All Good Things Come to an End

This is my final post for my inquiry project for EAE 201. I cannot believe that another semester has come to an end and thus, my painting project also must come to an end. Well, a temporary end – I will definitely be incorporating painting into my life moving forward because of the holistic benefits that I have experienced through this process. Right now, it is time to reflect upon the experience as a whole, up to now.

Looking back now I am kind of surprised by how little I actually struggled with some of the challenges that I mentioned might potentially impact my experience. As far as feeling incompetent and incapable, and the overwhelming amount of resources that I would find, these really did not impact me at all. I basically just did a quick scroll on Pinterest right before I began painting each time and chose something that interested me. As opposed to trying to look at all of the different resources out there and saving every single thing that I might do and then having no idea where to start – which would have surely overwhelmed me. Similarly, with feeling incompetent or incapable, I actually found that as I was creating, I was actually surprised with my abilities. They say you never know what you are good at or capable of until you try it and this is so true. I counted myself out of being able to paint before I ever even tried. This gave me a new sense of confidence in my abilities and pride in myself. It was the anticipated challenges of time commitment, prioritizing issues, and motivation that became most evident throughout this experience.

Upon beginning this project I was very optimistic about the time that I was going to be able to dedicate to this. In the midst of school, work, other responsibilities, personal struggles, etc. at times during this project I really struggled with finding the time to paint. Looking back now I think that it was less about not having the actual physical time, and more about having the mental capacity to actually use the time that I had for creating art. In busy and stressful times, it was very difficult for me to shut it all off and sit down and create. There seemed to always be something else that I should be doing – readings, assignments, prep for school/work, cleaning my house, cooking, errands, etc. there was always something that I thought I needed to do more than painting. But when I actually set aside the time and let myself create art without the weight of my other roles and responsibilities on my shoulders, the results were truly freeing.

The holistic benefits to my wellbeing when I let myself create art freely have been truly life changing. Physically, I was able to remove myself from all of the other distractions of my life and create my own little sanctuary – a cozy, quiet, space where I could spend time with myself. This forced me to get of off my phone and other screens for a while, and also avoid other habits that might be less beneficial to my wellbeing such as social media, bad eating, negative thoughts, etc. Mentally and emotionally, I was able to turn my brain off and focus only on creating. This forced me to be fully present in the moment, aware of myself, my surroundings, my thoughts, and my feelings, and at peace. I was able to reflect on my self, my interests, my abilities, my capabilities, etc. It gave me the opportunity to feel out where I was at in my life or just in that moment, and let it out through creating. Spiritually, this experience really took me out of the trivial physical and mental struggles of everyday life. It forced me to reflect internally about my life and what is really important to me. I was able to truly relax my mind and body and just be creative. This experience truly brought to light just how important the arts are to my wellbeing in this life.

It may sound dramatic but I think that the arts are just that – life changing. The holistic benefits to my wellbeing that come from creating in whatever form it may be, give me purpose and peace. It is a time to relax, reflect, and be fully present. It has been a challenging and rewarding experience of self reflection, personal growth, rest and relaxation, and uncovering of abilities for me. I am really looking forward to continuing to use painting as a form of my own “therapy” for myself and another way to incorporate art into my life.

Anybody can be an Artist

This was my final painting session of this inquiry project. I wanted to try something that would be a bit of a challenge. This was another one that was really different than anything I have tried before. As always, I found my inspiration on Pinterest. This had been something that I have been wanting to try but never felt like I had to the time or skills to do something as detailed as this. I decided to try out a new environment for this session so I moved everything downstairs to work on my kitchen island. It is a much more spacious and bright area that I felt would give me a fresh perspective. I ended up really enjoying painting in the big and bright kitchen as opposed to my little closet/office area. I think a change of environment is extremely important for inspiration.

Ready to begin.

This was another one colour and one brush painting but I did some experimenting with shading using water and I really think that it worked! I have been having fun trying out a lot of different styles and techniques throughout this process and this was definitely one of my favourites! I followed the basic design of my inspiration picture but began to have fun with the shading and blending to really make the piece my own.

Progress is a process.

I was honestly shocked at how this painting was actually turning out. With very little experience and skill in the painting department I often feel like I will never be able to create dimension within my paintings and make them look realistic. It was so fun to try something so detailed but only using one colour. My confidence was definitely growing as this painting was really coming together.

The final product.

I was honestly so happy with how this one turned out. Like I said I was actually kind of shocked with how good it ended up looking. This was such a fun painting to create. With classes coming to an end and summer on the horizon I can feel myself becoming less and less stressed. This really helped me focus on only creating during this session and it totally worked out for me. I thoroughly enjoyed the process of creating this painting and felt extremely pleased with myself once I was finished with it. It feels so good to feel impressed with something that I created. This painting gave me so much confidence in my painting and made me so excited to continue painting moving forward.

I love this one.
My palette is a work of art in itself.

Sunflowers for the Soul

As I mentioned in a previous post, I have struggled with my mental health a lot over the past couple months. When I sat down for this painting session I knew that I wanted to do something very bright and colourful and happy. I have genuinely seen huge improvements in my mental health when painting and intentionally setting aside time in my day to create. I have always been a very artistic person and loved creating in any way that I could – art, dance, poetry, photography, video editing, etc. Now that I have never been as intentional with giving myself time to create, as I have been over the course of this inquiry project, I wonder why I didn’t do this sooner. I will absolutely be continuing to paint upon completing this project as I have seen wonderful benefits to my wellbeing from creating in this way each week. As much as this project has been the kick start that I needed to come to this realization again, I think that creating on my own and not having any pressure of doing it for a grade will be even more freeing.

Anyways, back to this session. I was definitely not feeling my best today, and wanted to create something really happy. As usual, I did a quick Pinterest search to see if I could find anything that looked interesting. I found a beautiful painting of sunflowers that I thought was perfect. What is more happy than sunflowers? I also really liked that this painting had an intentional “messy” kind of look to it. I thought that this would reduce my need to take my time and be really precise – which I was not in the mood for today. I liked the idea of just kind of plopping some paint on the paper and seeing how it turned out – this was not an approach I have taken before. And as I am beginning to learn, I was so happy with the result! I absolutely loved how this one turned it. It is definitely in my top three favourites for sure.

That is a happy painting if I have ever saw one.

Trying Something Different

Today I wanted to try something that I have not done before. I decided to do something monochromatic using only black. I found an image on Pinterest of some simple black trees that I decided looked easy enough. The image that I found for inspiration looked like they used a fan brush. I was honestly shocked when I looked in my collection of brushes and wasn’t able to find a fan brush! I decided to use the little sponge like one that you can see in the photo above. I was actually surprised by how well it worked for the look that I was going for.

For this painting session, I really really tried to not limit myself by attempting perfection. I tried to just be sort of messy with it and just freely create. This approach definitely stuck with me for the rest of this project and I had some wonderful results from it. It has been to interesting to see the mental struggles that I have had with myself in the process of creating. I have never seen myself as a perfectionist but it has become so evident to me that with my strong desire to create art that looks beautiful, I feel the encompassing need to “not mess it up”. However, when I intentionally remove those chains of attempted perfection, I not only have a much more pleasant experience, but I also am always happy with the outcome (even if my painting is not “perfect”).

This was definitely not a painting that I finished and was like “WOW, I AM SUCH AN ARTIST”, but it was a session that I finished with a whole new perspective. I think that there are a lot of things in life where we limit ourselves by a desire for perfection, maybe without even realizing it. This is becoming clear to me throughout this project as I feel like I have to create something that is good enough to post about or it is a waste of my time because I can’t use it for my “final product” or documentation of this project. That right there is what I think that this project is all about. It is not about what I can create that looks beautiful enough to post about. It is about the process of creating and the feelings and emotions that arise in doing so. I never thought that I would have so many different thoughts and feelings come to the surface as I painted. I think that this has made my initial intention for this project became so much more evident. These sessions really are not just the physical painting of the pictures, it is the emotional, mental, and spiritual aspects as well. I wasn’t sure if painting would actually benefit my “holistic” wellbeing as much as I had hoped, but it’s impact is becoming so so clear to me. I believe that the main reason for this is that when painting it is the only time throughout my entire day that I intentionally remove myself from all of the distractions in my daily life and quiet my mind from all the thoughts and worries of the day and just let myself create – and it has been wonderful.

The sun shining in made me so so happy. I decided to paint in the morning as opposed to the evening and I really enjoyed it. It made the process feel less like a chore or something on my “to do” list and more like something that I was intentionally doing for myself and my wellbeing.

Busy, Busy, Busy

Wow, it has been way too long since I have posted about my learning project. Honestly, March was the busiest month I have had in a long time in doing my pre-internship, school, and work! Aside from being extremely busy, I was also dealing with some other things behind the scenes that prevented me from posting or even wanting to post. Throughout the very busy past month I found myself not painting because I dreaded having to post about it. It was as if this experience that was meant to bring peace and healing had become another added stressor. So to overcome this, I decided to just paint as much as I want and not worry about creating a long, detailed post about it.

Giving myself the freedom to just paint and not worry about taking pictures of the process and post about it brought the joy back into painting that I had found in the beginning. I have created many different (good and bad) paintings over the course of this past month, more for my own enjoyment as opposed to for making a post about it. I have decided that for the rest of my time doing this learning project, I hope to do at least one or two more detailed posts about the experience of creating a painting and then I will just post an art gallery type of thing with a photo all anything else that I have painted over the course of this project. Of course, at the end I will follow up with a reflection about the overall process as well.

Lastly, for an update about how painting has impacted me emotionally. I would say that I definitely feel the benefits of creating art through painting while I am doing it. It is often very difficult for me to just shut everything off (including my brain) and just pause the crazy state of my life for a moment to create. However, when I do, I never regret it. During the painting process I feel my mind at ease and my creativity able to run wild. I feel peace over my entire body as I sit quietly and focus on just one thing without thinking about anything else going on for a little while. After painting I feel refreshed and ready to do whatever is next on my agenda. The benefits of painting have definitely felt therapeutic to me and have given me a new appreciation for creating art amidst the craziness of life.

A Mid-Project Reflection

Sitting down to paint again after a little while was actually pretty difficult. I am absolutely in those mid-winter blues and also in the deep end as far as uni goes, and I seem to have forgotten how to swim. I have definitely let my busy schedule combined with lack of motivation get the best of me this week. However, spring is finally on the horizon – the days are getting longer, the weather is getting warmer and the snow is finally melting. This has given me a renewed sense of peace and also inspiration. I have really noticed the way that the weather impacts my mood and overall being this week and have felt a deeper connection to nature because of it. This led me to wanting to paint something that encompassed my connection to nature and the happy memories that I have because of it. I decided to paint a classic Saskatchewan field. I have many fond memories working at my parents farm in the summer. I would often just pause what I was doing out in the middle of the field just to take it all in. This painting is a lovely depiction of what I see and feel out in one of my favourite places. A wide open field, mid summer, not a cloud in the sky, the fresh breeze, not a person or car in sight – freedom.

A prairie summer day.

Moving forward, I have decided that I am putting less pressure on myself to stick to a schedule. Lately, I have focused so much on being worried about if I am painting enough or when I will fit painting into my busy schedule. In a sense, I have ruined this experience for myself in a lot of ways. This session forced me to remember why I am doing this in the first place. Yes, I am doing this project as a requirement for a class that I am taking. But more than that, I am doing this because I am trying to experience the holistic benefits to painting nature. Art is healing – it forces you to form a connection between your body and your mind. When I am actually in the moment, creating the art, I feel this connection deeply. I feel so creative and free – almost child-like in a way. I feel at peace, and like nothing else matters in that moment. I feel like everything else going on in my life can wait and I can, if just for a moment, be fully present in the art and the expression of the experience. All the other noise in my life has been tainting this a little lately. Moving forward I will keep this in mind and continue to learn from this experience.

Beautiful Butterfly

This was by far my most successful session. I was actually shocked by how well my painting turned out. This was the first time that I used an image as inspiration. I scrolled through my camera roll on my phone and found a beautiful painting of a butterfly that I had saved. I absolutely loved the simplicity of it and the colour scheme as well. It was really detailed but also a little abstract, and over all just looked like something that I would be able to somewhat follow. I pulled out some colours that looked similar to the inspiration image and so I began. I started by painting my entire page a bit of a more peach type of shade as opposed to leaving it just white and began the black outline. I was really nervous to begin because I did not want to mess it up, but as I got going I become less worried about making it perfect and just went with what felt right.

The colour palette.
The beginning.

The process of creating this piece was unlike anything I had done previously. As I continued experimenting with different colours, shades, brushes, and techniques, I truly lost myself in the art. I was so fully involved and present, I was amazed as it all came together. The best part was the way that time flew by and before I even checked the clock, two hours had passed. Other times when I would sit down and paint I was much more aware of what I was doing (or trying to do) and how much time I had “left” to go. As my painting came together, I was so pleased (and a little shocked) with the results. I was entirely immersed in the process that by the end, when I was looking at the final product, I was pleasantly surprised with the way that it turned out.

The final product.
A close up.

Reflecting on the whole process of painting this butterfly, I would definitely like to try this one again later on. I am so, so happy with the way that it turned out, and like I said, actually a little shocked by how much it actually looks like a butterfly. One thing that I definitely noticed throughout the whole experience was that as I was closely using another photo for inspiration, I was very careful and precise with every single stroke that I made. I think that a painting such as this one would benefit from giving myself a little more freedom with it. If I were to do this painting again I would definitely just be a little more careless with it and more confident in my strokes, if you will. Overall, I really did feel at peace through this whole experience and thoroughly enjoyed myself for multiple hours. The satisfaction that I felt when I was able to appreciate the lovely painting that I was able to create was really rewarding. Butterfly’s are one of my favourite symbols of transformation, change, hope, and life. Through creating such a beautiful piece, I was really able to connect with this concept and nature in general. The overall joy, satisfaction, and connection that came with this session makes me so hopeful for the next time that I sit down and paint again.

The end.

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.