This Little Miggy Stayed Home: The Joy(s) of Painting

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

The Joy(s) of Painting

I'm still riding high from last weekend's art-a-thon.  I've been wanting to write about it and while I feel this little essay doesn't quite capture the essence of what I'm trying to say, I know that if I don't post it now, it will never get posted.  Also, I thought a little life-of-a-painting photo essay to go along with my thoughts might be of interest to some of you.    

I love creating art.  Since I was very young, drawing and painting have been a part of my life.  When I was younger I found it challenging to try and replicate something exactly as it was in real life.  That was being a 'good artist' in my mind, as it is to a lot of people.  Of course technical skill is a talent to be sought and admired, I'm not knocking it.  As I grew older and particularly in college when I decided to major in painting I started to learn and understand a lot more about art.  Although I have found the great irony of if all is the more I learn, the more I recognize how little I actually know.  But there are some things I really love about painting, especially as they relate to life, and one idea in particular that I wanted to share.

I remember sitting in a critique once looking at a painting from one of the masters students and my professor was pointing out all the trouble spots in her painting.  He told her to sand it down (the benefit of painting on wood), fix it and they'd look at it again.  At first I was confused.  How exactly was she supposed to fix it?  What was she going to do?  Was he looking for a certain color, shape or technique?  Of course there was no definitive answer.  This is probably obvious to you.  From that first critique I learned that there are a million different ways to make a painting right.  She could go a hundred different directions and any number of them could potentially fix the problem.

I find a lot of comfort in that idea.  The idea that there are a million different ways to be right.  To be beautiful, to be good, to be happy, to be unique.  There's this notion floating around that religious people are some sort of pre-programmed robots, all taught to act, think, eat, and drink exactly the same way.  We're mindless drones following orders without question.  And worse still, we lack individuality.  Of course I think that's absurd and every time I paint I'm reminded of it.  To live within a set of guidelines, I call them commandments, has never left me feeling stifled and oppressed.  Think of the person who wakes up at 6 am to exercise every morning, watches what they eat, and avoids sugar.  To some it's confining, but the freedoms that come with health and strength are priceless.   Even when painting, there are rules I abide by, but within those rules the diversity and beauty is limitless.... endless variety as my professor used to say.  

Even without such insights, last weekend was invigorating, uplifting and joyful.  I used my talent.  I practiced, developed, and exercised my talent.  I often find that amidst the world of blogging, pinterest and facebook I can feel untalented and bland.  Look at all these beautiful people doing beautiful things!  Rather than try to compete with that--even if it's just a competition in my head--I decided to do what I do best and focus on my talents.  If I may be so bold, I would encourage you to do the same.  It feels great.  

I used to be a little snobbish when it came to art and life metaphors, but I've come to recognize that life metaphors can be found in a variety of interests, hobbies and sports.  I'd be interested to hear what your interests and talents have taught you.   


  1. This was a WONDERFUL post! I love your paintings. :)

    At one point in my young life (junior high), I considered myself an "artist". (I actually won Art Student of the Year for my grade in junior high! Let me tell you, it was thrilling!) Yet, I had too many activities in my life and wasn't able to keep up with it. I did some pieces that were actually pretty good, but my "career" ended after ninth grade. (One of my favorites was a white-penciled portrait of Albert Einstein on black mat board that used to hang in our bathroom! I found it completely hilarious for a person to be taking care of business while Albert was staring into their soul!)

    At any rate, I feel that you are a TRUE artist - in more ways than one. Keep up the great work, because this world needs all of the beauty that comes from an artist's mind!

    P.S. Another reason I gave up "my" art is because I was WAY too perfectionistic. It would take me weeks to finish a piece. Even when I finished, I couldn't stand looking at it because I would see all of the places I messed up on, or could have done better. I've wondered if now I would be a better "artist" - because I've learned to let go, and not be so perfectionistic? I don't know. I'm hoping that one day I will try creating something again!

  2. Loved this post. You're right, time to focus on OUR talents. Your painting is just divine. You need to keep doing it and sharing them with us.

  3. This is a beautiful, beautiful post. Thank you so much for sharing- it lifted my spirits tonight.

  4. I love your paintings. Especially the last one in this post. Thanks for sharing!

  5. Hi. I'm Jessie's little sister. She told me about your art a thon and so I came to check it out. Very inspiring. I think you are spot on. Three cheers for a million ways to be right.

  6. your painting is Awesome you are a great Artist I love the Artist I hug the Artist thanks a lot for sharing this great information Painting Company

  7. Loved this amy. Great metaphor. I have thought similar thoughts.