• You get to belong to one amazing group of most courageous and honest people
You’ve probably heard of painters like da Vinci, van Gogh who I already mentioned, Renoir, Monet, Picasso, Frida Kahlo, Kandinsky, even if you know nothing about art. Surely you know something about their difficult, turbulent, poor, unfair, excessive, inspiring lives they led. You probably have heard of van Gogh’s difficult struggles with himself and his pursuits of meaningful life to finally express himself and show the world his compassion for those who suffer, you might have seen painting of beautiful people and dancing couples painted by Renoir believing that painting must be a feast for the eyes as the world is already hard as it is, you may read about Monet’s beautiful garden that people all over the world visited, how he nurtured his flowers and painted it with the care of the parents and about his persistent search to catch a light on the canvas, for Kahlo’s struggle with herself and against the nothingness of death, and all this is just a tiny bit of one large community of special people who were brave and who did not take an easier path. One of my favorites, French painter Henry Rousseau was a civil servant as well like me, actually a customs officer who started painting later in his life and he painted exotic landscapes, jungles and tigers he never saw but still created one mystical wild world he longed for. As you may suppose, art requires enormous amounts of courage, trust and hope, it is not for the weak ones, no matter how vulnerable artists seem. , although no one would dare to compare with such minds or strive to create such masterpieces the thing is that whether you wanted it or not by just painting you became part of an infinite, honest, brilliant, visionary community, and in such group you will find hope, encouragement and your tribe even when it seems that you are completely alone. Even today with social media, Pinterest and Instagram and other creative networks you can find that tribe anywhere in the world and keep staying supported and inspired.
These are some of my reasons for painting or in fact creating any other form of art, and you will certainly find more. Close your eyes, take a deep breath and remember “what did you do as a child that made the hours pass like minutes?”
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