There’s the saying that art imitates life based on the observation that a creative work was inspired by true events. However, I want to put out the idea that the very act of creating art reflects good practices for everyday living. Here are a few things I’ve learned from painting that also carry over into my personal practices.
Do not open your tube of water color paint over the piece you are working on. Little pieces will fleck off onto your paper, dissolving and blending onto your wet paper. Have you ever heard of that saying “Don’t poop in your own nest?” To me it means that we should try not to do “the dirty” to those around us.
We need to mindful of our relationships, in particular our actions and reactions to situations and maintain a respectful approach to others. So be thoughtful when you open your mouth, it could have disastrous results. And don’t hold hot coffee over your lap either.
Do not squeeze the clog out of your paint tube while pointing the tube up into the air, otherwise you may end up with a 5-foot long streak of thick paint from one end of your kitchen to the other.
Again, mindfulness. Sometimes it’s easy to be so focused on what is in our hands that we don’t see the arc of our actions. Everything has a consequence; try to avoid a bad one.
Start with lightness, light strokes and light colors. If you begin with too much heaviness and darkness, it’s hard to create space for movement and light.
This goes for our relationship with others. Unless you’re a drill sergeant, a heavy-handed approach turns others away and doesn’t encourage cooperation and engagement. Start light in dealing with others; leave openness and see what evolves.
Think simple. If you’re painting the landscape in front of you, do not put everything into your painting! Use the landscape as a reference, to provide you with the information you need to paint the elements, but don’t slavishly follow it.
Don’t let yourself get bogged down with minutia. It’s tiring and unproductive. It can also be an avoidance mechanism. Use the Occam’s razor principle known as the law of parsimony. It’s the problem-solving principle that essentially states that “simpler solutions are more likely to be correct than complex ones.” Or kiss, keep it simple sweetie.
Steal like an artist. You don’t need to be a genius, you just need to be yourself. No artist’s work is ever completely original, and trying to be completely original is daunting and inevitably smothering. Embrace the inevitability of influence, celebrate living outside of a vacuum, relax, and have fun.
Find good role models, surround yourself with people you want to be like, learn from others. Remember, art is either plagiarism or revolution. Both work at different times.
We can learn about our inner workings as we observe how we carry out various tasks as it is a reflection of how we deal with the world. Engage in personal observation in a humorous and kind manner. You can be your own best teacher.
(Jo’l Moore is the president of the Belen Art League Gallery and Gifts. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 861-0217.)