Discovering the Joy of Painting and the Art of Letting Go

(Stock photo: Free images)

I'm a perfectionist. If you know me, this won't come as a surprise to you. If you're also a perfectionist, who, like me, has good taste but little artistic ability, I recommend you try something new: social painting.

If you've never heard of this trend, allow me to explain: It's where you go to an art studio with friends and follow instructions to recreate a predetermined scene while drinking wine and having a good ol' time. It's also been called a wine and canvas event.

I kid you not, when I went this week, I almost refused to drink any of the wine because I wanted to keep all my faculties sharp and blow that painting assignment out of the water.

But then, my sister-in-law offered to buy me a drink, and, well, the whole "getting it perfect with a completely focused mind" thing started to seem really overrated. 

At the place we chose, called Arts and Carafes Cafe, the studio owner, Jackie Sporte, and the on-duty teacher/artist, Taylor, walked us through the whole thing step by step. 

The scene of the day was an autumn forest, specifically a wood full of birch trees. Taylor, the artist, took us through the basics, from taping the canvas to start the underpainting, to what brush to use, to when to rinse it, to how to mix the colors, to when to switch to a different brush.

It reminded me very much of watching a favorite PBS show from childhood, "The Joy of Painting" with Bob Ross, only instead of just watching, this time, I was participating. 

I technically never took an art class, so my experience with painting has been limited to sporadic 4-H classes and "The Joy of Painting" show. I didn't pursue either very proactively because it wasn't an area of natural gifting for me.

Here's my painting! (Photo: Faith Watson)

As you can see above, it still isn't. 

But here's something I learned during this night out with my sister and sister-in-law: You've got to let go of that self-criticism. The pursuit of creativity is always worthwhile, even if it's painful to you because you don't like how your work turns out. 

Why? Because your hand and brush connect, you mix the colors, you flex your creative muscles and you exert power over your canvas. You listen to toe-tapping music, feeling the wine on your tongue. You hear the laughter of your friends, and you feel in your bones that you've just made something. Something that didn't exist before.

That's what creativity is all about. 

What do you make?

What kinds of creations have you made with your hands? How did you feel during the creative process, regardless of the end result? I'd love to hear your story. Leave me a comment below or over at my Facebook Community page.

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