Second Time’s the Charm

As for my second session of painting, it was much like the first. I began in very high spirits, with an idea in mind. I had saved this video a few months ago of this person doing a tutorial of how to paint flowers. I was in awe of how easy the process looked and how detailed and realistic the flowers looked. I was so sure that I could paint flowers just like the ones in the video. It was actually this video that inspired me to get my paints and also do to this project in the first place. Well, long story short when it actually came time to paint these anticipated flowers, I could not find the video. I think I searched for an hour until I finally settled on a video that was sort of the same idea. Needless to say, the video made it look about a million times easier than it actually was it get your flowers to look as detailed and realistic as the video looked. Lets just say, the video was not the problem here.

After attempting to do the same brush strokes and flowers as those in the video and mine looking quite literally nothing like the ones in the video, I turned off the video and just went my own way. I would say the only similarly between my flowers and the flowers in the video was maybe the colours, but barely. I decided to just fill the entire page with different coloured flowers. I practiced mixing colours and mixing in white to give the flowers different effects. By the time the entire page was covered in my attempt at flowers, I had created a whole garden of my own. I told myself that the reason that the flowers weren’t detailed and didn’t look real was because it was like you were looking at the garden from an airplane. All you could see was the general colours and shapes all sort of blending together into one pretty image.

It’s something alright.

After finishing this piece, I realized that I had used very similar colours as I had used last time. I decided that next time I am really going to try to change it up and bring in some greens, oranges, browns, etc. – more earthy tones as these are much more my vibe anyways. This session was another great learning experience for me. I was honestly feeling really frustrated when my flowers looked nothing like the ones in the video. The video made it seem so, so easy and I just couldn’t understand why I was so incapable. But as I let go of my expectations and just created, I was able to really enjoy the moment that I was in and the experience. I have really been finding that practicing art in this way has helped me be more “in the moment” and present in what I am doing. It challenges my body and my mind. Though I experience frustration regarding my abilities and expectations, I am still finding a lot of serenity and peace in sitting in my closet, listening to my records, and just creating. It can only go up from here!

The blend.

Time to Begin

Luckily, I already had all of the supplies that I needed for my project in my own personal collection. I gathered my paints, paper, brushes, and palettes. I was so excited to finally break out my new supplies and start this project.

All of my supplies.

Once I got all of my supplies out and ready, I was faced with a blank canvas staring back at me and realized I had no idea where to start. I felt a little nervous anticipating where this project was going to go.

The blank canvas.

I decided that for my first session of this painting project I should just go for it. No preparing, no planning, no end goal in mind. I simply pulled a few colours from my box that I thought might look good together and decided to just begin.

My paints.
My first choices.

I decided that a good way to time myself was to listen to a record. I decided that I was going to paint for one side of the record, and when that side was finished, if I wanted to continue painting then I would listen to the other side as well.

My record of choice.

I put on one of my favourite mellow records from Mayday Parade – and so I began. I simply just painted. I played around with the paints to get comfortable with the textures and colours. I tried to keep in mind that I was doing this solely for the enjoyment of doing it and for no other purpose. I tried to give myself the freedom to just paint without worrying about what it looked like. I tried different brushes and amounts of paint and water. I found that the paints dried really quickly so I did not have a lot of time to think. I kind of liked this idea of not having time to think about what I was doing, and thus, I was able to just be entirely engrossed in the art. I discovered something that I will definitely take with me moving forward. That is, stop while you are ahead. I went through a rollercoaster of “wow this looks great” to “what have I done” over and over. For this first session I was just playing around so I didn’t mind. My end product was not something to be desired, but that was the whole point. I was able to get comfortable painting for the joy of painting.

The product.

As session one came to an end, I noticed that the palette that I simply used to hold the paints, was an artwork all in itself. I loved the look of the used palette. I also tried to wash the paint off of it and found that it was not budging. I decided to embrace it and just continuing putting paints on top as I go to see what I can create over the course of this project.

As for my final thoughts, or rather reflection on the impact that this experience had on my holistic wellbeing. Doing this got me up out of bed, off of technology, and allowed me to escape into my own world for a little bit. I was able to listen to music and create – through this I felt fully engrossed in the arts. While painting I was able to forget about everything else going on in my life and only think about what was right in front of me – that is, my art supplies. After, I felt a sense of peace and calmness moving forward into my evening. I felt successful and I was looking forward to the next time that I would paint.

Overall, my first experience painting was very enjoyable. I am looking forward to seeing what else I can create throughout this process.

The aftermath.

Arts Infused Project Proposal

Project Focus: I will be engaging in painting various forms of nature (flowers, landscapes, etc.) throughout each week for the course of this semester and hopefully beyond. I intend to use this form of art therapy to benefit my holistic wellbeing (mental, spiritual, physical, and social).

Inquiry Question: Does “Art Therapy” positively impact ones holistic wellbeing?

Time Line: I will aim to engage in art therapy through painting for 30 minutes to 1 hour at least two times per week for about eight weeks from February 1st to April 5th. I plan on painting on Wednesdays and Sundays but this may change to fit into my busy schedule each week. I imagine that once I experience the anticipated benefits of art therapy, I may want to practice more than 2 times per week or for a longer duration, so this is just a minimum goal for now.

Potential Challenges:

1. Time/prioritizing issues Рwhen I am very busy with full time classes, work, other hobbies, and my pre-internship in March I imagine that I will struggle with setting aside time for painting. I will move through this challenge by recognizing how sitting down and engaging in art therapy amid by busy life is beneficial to my holistic wellbeing, especially mental health. I know that doing this will help me manage my emotions and balance my stress so I will plan out my weeks and days in my planner and ensure to schedule specific time to dedicate to this project. 

2. Feeling incompetent/incapable – I have never practiced painting outside of a few times in art class in school and its been a long time since then. What got me back into wanting to take up painting was seeing so many amazing videos on the internet of people painting nature so beautifully and me finding myself wanting to do the same. Specifically on TikTok, I have come across many “How to” videos of people painting flowers and such that look really easy to replicate. I imagine that once I am actually doing it, especially in the beginning, my artwork is not going to look anything like the works of those professionals or how I want it to look. To overcome this I will focus on the process rather than the product, find joy in small wins, be aware of my progress over the eight weeks, and be sure to reflect on my emotions and feelings before, during, and after painting and how art therapy is benefitting me, regardless of what my artwork actually looks like in the end. 

3. Overwhelming amount of resources – with access to the internet and the plethora of information constantly being thrown at us online, I often find myself wanting to do everything but not having the time, energy, plan, means, etc. of actually doing it. I know that when I go online looking for inspiration, tutorials, examples, etc. I am going to easily find more than enough ideas. Rather than really scheduling it out and attempting to create a strict “progressive” type of plan from easier beginner works to more advanced, as I normally would do to approach something like this, I am going to just do what feels right. Each time I sit down to paint, I will do the research right then and decide what I feel like painting that day. If I discover a certain technique I want to practice or I find myself wanting to try something I did again, then I will do that. I am not going to make a strict plan of what to paint or what order to do it in, and I am not going to stress myself out with way too many ideas to do. I am simply going to take this as it comes and really focus on enjoying the actual experience of painting nature, rather than worrying about what to do, how to do it, trying to progress in some way, etc. 

4. Lack of motivation – a combination of the challenges mentioned above often influence many of the artistic hobbies that I try to pick up (ex. guitar, embroidery, quilting, drawing, piano, etc.). I often put too much pressure on myself from the very beginning, which results in me feeling unnecessarily overwhelmed and thus just quitting. As I have begun prioritizing my time a lot differently, and like Elizabeth Gilbert mentioned in “Big Magic”, “finding the value in my own joy”, I have been getting better at doing things that I enjoy simply because they bring me joy. To overcome this general lack of motivation that I often experience I am going to (as mentioned above) not put so much stress on myself worrying about getting as much information as possible, trying to be perfect off the bat, pressuring myself to commit to strict plans, etc. and instead just be, or rather, just do. When it comes to artistic hobbies, such as the art therapy I am trying to engage in here, we often focus on the wrong things and burn ourselves out before we even begin. So for this project, I am simply going to sit down and paint. I might draw inspiration from another artist or I might just do what feels right at the time. I am going to be fully present when doing this task and just let my own creativity run wild.

My Support:

My support pal will be my mom. With absolutely everything in my life my mom is always there for me to support me through good and bad, tell me what I sometimes don’t want to hear, encourage me, and listen when I need it. She keeps me on track and always makes sure that I am doing my best and what I need to be doing. This project will be no different, and I know that she is the best person in my life to get me through and have the best opportunity for success!