The power of daily painting (1) – Reclaim your creativity
Daily painting is the fundamental element in my art practice. I paint every single day. I make exceptions, though. I never paint on weekends and holidays, and I skip my painting practice when something urgent happens that I have to deal with. But if that’s not the case, I paint. Period.
There is so much to say about the importance of daily painting that I could write a whole book about it:
- Daily painting helps you to reclaim your lost creativity
- Daily painting kills procrastination
- Daily painting undermines self-doubt and fear
- Daily painting helps you to handle your inner art critic
- Daily painting lets you tap into your creativity
- Daily painting grows your craft
- Daily painting is a spiritual practice, similar to meditation
- Daily painting gets you from thinking to doing mode
- Daily painting gets you from thinking to being mode
- And last, but not least, daily painting is fun!
Because there is so much to say about daily painting, I will break it down into pieces and write more than one blog post about it. This first blog post is about how daily painting helps you to reclaim your lost creativity. If this rings a bell, read along!
It is not always easy
Art making is a fantastic thing to do. It gives color to your life and makes you happy in very many ways. Contrary to what many people think, however, it is not always fun and easy. When I do my daily painting practice, I often dread starting. Sometimes I don’t feel inspired, or I get stuck because I don’t know what I should do since there are so many possibilities. Sometimes I feel that I fail as an artist, while everyone else seems to paint without any effort, and many days I feel rushed because there are lots of other things on my plate.In short, starting to paint is not always fun, and sometimes I run into a wall.
Art feeds my soul
At the same time, I know art-making is very important to me. It feeds my soul and keeps me centered. I love the smell of paint, the sound of scratching Indian Ink on paper, the excitement of making bold marks. I love forgetting myself and disappearing into a magical world of colors, lines, and shapes. One thing is for sure: I don’t want to stop making art.
A serious promise
At the same time, I know that if I had not made a serious promise to myself to paint on a daily basis, I would have skipped the painting by now. I would have started procrastinating to make art and would slowly have drifted away from painting on a regular basis.
The thing is, procrastination is self-reinforcing. Once you start procrastinating and skip one day of painting, it becomes more probable that you skip the next day, too. The things that hinder you today will probably still hinder you tomorrow. Your life situation or your psychological makeup will not have changed overnight. Next day you can still feel uninspired, doubtful, busy, and tired. The counterforces that keep you from painting have probably not changed.
This sounds exaggerated maybe. Why talk about counterforces? What on earth can be so difficult about making marks or putting paint on paper? At first sight, this is true. Just pick up a pencil and make marks! Buy a bottle of paint and try something out! Don’t make such a big deal out of it! But for most grown-ups, it is not that easy.
This is different for an average child. If you give a four-year-old child a piece of paper and a few crayons, it scratches happily along without any barriers. Expressing oneself through art is for most children as natural as running, laughing, screaming, and crying.
Once you become older, things change, though. There are other people around who have opinions about your painting. The cat you just drew should have smaller ears or a longer tail. The trunk of your trees should be brown, not purple, and the leaves should be green, not blue. Or maybe it’s the other way around. Your parents or your teachers tell you how special and beautiful your paintings are, so you feel there is a standard set that you have to meet next time.
Reclaiming the right to create
Once you are grown up, there is usually not much left from the freedom and unconcerned joy that you experienced as a child. The bold and wild artist within has withered and become uncertain and insecure. Nonetheless, the blocked and inhibited adult that you have grown into still remembers how it feels to paint without constraints. You know deep inside that it is still possible to paint wildly and with abandon. You still realize that it is your birthright to create.
Once you reclaim this right and start painting again, your first steps on the path of art can feel wobbly. It is very seductive to step back to the safe path and the well-known territory of coloring within the lines. You have to unlearn seriousness and let go of the constraint and the neatness and relearn to be bold, wild, intuitive and playful again.
This is no easy change. You can feel very uncertain while making this change, and we as humans generally don’t like this wobbly feeling. Subconsciously we are wired to stay away from unknown territory.
So when you want to rediscover the wild artist within again, you need to take a steady approach. Your playful self might not feel firmly on his or her feet yet, so taking baby steps is the way to go. Daily painting is a beautiful way of taking such baby steps. Doing so, you slowly and gently guide your inner artist back into your world and your daily life. By painting every day, you steadily rewire yourself. You learn that it is not necessary to feel comfortable and safe when you create. By taking one baby step at a time, a new path arises. Because you paint every day, you reclaim your creativity and start to trust yourself as a creator again.
How have you reclaimed your creativity again? Let me know in the comments below, or become part of the ArtNow Community and join in our shared art journey there!