Practice, Practice, Practice

Artwork is work.

Painting is not just painting. It is looking, seeing, and recording what is observed. It is feeling and expressing. It is a way to swim in a visual medium that, like swimming, takes practice.

Being good at any creative discipline takes practice. It is called artwork because it is work. To practice creativity you need to show up in the creative moment and do the work that flow requires. It is challenging because pure creative flow can happen at any time and in any environment. It can happen when working, learning, sporting, playing, or dreaming; and sometimes when showering. However inspiration comes, creativity is a movement. It is intuition, improvisation, and innovation. Finding ways and time to get a creative process moving must complement your lifestyle. To make a sketch, note a lyric, buy an ingredient for a new recipe, make travel plans, or record a novel idea is not always easy in the timeline of a busy day. Like making time for a workout or spending quality time with a friend, when creative practice is a priority we benefit, and the creativity that we are practicing gets better and better, deeper and deeper. A creative practice is something that enriches us in an on-going process that we enjoy and look forward to doing. To master our creativity we need to practice, practice, practice, not because it is a way to get to Carnegie Hall, because it is a way to wellness.

The picture is my creative practice. I paint with a swimmer’s eye point of view and I swim with a painter’s eye. Swimming and painting are my peak creative experiences. While swimming in a lake, I can only record the scene with my visual memory. When I get to shore I quickly dry off and try to make a first sketch in pencil and a small watercolor study. This image was my view as I swam toward the shore, the green shoreline reflected the sparkling green tones in the fresh water. Once again, the natural light and remarkable landscapes in Maine are humbling to this painter. Before my hair has dried I’ve rendered the first images of that magic scene. Back in the studio I recall the wellness moment and reference my sketches to begin a larger watercolor. Layer by layer, I try to recreate the beauty and tranquility I saw and felt. It is healing as I focus on the flow of the water image and the watercolors. Though I’ve practiced this creative passion for many years, I restrain myself from over-painting and try to be patient with the technical challenges of the medium. I take extra time because I don’t want the flow to end. I don’t want to leave this fluid place.

The finished painting beckons me to dive into my creative practice and those emerald waters. It reminds me that I need practice, practice, practice to master what I love, to keep swimming and painting in the flow. The creative things we love to do can be practiced for self-care and self-expression. The more we practice loved creative things, the more skilled and happy we will be.