Throughout my school years Art was always my most favourite class. I enjoyed making clay mugs, tie dye cloth, painting pictures, and carving out those tiles that allowed for some sort of ink printing (I can’t remember what it was called). I would look forward to my art classes knowing that I’d be able to lose myself in some sort of flow. Time would fly by whereas it was quite the opposite when I went to history class!
When asked what I wanted to become as an adult I always told people I was going to be an artist. Upon hearing my declaration, my family always said the same old thing: ‘No one makes money from doing Art,’ or ‘Artists are poor…You need to get an education in something that will make you money.’
So at the age of 18 I hung up my desire for art and decided to go to university to become a psychologist. After my first psychology class I realised I was way too messed up to help anyone else so I changed my degree to accounting. Heck, if my purpose in life was to make money, I mind as well learn how to account for it! I forced my way through double entry book keeping and went on to learn all the rules regarding the great field of accountancy. I didn’t like it at all, but as far as I knew no one liked their profession – it was just something you had to get on with so that you could progress through life.
In some strange way I think I was taught that your job is going suck so you mind as well get an education that provides for the highest paying job possible.
Even now I struggle with the concept of truly enjoying something AND getting paid for it! It seems like I have to be miserable while working and in return I get paid for my misery. How messed up is that?
Anyway, as my degree became more difficult I realised that accountancy wasn’t going to work. I just wasn’t interested in it enough to ‘get it’. After five years of University, I finally graduated with a degree in Business Management – it’s the degree you do if you don’t know what you want in life. It covers everything!
So Art was forced out of my life. Year after year, however, I always had this little feeling that I was missing my ability to create in an artistic manner. I often thought of taking an art class or getting a book about painting techniques, but something in my head said, ‘what kind of moron are you? Stop being so silly.’
Even three years ago a woman I work with challenged me to take an art class. She gave me 3 months to set something up and I held her accountable to sign up for a writing class. The 3 months came and went and I still avoided any movement towards art.
What the heck was going on in my head? Why was I so repelled by simply taking an art class? I knew that I loved doing art yet I felt as if I couldn’t go near it. I wonder if I was afraid I’d like art too much and want to make it my job…and therefore have to become poor. Nuts, isn’t it?
Lucky for me I’ve been on this incredible journey to find out how I can enjoy life more. A few weeks ago I was meeting a friend who introduced me to another friend and before I knew it, I agreed to go on an Art Journaling workshop (offered by the friend of a friend).
This past weekend I enjoyed a full day of playing Art. I had access to all sorts of paints, materials and techniques. I learned how to do some things with watercolour, acrylic, paper, stamps, chalks, crayons, paint spray, decals, and glue. The workshop was just like an art class in school – I was given a bit of instruction and then allowed to play. Yes – I played!!! And it wasn’t like playing with my daughter where I’m watching her play and enjoying her enjoy herself. This was my kind of play…I had a real sense of allowing the kid in me to come out and simply enjoy every second of my day.
Remembering how to play is an amazing experience!
At first I was very scared. I just didn’t want to make a mistake. I wanted to be perfect and be able to do something amazing. But I quickly pushed my fear away and just took action. I painted one colour and then another and I quickly realised two things. 1. In most cases if something didn’t look good to start off with I could keep doing something (add more or change it) and it would eventually start to look better and better. 2. If it looked really bad, I successfully learned what not to do on my next project.
The workshops was structured so perfectly. To start we were taught just to use two watercolours and blend them onto a small piece of card. We were then taught different techniques and played with several more pieces of small card. Over the course of the day we moved on to larger pieces of paper and eventually we did a variety of things on canvas.
Our teacher, Joy, explained that, ‘If you ask children to go write a story or paint a picture, they just do it, but as adults when asked the write a story or paint a picture they get filled with fear!’ It’s so true! Growing up for so many of us means following a path that gets narrower and narrower. The more we age, the more afraid we become. We get stuck in a rut that defines us.
The workshop was such a great event for me. I felt what it was like to not only be a kid again, but to express myself in a different way. Rather than use words and heavy logic I simply sat there remembering how to play.
I didn’t realise that play has been completely absent in my life.
I thought I was playing when I went out for a drink with my friends or when I went for a run. I thought adult play was about doing something other than work with your free time.
No, no, no! I now realise that play is the ability to do something that you completely and utterly enjoy. I didn’t know what was missing until I did it. And now I know that doing some sort of art is something that makes me feel great. No – I don’t have to become an artist nor do I have this need to totally change my life and figure out how to make money through art. I can simply go to more workshops, buy a paint by numbers or start doodling on the back of my yellow pad.
In addition to remembering how to play, the group that joined the workshop were all wonderful people. The discussions were light and fun. There was nothing too serious – some of us were quiet and really became absorbed by what we were doing and others were able to create and talk. Most of us seemed to ebb and flow with the day – a bit of art and a bit of chatting. The workshop and the entire day was perfect.
If you’re in the Midlands or South and you’re looking for a way to play again, I highly recommend that you get in touch with Lisa Cherry as she runs both an art and and a writing workshop. Check out Lisa’s next workshops here: http://www.lisacherry.co.uk/events/
So..do you ever play? Or perhaps you need to add ‘remembering how to play’ on your list of things to do?