Permission to Play
Hello, friends. I hope everyone has been having an excellent summer full of adventure, warmth, relaxation, and good vibes. This summer I have given myself the biggest gift I could have given myself...something I was desperately needing: the permission to play.
When you are creating something (be it food, music, a story, an idea, a piece of artwork, ect) you are putting a piece of yourself out into the world. And as that process unfolds, there are so many elements that come into the mix that are seperate from the creation itself. For example: How can I use this thing I've created to connect with others? And: How will others respond to this? And even: How can I ensure that this thing I've created positively impacts those around me?
Something that I've learned about myself is that that this process to reaching out, sharing, and being aware of the reactions of those around me can detract from the rawness and authenticity of my artwork. Not that those things aren't important- they just belong in their own category seperate from the process of creating. And it makes sense, right? If I let these thoughts play in my head before I've finished a piece (or, even worse, before I've started a piece) I'm taking a lot of "me" out of the equation. And the artwork itself becomes repetitive, monotonous, and much less satisfying.
My favorite part of the definition of "play" is the second part: to take part in. To me, this means fully emerging yourself in what you are doing. Diving in and rolling around in the raw process of creation. Eliminating everything else from the equation so that it's just you, your tools, and wild abandon.
Here are some ways I've incorporated "play" into my daily routine this summer:
For me, this involved painting on new surfaces! I was wandering around Lowe's and ran across some sheets of metal. I was drawn to this new, reflective, and foreign surface. Instead of going in with a plan, I had fun with the sheets of metal and let them speak to me!
Instead of scrolling Pinterest for visual inspiration while working, I decided to shift to audio inspiration: podcasts. I've found that I can stay in the zone and create raw artwork while letting these awesome discussions and creative words guide me. Here are some of my absolute favorites:
This midset truly took the pressure off creating a "final piece" or artwork that looked like it belonged in a series! I really needed this mindset in order to create for the sake of creating (rather than an upcoming gallery exhibition) and keeping relaxed. To help embrace this philosophy, I made sure to create mini-pieces of artwork in sketchbooks and spiral-bound watercolor pads.
I've always loved how artists advertise their workshops as "art retreats." It sounds like a field trip, expedition, and little adventure. So I've gotten in the habit of packing up my art supplies at least once a week and going on my own personal "art retreats." I have a few secret places that I return to mutlitple times, but I'm constantly looking for new places. For me, this is just a method of swtichign these up and keeping things fresh. As much as I love my art studio, it can start to feel stale if I stay in there too long!
And, really, you can make anyplace magical. It's up to you to wear your creative lens and accept it as a special place.
When I am interested in learning a new art technique, YouTube is one of my first sources. I'm the type of person wh prefers watching demonstration to reading the steps. At some point, I realized that I've always filled the role of the viewer, but never the role of the demonstrator. So I challenged myself to fill this role and try on this new hat. Did making my own video feel weird at first? Totally. Am I glad I gave it a try? Yes. Will I do this again in the future? Maybe!
The important thing is: now I know that I can!
Sometimes the things that scare you aren't scary at all- in fact, you've kept them at such distance for most of your life that they've blurred into these abstract things. Behind their disguises, "scary things" can actually be great sources of unexplored fun. For me, facing my fears meant diving into portraiture. I have always been self-conscious about my ability to draw people and faces, so I challenged myself to draw a new person/face everyday and try to have fun with it. I read some wonderful portraiture books, set a timer, and started drawing!
I believe that the universe is laced countless communities and that whether or not we realize it, we are inherently part of multiple circles. I have started forming a tribe with women I have never met face to face, only through online art communities and workshops. We have begun exchanging art packages in the mail and brainstorming ways to create a chain of artists who exchange hand-made gifts and heart-felt creations. Simply brainstorming with others and bouncing off ideas is SO much fun and only reinforces my theory that one of the main reasons we have been put here on this earth is to connect with one another. It's important to remember that we are never alone.
Enough of this. Go out and play!