Right now, my family’s dining room is littered with an organized chaos of various paints, papers, and paint brushes surrounding a focal point of two giant canvases.
My mom is an artist. This is universally one of the words her friends use to describe her. But it also means that I have to maneuver this room on a daily basis for the next few months.
These two giant canvases have morphed into something insanely different from when she started them several weeks ago.
Layers upon layers of paint, plaster, paper, fabric, and probably many things that I don’t even know about have gone into these pieces of art. It’s almost awe-inspiring to see how they start, to see the layers that go into them, and then see the final product.
Tonight, I got a little bit of insight into my mom’s creative process. There were a few things she talked about that were interesting to me, so I decided to write this for you.
The Layers of Life
My mom loves the planning process. It takes her months before she physically begins a piece to brainstorm and plan it. She plans all the layers that go into it. All the colors, the shapes and outlines, everything. It sits in the back of her mind for months – but that’s how all the “cool little details” as she puts it, come into existence. Then, she just sits down and does it.
Along the way, she isn’t always happy with how it’s going. She typically begins with layers of patterned paper, fabric, and stencil work. But then the color starts going on. And, because of the way she works, as soon as she starts painting, everything is up in the air. At one point a few days ago, the colors were garish and weren’t working together. Today, they all work together in harmony thanks to another layer or two.
As I was listening to her explain this, I jumped up and got a piece of paper and a pen asking her if I could write a blog post about this. Because, to me, this is such an amazing metaphor for how life works.
There are some layers that you aren’t happy with, especially while you are in the middle of them.
But, a few layers later, you look back and see that those colors add beauty to your current layer.
And even further along, when you find yourself looking at a finished piece, you, as the artist, see all those layers and see exactly how each of them work to make the finished piece something that you are happy with.
Do What You Love
My mom has always loved to create.
But it’s been a slow process for her to discover how she works. For the longest time, her art was something that was superfluous. Something that she only did when she had free time — which wasn’t often. But then, she started to realize that art is a part of who she is. To her, art is something essential to being a happy and healthy person. Something on the same level as exercise and eating well.
She’s learned that she must do what she loves to live well. There are parts of it that she doesn’t like. There are sometimes layers that she can’t stand. But she does it because it makes her happy.
So. DO WHAT YOU LOVE. There will be parts that you don’t like. There will be layers that you can’t stand. But you must push through that to be happy and have a healthy mind.
For me, even though I sometimes trip walking through the dining room, I always look forward to seeing the progress of her artwork and hearing the wisdom in her creative process.