Creativity can be such an outlet and distraction for the anxious mind, and I think a lot of our generation is figuring this out. Adult coloring books and coloring apps are both being advertised as stress-relievers. People are taking up sewing and crocheting again in these strange times. There is definitely something about making a pretty thing, even if you know it took little-to-no skill to make it. It calms the mind.
But for all the coloring book people I know, I know very few people who paint. Painting was always something I thought took a lot of skill to do well, but I've learned through the past couple of years that you don't need a lot of skill to relax your mind in front of a canvas.
I am no Bob Ross, trust me. Typically my best work requires the urge. I have to feel that need to make something creative. I call it the "artistic seizure." I paint, draw, craft, doodle, even sculpt, but usually they come out sub-par, more for me than for the observer, unless driven by that seizure. It's only been recently that I've felt I've been able to recapture a love for the creative, even without it.
I took a long break from creativity through high school, where I was so concerned with the fact that I wasn't the best. When I got to college, I started to dip my toes back into art. There was this girl who talked about painting as her outlet all of the time. Painting was pretty foreign to me at the time, something that skilled artists could do but that was it: they could take these random colors and smoosh them together... and then ta-da! Something recognizable.
This girl in college, though, she didn't paint scenes or things or people. She painted backgrounds and words and hung them up all over her room. So I tried it with her, and then I bought my own paints and tried it myself. Soon, any time I had an "artistic seizure," or even when I just wanted to relax, I turned to a canvas. For a more full gallery of some of my work, you can check it out on my blog!
Painting is not nearly as taxing, as hard, or as expensive as I always thought it was.
I've been painting for about 5 years now, and I can tell you that unless you're going for gallery-quality, cheap paint is just fine! I actually just use Apple Barrel paint you can get from Walmart for 50 cents a pop. You can also go with just your primary colors and a black and white if you're skilled at mixing. I wasn't then so I still have tons of left over colors I know how to mix to make now.
Fun Tip: I find it helpful to paint the cap of the paint bottle with the color so I don't have to pull the bottles out to check, and it immediately shows me what the color looks like on white.
Now get yourself an old sheet, some plastic palettes, and a cheap set of paint brushes in different sizes.
Fun Tip: You can also use Q-tips, sponges, your fingers, or anything else you can clean paint off of after to paint with!
Lay out your canvas (these also can come cheap from any crafting store or a Walmart), and sit yourself down in front of it to dive in.
You'll notice that my paintings typically have a colorful background, and something on top. My process goes the same way: background, then I decide what to put on top of it. If I could paint and mix backgrounds all day, I would. Here are some tips for making something simple if you're looking to start somewhere.
Pick your colors! I usually go with one color and make a gradient, but here I decided to go with a pastel color scheme. Drop the colors on the canvas and just smear it with your brush. Make it blend by crossing the colors over each other. If you start to blend a color you didn't intend (like some of the accidental brown in mine), wipe the brush and add a new color! I added some green to off-set the brown that was starting to mix, and then added some white flecks.
At this point, you should let your canvas dry while you figure out what you have the inspiration to put on top of your background. I've done a purple background with pumpkins, or a green background with a Christmas ornament. You can practice on a piece of paper before you put paint to canvas if you're nervous.
If you decide on a quote, you'll have to think about spacing and make sure you don't end up having to squish the end of the quote on the bottom of the canvas, so sometimes using a pencil on the canvas lightly will help you space your words correctly. I used the phrase "Dream Big" because my family is big on it, and I feel like a lot of what I'm doing right now requires some pretty big dreams.
I always over-decorate my pictures. I add too many little touches, too many flairs or sparkles or swirls. The funny part: THAT'S OKAY! I already knew getting into this that this wasn't a picture I was going to frame and have in the living room. This might be a picture to put in my future art studio or in a creative space... and that's ALSO OKAY!
How many times have you colored in a coloring book and thought "Well, if it's really good, I'll hang it up over the fireplace!" (Hint: You haven't. No one does.) Let yourself enjoy the silliness, let yourself over-embellish or make a mistake. Try a weird technique, use a weird tool. It's more about the process than the product.
Even if you hate it in a month, you can always paint white over it and make something brand new! That's the joy of doing this for fun: there is no limit. I hope this little guide let's you explore your creative side that you might have never known existed!