The other day at the Day Job, I overheard one of my coworkers griping about the art class that she teaches. I love art classes. I wish I could take one that didn’t happen during my 8-to-5 adult-like schedule. I heart visual art. So what was the problem with her class?
“They’re afraid to paint. Just…paint.”
My immediate reaction was: That’s silly. Who the heck is afraid to paint, even if you don’t know how? We used to fingerpaint as kids all the time and were never afraid of it. Paint is just that. A medium. So why would anyone be afraid of it?
But then I started thinking about that.
When we’re kids, painting and other artsy fartsy activities take on the freedom of wild expression, the crazy imagination of some childhood wonderland, and it seems only natural to the kid version of you that what winds up on the paper is not only awesome, but a visual representation of a rich inner world.
But when we’re adults, paint becomes…art. There are expectations for art. There is pressure that instead of playing with and creating an outward piece of the inner world, we’re stuck with trying to make something pretty, moving, fantastic that everyone will like when they see it. Hipsters will salute you as they drink their PBR and nod as they mention your Rococo influence. Critics will mention your subtle hint of chiaroscuro. Your mother/spouse/significant other will burst into tears upon seeing it in all its glory, because hey—it’s art.
There is so much expectation behind creating something brilliant that you stall before you even start.
Sometimes we forget to play. Sometimes we forget that it’s okay to make mistakes as we learn. And sometimes we forget that the playing, learning, and mistake making is the fun part.
I’ll admit that I’ve been caught up in this mentality myself when flirting with a variety of visual art mediums. None of which I’m particularly adept at as I’m mostly just doing it for occasional shits and giggles. The first time I ever attempted spraypainting, aka spacepainting, I was so concerned with how it turned out that the first couple of times I really didn’t enjoy it. It wasn’t until I made myself post every creation for the world and internet to see, including the epic fails, that I began to play with the techniques, trying new things on the fly, and just having a bloody good time.
So, kiddies, don’t go into it thinking about the lofty goal of art. But just play. In writing. In paint. Whatever medium you choose.
Anyone you there have instances where they were afraid to create?