I’ve recently taken up oil painting. The decision to paint just appeared from nowhere, although I certainly have expressed myself through arts and crafts of some sort throughout my life. I mentioned my desire to paint to my husband Andy and he surprised me on my birthday with a beautiful and functional easel that he built. I haven’t played with oil painting since I was a little girl. I dabbled a few times with my dad in his art studio and at my best friend Peri’s grandfather Presto’s studio. I also remember painting landscapes and especially trees with my great Uncle Jack who painted landscape primitives.
My dad was a very talented and successful artist in a number of mediums. Perhaps my favorites are his large and colorful abstract oil paintings (though some of them were painted with acrylics). He passed two and a half years ago and I am pretty certain that I my urge to paint wouldn’t have been revealed while he was alive.
Every day after the easel arrived in my life but before I actually put brush to canvas, fear had been gripping me. Fear that I can’t do this; fear that there is a right way and a wrong way to do this; fear of the unknown. When I finally started painting, much, though not all, of the fear dissipated. As I began to mix the colors and play with the brush stroke techniques, I felt a release of tension replaced by a great freedom to let creativity flow from my hand. My first piece is abstract. I didn’t have a single thought or plan in my head as I allowed the painting to completely unfold from nothing. I needed to let go of any restraints in order to move through the uneasy feeling of starting something when I have no training. I even found the experience pure fun.
And so I am coloring outside of the lines. I am not taking a class that prescribes what to do. I am not setting up goals and timing for outcomes. I am not establishing rules for how or what I create. Coloring outside of the lines means that I am not holding tightly on the reins as I paint. I am allowing creativity to explore the canvas through me and my brush. I am letting the ideas flow even if they aren’t in line with anyone’s thoughts on what makes a good painting. And coloring outside the lines also means that I am letting go of whatever expectations I have built up in my mind that my dad would have if he were alive. I suspect a big part of my sudden rushing need to paint is knowing that he can’t judge my paintings—even though I am sure he would try to be kind and loving in his reviews. I am letting go of the desire to fit in. I am welcoming whatever arrives. It’s a great way to approach everything.