WHY JOY (IN PAINTING) IS SO IMPORTANT

Over the years, besides teaching about painting I try to make the students aware of everything that is involved in the process of painting, how ones ability to become one with the moment has a strong influence on the success. One particular thing though, always seem to a main obstacle: the struggle to reach a certain aim. And in most cases times I tell my students how important it is to have fun in what they’re doing. I thought I could elaborate on this a bit.

Often, and this doesn’t only occurs with those who start painting, during a painting process you can find yourself coming to a point where you feel that you are stuck. This can have several different causes. For example not understanding certain technique, blocked by trying to much to understand what it is that you are painting, being convinced that you just can’t do it or any other circumstrances that implies that things are not going the way you want it. It is true, and I would be the last one to say it’s not, that getting a decent sense of technique, knowledge on material and to know at least the basics on what paint and medium does while working with it, is inevitable for learning the art of painting. With everything you wish to achieve there comes a time you will have to be on the learning side of the table to fill yourself with any given and available knowledge on what it is that you want to achive. And overcoming that feeling of being stuck or being blocked is, just as learning a specific technique, a attribute that can be mastered.

Painting should be a joy. The whole process should fill you with happiness, joy! Isn’t that a strong statement that implies that without it…well, you might as well give up. No. it is quite the opposite. But, to be clear, it is not the hilarious and excited kind of joy. More a inner happiness and sense of peace.
How many times did you experienced this feeling that you completely lost track of time, forgot where you are or who you are and was absorbed by the process of painting? And how many times did you experience that you where blocked? Couldn’t get what you wanted, seemingly having totally lost that long desired and appreciated ‘touch’. How many times did you experience that anger, that uncontrolable feeling of throwing that painting across the room? Both are magical moments which, with a paradoxale twist, are entwined together.
But how do you get yourself (back) in that zone of enjoying the whole process? How do you get yourself from outraged to serene calm and enjoying the process?

Well, if you’re indeed as angry that even the fires of hell don’t seem to upset you anymore, I think you indeed better take some distance from your process and have a good cup of relaxing tea. The idea is to not let yourself enter a state of frenzy. How? By cultivating one important espacts in the painting process: JOY. How do we do this? For one thing by focussing on the process only. Not on what it has to become. Not on how detailed it has to be and not on how many more layers, time and effort it needs before it’s perfect. No. Stop bothering yourself. You will get there anyway. Don’t rush yourself by focussing on the irrelevant stuff. Focus on what gives the most pleasure, the most joy: In this case Painting!! And I’m sure that this isn’t so hard for you. Because you choose to paint, to learn about painting, techniques and stuff, because it gives you so much joy.

It is the same with all the other stuff in life. I know, that when you are learning it might feel that this natural state of being in the flow and enjoying the fact that you don’t have to think about what the best approach is for this particular subject you want to paint, is hard to reach. But it isn’t. It isn’t your knowledge that will give you joy. It isn’t the experience that will give you joy. It is your own mindset that makes you choose. So choose to focus only on the process of painting. And this doesn’t mean that you don’t have to study hard to gain the appropiate know how, this means that this process includes the studies you make to learn, to make something your own or to understand matter. All those things should be done with the joy of the process. It is the same with drawing an object. Once you try to interpretate the object as something you can understand logically you will start to make weird mistakes. You disconnect yourself from the object by trying to understand what it is. But once you let this interpretation go and just look, you will amaze yourself by drawing exactly what you see.

So go out there and have fun! Enjoy whatever it is you’re doing! Really…!!! Do it!!

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