But the real question I ask myself is "why do it in the first place?"
It's not like I'm going to make a living off of it. It's more like I can't not do it.
And practice makes things better. I like seeing that improvement. It shows that even though I'm not working outside the home I can do something disciplined and strive to do it better than the time before -- and succeed. And sometimes you go too far. This is the initial pencil sketch of an iris from a magazine. I liked it!
This is the sketch when I added in some color pencil. I don't like it nearly as well as the black and white.
Not everything works. And even the ones that work could probably be better. More than once I've finished a painting and thought, "That's not quite right, but I can't do anymore on this one." Because sometimes you just have to stop. I'm not at all satisfied with the one below. But it just means I have to keep trying.
A FB friend of mine, Jessie Rae, nailed it well in a post she recently had:
Everyone has a lot of bad art inside them. Trite poems, bad paintings, lousy sewing projects that don't turn out, sweaters that flatter no one, or for less definitively creative people maybe it's picking the wrong curtains, buying an ugly jacket or whatever other failed attempt at self expression you've chosen.
She goes on to say that still -- it's important to get that bad art out of you.
Best to get it over with. It's just like popping a zit. Get it out before it festers. It's only a failure if you don't learn from it. Do the bad art. Learn the lessons it has to teach you and then put it behind you.
She's right -- it can apply to any art or craft, your kitchen experiments, the garden, you name it. I know I had plenty of sweaters I knit that weren't quite right. They were close (some of them). But they were far from perfect or even good. They were good enough. This one, "Millie," came pretty close after a couple of times. But I still wish it was better.
I hate the term "good enough." But sometimes you need to know when to quit -- and then take what you learned and do it better. Sometimes that means doing it over and over again.
None of these paintings of a scene from Giverny are quite right. I did these in 2017. The photo I worked with is on the right. I should try again.
There's another reason why making art is good for you -- and it doesn't matter if it's the "bad art" or you are far more accomplished. An article in Lifehack.org outlined a recent study that explains that even if you aren't good at art, doing it increases one's mental health. How? The act of creating art reduces cortisol levels which are a factor controlling stress.
OK, sometimes when something's not working out when I paint, I get a little stressed. But overall, I get absorbed. I don't eat or drink or look at the time. It's a different mind state, as real to me as Rick's distance cycling is to him.
Another study done at Drexel University indicates that 45 minutes of art a day can boost your confidence level. I'm not sure I've personally experienced that -- especially when something doesn't turn out -- but the results indicated an increase in feelings of self-efficacy and the ability to achieve goals and overcome obstacles. On the other hand, maybe it does. I'm not afraid to paint animals or pets anymore. I used to be -- and it's so hard to catch the "soul" of the animal. But I'm more confident I can do it now than a year or two or three ago.
And I really do love trying to get the animal just right!
Numerous studies have shown positive benefits to the art of creation. And while these are approaching what we traditionally think of as art, I say it applies to any arts -- stitching, cooking, gardening, writing. It is the creating that matters, not the media.
So, here's to doing your thing -- whatever it may be. And doing it with joy and as much skill as you have with the intent to just do and be done or to keep on.
Because sometimes, you hit it right. And then the elation is so big, you can't help but smile.
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