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Painting for Happiness

My most recent painting that I love

I feel like I have only peripherally written in these letters about painting, even though it is my newest and strongest love. It has kept me from planting even one thing in my flower bed, now overrun with onions, dandelions and who knows what else? I say who knows because I haven’t taken five minutes to really look. Painting could possibly be blamed for my now sketchy exercise routine, the state of my house and yard, recent late bill payments, failure to get my van ready to sell, and even the sorry state of my studio.

Painting, looking at others’ paintings, listening to podcasts about painting, thinking about painting, taking free online painting workshops, and watching videos about painting have increasingly taken over my life. And it makes me happy!

I’m not sure, though, why I’ve been hesitant to talk much or write about it. Well, there are those judgements we all make against ourselves, especially with creative endeavors. I’m only learning. I’m not that good. I’m not there yet. But why would I have to be great at it to tell that this is my newest passion? I feel an awkwardness when people ask, “What have you been up to lately?” My honest answer would be “painting,” but I often feel shy about saying so. I think maybe it seems a bit self-important or arrogant to tell it. But why? When I started playing pickleball, I’d tell anyone who would listen how much I loved it. But somehow to say that I’m painting feels awkward, feels like people wouldn’t understand, feels like I’m saying I’m Picasso.

Couldn’t I allow myself the grace to tell about something I’m doing that I love? It would seem so. If one paints, couldn’t one be called a painter, whether or not one is accomplished at it?

Here I am at the end of last summer’s course, among all the work I did.

I don’t believe I’m alone in feeling shy or insecure about painting, though. In the Find Your Joy online painting course I took in the summer of 2021 and in the online artists’ community I belong to, fear is a big topic. Not so much fear of telling but of failing, looking ridiculous, fear of never creating something beautiful or meaningful. Art somehow brings up a whole set of insecurities in humans. Many of us create because we want to be seen or heard (loved). For all of us, what we create is a part of us. To put your creation out into the world is scary. What if no one loves it (me)? Yikes!

But art should be freeing! It should make your spirit soar. And in the past few weeks, I have found that with painting. Not only do I love it while I’m doing it, but I’m loving what comes of it and I’m feeling more and more eager to show and to tell. So here you are. I’m telling. And if you happened to come to my house, I’d pull you into my studio to show. This is my newest, biggest thing. Painting is a joyful pursuit. I love painting. I am a painter. That last is pretty scary to say but I figure I’ll just keep saying it. I am a painter. I am a painter. You could be a painter.

“Creativity takes courage. ” ― Henri Matisse

“To be creative means to be in love with life. You can be creative only if you love life enough that you want to enhance its beauty, you want to bring a little more music to it, a little more poetry to it, a little more dance to it.” ― Osho

“If you hear a voice within you say you cannot paint, then by all means paint and that voice will be silenced.” ― Vincent Willem van Gogh

If you’re looking for my cards or art, you’ll find all of that on my website. And if you enjoy these letters, feel free to forward this one to anyone you think might like it. And if someone forwarded this one to you, you can sign up here to receive the letters right in your Inbox. Finally, you’ll find past letters and poems here.

Thanks for listening,

P.S. MerryThoughts is the name of my first book, out of print at the moment. The word is a British one, referring both to a wishbone and to the ritual of breaking the wishbone with the intention of either having a wish granted or being the one who marries first, thus the “merry thoughts.”

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