I took a painting class one evening, one of those wine and paint nights. I’m not much of a painter, and I’ve never been very creative. Or at least, what I thought being creative meant.
Anyway, this wine and paint night wasn’t like most wine and paint classes in that there was no paint by numbers set up. The instructor, who is a talented African artist, told us to take a canvas and paint whatever the fuck we wanted. I don’t think he said fuck, but I added it in for emphasis.
And that was all the direction we got. An hour or so later, when I took my painting up to the front to let it dry, and placed it next to the other beautiful creations, I felt the way I often do when I compare myself with others: less than. I felt down on myself. That feeling you get when you think that you’re a special snowflake who is destined for greatness, and then reality swats you back down to size. Bursts your bubble and lets you know in no uncertain terms: No, you are, indeed, not. You will not be Picasso or any of the greats, you are not a 20-something-year-old who has had some hidden talent that was waiting to be unlocked on a blistery cold January evening sitting in one of the common spaces of yet another co-working space in New York City. This is not a romantic novel, this is real life, and you’re at a wine and paint night – get a grip.
But, of course, this artist has to be inspiring. He has to tell everybody that their painting is great and he loves it. And I believe him. He tells me the painting doesn’t have to be finished either. You can always paint over it. That gave me comfort. As in life, I could always paint over it – the story doesn’t end, we just keep moving forward.
The next day, on my way home I was struck with a need to go buy paint supplies. It felt good, exciting. I was going to continue painting over it and make something else. I was going to make it better! I was going to fix it!
I got everything ready, but decided to meditate before I began – you know, to clear my mind and hopefully a beautiful, perfect image would appear in a vision (and THAT would be the discovery of my hidden genius). Instead, what came up was the idea that I could paint each day. And I could catalog what I painted and some of my ramblings to go along with it.
We can remember the past, we don’t need to forget our mistakes. I found that I didn’t want to completely forget this mess of a painting, because I found value in it. But we can also still move forward from them. That’s the meaning of this project.
And from here on out, I call myself creative, and an artist.