I like to paint, not walls, but pictures on canvas. I haven’t seriously painted anything since the early 1980s, well maybe a few but very few.
I also like to write stuff, like fiction, which should be obvious to anyone who frequents this site. I gave up painting years ago and began writing, but there was about a ten-year gap between those two events. Meanwhile, I was designing stuff, mostly advertising and packages. That filled in the creativity gap nicely and actually captured a time before it and after it. I make my living designing stuff.
All three would be considered to be among the creative arts. I want to stop designing stuff (retire) and begin painting stuff again, but also keep writing stuff.
And where is all this rambling about creative stuff going? I figured out why I quit painting stuff and why I want to start again. As part of that, I figured out why I like writing stuff.
(This will all make sense at some point, so hang in there.)
I met an artist through FaceBook, Eril Lee Gafill, a Big Sur, California artist, and I was really attracted to her style of painting, which is very different from my own. What I liked about her style was her ability to capture the subject, mostly landscapes and some still life studies, without a lot of laborious detail, and her paintings are full of raw energy. They are a delight to look at and study. What I deduced from that is she paints very fast, completing the piece is a matter of hours, maybe less in some cases, thus she is able to be very prolific. On the other hand, it takes me weeks and even months to complete mine. The difference is I labor over detail, plus I was doing it part time while designing stuff to feed my family and pay the rent.
I quit painting years ago because it became boring, and as I now describe it, rather than waiting weeks of months to enjoy what I created, I wanted more immediate gratification for my efforts.
Writing offered that immediate gratification. Even though the story might take many months or over a year to complete, the process of getting there is very gratifying. I enjoy writing the dialog between characters and the scenes I was setting up and seeing them come to life through what I was writing. I did not need the finished product to enjoy what I was doing. To me, they were alive in the present time instead of the distant future.
Think of it this way: You are sitting around a campfire, and someone is telling a story. And while it may take a long while to get to the conclusion, you are enjoying getting there as the drama builds.
Motorcyclist have a saying that perfectly captures this: It isn’t the destination, it’s the ride.
That’s what writing was for me, and painting was not. And that is why I gravitated to Erin’s style, BUT I was thinking in terms of the destination in the context of cutting weeks down to a few days at most. That is not quite the same as “the ride.”
I met Erin face to face for the first time last weekend. She was in NOLA for a showing of her paintings. She was quite busy, so we got to speak for only a few minutes, but it was a very enlightening few minutes for me. Trying to understand her style of painting better, I asked her about some of her techniques, and in the process of explaining how she worked, she commented that some artists only enjoy their work when it is finished, but for her, each brush stroke was a joy. She was enjoying the ride! That resonated with me, and I commented that I was an artist that only enjoyed his work when it was finished. Her reply was, “You probably paint very detailed.”
At that point it all came together for me. I connected why I like writing to why I didn’t enjoy painting. I really want to start painting again, but this time I want to work less detailed and enjoy the ride—each and every brush stroke.
Thank you, Erin! I look forward to learning more from you.