It started as sort of a fluke. Soon after I moved to Tampa I bought a Groupon deal for a class at Sketch and Sip. I didn’t know many people yet, and I wanted to try to make new friends. I’m not really sure why I specifically wanted to paint, but it appealed to me so I bought it.
I was really nervous about going to this class. I was afraid my painting would look like a child’s scribbles. Despite my nervousness, the class was a really cool experience. I remember that I didn’t have fun in the normal sense of the word. At first I didn’t want to make the wrong strong. I tried very hard to make mine painting look like the original, and I tried to follow the instructions exactly. After a little while it was pretty obvious that my replication was going to look different. Once I had that realization, the class became a good lesson in letting go of control, and I started to relax a bit. My painting did end up looking very different from the original that we were copying, but so did everyone else’s in the room. Not only that, but even will all of the students following the same instructions, everyone’s painting looked different. But they didn’t look bad. I ended up being really proud of my painting, though I had to convince myself a bit. I had it hanging over my bed until I moved recently. (The title of the piece is “Sets the Mood.” I figured it couldn’t hurt.)Because of Sketch and Sip, I realized that I needed to change how I thought of myself. I initially thought, “I can’t paint. I’m not an artist.” But I did paint. I painted something that I was proud of, and I even received compliments about my painting! 😀
I attended another Sketch and Sip class later that same year. It was during that class that I thought, “I can do this… I can do this on my own!”
Within a year after I created my “Make a Wish” painting in the Sketch and Sip class, I bought an inexpensive painting set. My first truly original painting was “Cycles of Life.” (A bit more about the meaning behind it here.) Creating abstract art is a little less intimidating, because it doesn’t have to look like anything!
I’ve since painted a number of paintings (but no paint-by-numbers 😉 ). They’ve tended to be abstract and inspired by poems I’ve written or songs that I love.
My most recent painting is titled “No More Mending Walls,” inspired by Joe Crookston’s song “Mending Walls.” In the song, Joe sings about building walls to protect himself. He goes on to recognize that we must let our walls fall to truly love.
I feel like the painting could be interpreted two ways. One interpretation could be that the heart has blasted through the wall, releasing the infinity of love to the world. The other is someone looking from the outside through a wall that is already falling, and seeing the infinity of love contained within the heart. Or perhaps they are both one in the same. Leave a comment if it means something different to you!
The idea of letting our walls fall is one that has resonated with me since I first heard Joe sing that song in January 2013. I think that his lyrics are spot on, yet it’s so hard to let our walls fall in a world where we’ve been hurt and we have no guarantees we won’t be hurt again.
I’m so grateful I took that risk a few years ago. What should have been a one-time fling with painting turned into something that has become really important to me. It’s one of the things I do to take care of myself when I need to slow down. It’s a hobby that allows me to honor something I care about or explore an idea in a different way than writing about it does. And it’s something that challenges me (e.g. my patience, my desire for too much control, my skill). Writing challenges me too, but it comes a bit easier…
I highly encourage everyone to try those new things that scare you. Buy that Groupon to rock climb! Take that drawing lesson! Go to that Ethiopian restaurant that you’ve been wondering about! You never know which thing will become important, and it might be something that helps you live daringly.