Last week, I started painting. I haven’t painted in a long time, not since fashion school a few years ago, and it was fun to get paint all over myself and spend the afternoon creating things. I now feel the intense need to invest in overalls. (Okay, more overalls.)
I remember painting with my grandma in Wisconsin, when I was probably 12. She was a wonderful painter, mostly did landscape stuff, and would work only with watercolors. I wanted to learn how to do it, so she set up a little table for me next to hers, and showed me how to paint a birch tree.
I didn’t want to paint a birch tree, I had absolutely no interest in a birch tree. I wanted to paint something big and exciting and I wanted it to be easy and I wanted to be the best at it. (I was not the most reasonable child.) But she was in charge, as she always was, and we were going to paint a goddamn birch tree.
So we painted trees, mine was crap and hers was lovely and elegant. I decided that painting wasn’t going to be my thing, because I wasn’t good at it, and I didn’t take an art class again until I was 32. (Note: this sounds like my grandmother turned me off from art, and it was certainly not that, it was my own weird perfectionism and impatience that did that.)
Anyway, I ended up painting three days in a row last week, and it was nice. I like physically doing it, mixing and messing around with colors and somehow always getting it in my hair, which just makes no sense at all. The stuff I make is BAD, it is not good, it is not pretty, it’s not even interesting, and it doesn’t mean anything. I mean, I painted my jeans on Saturday, and they we lopsided. I painted something that sort of looked like bamboo, but if bamboo feel into a motel art competition in the early 80’s. The best thing I did all week was when I wet an entire page of water color paper with water and dripped color onto with no creative direction at all.
The freeing thing about it, is that I am not trying to get better at it. I like doing it, and I feel like I rarely get to just do something without the intention of improving, and somehow winning at that thing. This might be an American thing, we are always trying to be the best at stuff and unproductive time is seen as wasted. But I am slowly starting to see the benefits of doing something poorly, like making bad art.
So here are photos of my non-precious, total garbage paintings. I will probably recycle them, because they will contribute more to the world that way, which is fine with me.