Wednesday, June 30, 2010


Photo: Me-Plein Air Painting
Most of my students lament at some point that they only do their art in class. Because there is always something more important that needs their attention. I still find that I have more to do than is humanly possible and that I need to do it all or a lot of it before I "play" (that is make art). I would not call myself a high energy person, but I would say for the most part if I am upright I am in perpetual motion.

There is always something that needs to be done. I feel guilty watching TV (even though I do it practically every night ) or reading a book or taking a nap. Relaxation you see, is reserved for when all the work is done. But the work is never done! So you either never relax (or create) or you feel guilty? The only out you have is a vacation-where that's what you are supposed to do-relax. (Unless of course, you married to someone who thinks relaxing is doing!) And we use that idea that work is more important as a reason to feel that creating is not.

Two students have said to me recently - and what am I going to do with all these paintings?? It seems that we think it's only valuable if it the art will then do something! I understand having a pile of things that are dear to your heart, but are just sitting around collecting dust. Why add to that? But do we use that as yet another reason to not create, so we don't add to the pile?

Reasons like these abound. For some reason, maybe because we enjoy it (which is another subject), we feel it cannot be as important as getting something done. But why can't getting a painting done be as valuable as getting the laundry done? Why is your job more important to you than your creativity? Aside from the fact you have to eat? I believe we place value on things according to what people will pay for them. My day job is more important because I have to eat! While that is true, does that really mean your music, writing, cooking, painting is less valuable?

Love, happiness,a child's laughter, a rainbow, a purring kitten, a breeze, your health. All these are things that have no monetary value placed on them, and yet they are what makes life worth the living. Ask yourself, are these things that bring such joy "doing" something?

So, if you only have time to create in a class, take one. And keep taking them! If your worried about paintings piling up, shift your thinking. Make it about the process and getting better and not about the piling up factor. Give them away, sell them on or give them to a charity. Free art will always uplift someone who hasn't the funds for real art. And you can recycle. Paint over not so good paintings. Recylcle watercolor paper.

But most of all, challenge your ideas about how your time is spent and what is valuable. How dull would be a world without the arts? I say soak them up, like a sponge. Make it more valuable in your own life and perhaps others will shift their thinking as well.

Not everything has to do something. It can just be.


  1. I find that I plan and schedule time to do nothing or anything. I set aside time to read. If I don't, I won't allow myself to do it. I know that it has value to me. Reading takes me to a different place, expands my imagination, relaxes me and sometimes makes me more intelligent and interesting. Sometimes if just gives me a break. Any way you look at it, doing something that brings you enjoyment should be a part of your life.

  2. Wow! Deep. I relate. My creativity is in words, but I am so often caught in the trap of thinking that it needs to make money to be valuable. I teach my students otherwise, but still . . . At least my "stuff" only takes up space on a computer. You gave me a lot to think about. Thank you!