If Winston Churchill could start painting later in life, so can you

May 14, 2008 at 4:50 pm (Uncategorized)

I’m reading a little book by Winston Churchill called Painting as a Pastime. In it, Churchill writes that the purpose of the book is not to teach people how to paint, but rather to teach people how to enjoy painting. I really like that distinction because painting for many seems like a daunting under-taking.

Many people think because they haven’t been making art for years, that it’s now too late to start. Painting is one of those art forms that people seem to be afraid of because they think it requires talent. Winston Churchill began painting in his forties. In fact, many painters started later in life. This is good news because Churchill illustrates that no matter where you are in life, you can begin to add more fulfillment to your life by painting now.

On Tuesday nights I get together with other painters, sometimes just one other painter, and we paint. We have come to understand that if you want to paint, you don’t wait for the perfect time, or until you have talent. You just start.

It may feel awkward at first, but it gets better and more comfortable the more you do it. I think if we understand that painting is a process of learning and exploring, we may be a little more forgiving of our selves. The act of painting itself will inevitably make you a better painter. That’s what’s so great about starting now. By next month, you will be a better painter than you are now. And a year from now you’ll be a better painter than you will be in 6 months.

I believe that each blank canvas is the beginning of a journey. I know when I begin a painting I may have a concept in mind, but it’s not until I put brush to canvas, that the way unfolds. As soon as the first mark goes on, the journey begins. The next brushstroke is a reaction to the previous one. And so on.

Sometimes, as I paint, I stop. I may not like what I’ve got. Then I have to determine what’s not working and come up with a way to handle the problem. My action might make it better or worse. Either way, I’ve learned something about the process.

A lot of what painting is, is just testing ideas. You may not even be aware that you are learning and growing. But you are. Painting forces you to slow down. It causes you to really look. It teaches you to identify things that don’t seem right. These lessons help your intuition to develop.

I’m a painter, so I believe everyone should try it. But making any kind of art will enrich your life more than you can imagine. If you’d like more information about painting with me on Tuesday nights, feel free to contact me at Art Village.

Art Saves Lives!

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