Every morning when my husband gets to work, he gives me a call. We usually talk about the day he has planned, and at some point in the conversation he’ll always ask, “What’s on your agenda today?”
My answer might be “Oh, I’ll probably do a little more work on the bird I’m drawing,” or “I might work with my new pastels for a while,” or maybe “I think I’ll work on a new watercolor.”
It strikes me as a bit absurd, though, to think of art in terms of work. I know, of course, that there are many professional artists who do make their living at their easels and drawing boards. For them, yes, art is their work. I know, too, that I’ll never join their ranks. I will forever remain an art hobbyist, someone who draws and paints just for fun.
Why then, do I think of my art as work?
A silly question, really. We always speak of works of art. It’s a phrase that’s worked its way into our everyday speech — and yes, there’s that word again. Work. We’ve somehow become fixated on it, I think.
We have housework or homework or we go out to do yardwork. I make photographs on Facebook and talk about working in my herb garden. We buy work boots and work shirts, and we’re always working on one project or another. My husband goes outside in the evenings to work on his old van. People even talk about working on relationships, for goodness sake!
Doesn’t anyone have fun anymore?
Well, I’m having fun. Sure, there are those occasional days when I’m not too happy with anything I draw or paint, but for the most part, I’m thoroughly enjoying my pursuit of art. I love learning new things, and creating with paints, pastels, and pencils gives me a genuine sense of satisfaction.
I don’t want to think of my creations as works of art. I’d rather see them as artistic playthings. They’re tangible reminders of the pleasure I find in brushing color over a sheet of paper, of the joy I get from making marks with charcoal, and the sheer delight I feel as I watch watercolors mingle and blend.
We have more than enough work to do. We each need a little fun time, a chance to play with ideas and simply enjoy whatever it is we’re doing. I wrote before that if it’s not fun, I don’t want to do it. It’s true. I’d much rather create my artistic playthings than worry about making a work of art.
Even the challenging aspects of art — for me, that means perspective, architectural drawings, and a host of other trouble spots — can be enjoyable when I approach them with a playful attitude. Improving our abilities isn’t so much about working hard as it is about spending time on our studies, and if it’s fun, we’re more apt to put in the necessary time. There are always ways to make it fun.
- Try new things
- Color outside the lines
- Draw upside down
- Choose colors at random
- Experiment with different techniques
So, put on your favorite music — and your old clothes. Go get your hands dirty with charcoal, pastel, or finger paints. Stop thinking about works of art and just have fun creating artistic playthings.