Overcome the fear: first step towards painting

If I am given the authority to answer the question “how can you paint” or  “why do you paint”, I would simply state that painting, like crafting and other creative activities, is a nature talent endowed to every human being by our almighty creator.

I have encountered several individuals who had the capability to draw fairly impressively and creatively, however, whenever the topic moves towards painting, they almost always shake their heads in reluctance and fear.

The most frequent responses I receive would be “Well, I’m not very good at painting”, or “I don’t know… it just doesn’t really seem like my thing.” My friends are often amazed when witnessing me going around with my giant bag of painting tools, cases of paints and canvases. “How can you just paint all the time?” One of my friend once asked, seeing me playing on my canvas when she was writing a report, “I mean, just how the heck do you have so much energy and imagination?”

Well, I found that question rather interesting, because I actually do not have that much imagination. And energy? None of my friend would put that tag on me. Because Jeez, I fall asleep on the bus or in the line all the time. If I am given the authority to answer the question “how can you paint” or  “why do you paint”, I would simply state that painting, like crafting and other creative activities, is a nature talent endowed to every human being by our almighty creator.

Frankly speaking, painting, especially painting on canvas, does has an intimidating appearance. Whenever you see someone painting, the first you recognize might as well be the impressive mess that person creates around him/herself: paint brushes in a cup of muddy water that somewhat shares similar appearance to restricted contaminating chemical; color plates or wood palettes needing intense and long-time washing to be restored to its original state; and tubes, bottles, cubes of different media that vary from acrylic to unknown mysterious matter that looks quite suspicious.

I am not going to say that I never had the fear of doing actual painting. Indeed, I was once terrified when facing a canvas as well. Even today, I still have the creator’s block when I have a blank page of notebook or an untouched canvas in front of me. Nonetheless, I have cultivated my own skills to get over the fair of serious creation, and the most important part of it is to forget about the stress we are placing on ourselves.

I wonder if you, my reader, has had the same experience. When you have a regular notebook in front of you, you naturally begin doodling regardless of the outcome. If the drawing isn’t satisfactory enough, you simply start on another spot: maybe in the margin of a textbook, or simply a piece of kleenex. However, if you’re aware that you’re going to paint, the pencil in your hand suddenly turned heavier. The fact that you do not have the chance to toss it away and start somewhere else when painting on watercolor paper or canvas, especially considering the monetary investment you did on these materials, becomes a harsh burden that murdered a lot of creative ideas.

But oh my dear, shall not you understand: it is always the most important to make your first attempt, and then everything would become much easier.

Now, for those who find it intimidating to paint, here are a couple useful tips for you:

1. Always be confident about yourself. Understand that every human being was born wired with creativity. It is the essence of human civilization, and please, do give yourself a chance. It doesn’t have to start with painting. Simply challenge something you have always had a block on the way: write a stage play, draw an anime character, record a dance video, etc… This stage is to get yourself over the subconscious of embarrassment stage where you keep telling yourself that you will not succeed and others will only find you hilarious and awkward.

2. Find someone who is supportive. Although I personally always say that it is all up to yourself to be creative and productive, it is very helpful, especially for beginners, to find a supportive partner. It could be your spouse, your children, or your parents. And it could also be a friend you trust. However, do not neglect the difference between being supportive and tolerant. A supportive partner still sees your flaws and helps you correct it. This is necessary as we all prefer compliments then harsh critics though the latter is what actually makes us better. That person should be the one who keeps telling you that you’re doing a good job, and it should always be the person who tells you to get your butt over in front of that canvas/computer/knitting when you are in self-denial.

3. A comfortable workspace. Although we see artists painting in various locations from a crowd coffee shop to the side of streets, it is best for beginners to paint at a comfortable location where one doesn’t feel spied on. Believe me or not, outsider’s observation can be quite stressful for someone who just started to paint. Therefore, it is important to start with somewhere that has a low-level of disturbance when one first begins to create creative works. My best suggestion, of course, would be one’s own bedroom. Also, the art-studio on college campus is also a convenient choice as one is allowed to leave paint marks on the table/floor without the obligation of thoroughly cleaning it up. It makes it a lot less stressful if one does not worry about the side-effect of one’s painting.

If you are interested in knowing where to start your painting journey, keep following my posts. In the meantime, support me by donation if you would, and feel free to take a look at my gallery on ArtPal: visit EKwonderland

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