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Monday, July 18, 2016

Practising with watercolours

My very wet, very unpolished swatches of watercolour. This was a practice on blending the colours but I also added the title and scribbled some notes to, er, make it look more artistic lah... Otherwise it'd be rather boring, no?

I was thinking some thoughts as I was doing this about how little I hear of people actually doing this. I mean this as in 
1) give artistic creativity free rein without thought of future reward or consequence and 
2) actually bothering to do this rather than watch TV or Youtube. (Yes, my mind does wander even while I'm concentrating on getting the blending right) 

To the first, I suppose living in pragmatic Singapore could be part of the cause. A lot of people will not understand the point of spending/wasting time painting ugly stuff when it is pretty clear that there are no benefits to be gained. (ie, you will not be a successful painter/musician/dancer/actor) Even fewer will understand why you do it when it is painfully obvious that you have no clear talent at it. (ie, you suck lah)

A very, very, rare few will understand that it is something that is done simply because you want to do it and get better at it.

I mean, take this exercise in painting. Why am I doing this at all? It has no immediate benefit to my short term future, ie, I'm not going to sell the sketchbook page above for millions one day, nor will I be quitting my job in even the next 10 years to sell watercolour swatches for a million a piece. I'm well aware that to many Singaporeans, what I'm doing is a childish exercise. Yes, yes, very nice rectangles, just like what we did in Primary school. Now grow up and get on with life already. 

To others, it is a waste of a limited reserve of effort. Some people will say at this point, "Life is so hard, we work all day, take care of children/parents/pets at night, why would you do something as tiring and fruitless as this? Iphone/iPad/TV/Internet/Facebook is easier lah." or "I have no energy to do this after work. I'm so tired I would rather just lie on the couch with the cats."

Yes, I do have a lot of inner critics and I hear this all the time. (The only one I'd grant the excuse of tiredness is the parent. Yes, I think I would be tired too.)

Which means I also learned ways to counter them.

1) Not everything is about immediate gain and visible show of talent. True success comes also from grit and perseverance. Which is why I believe it's important that I not only show the successes on my blog, but I also show the duds, like the practice page above.

2) Equally important is also what you learn from the duds. You either learn that you suck as a loser, or that you have some stuff you need to improve. One of these lead to better mental health and I think it is clear which.

3) Spending time like this on a hobby takes sweat, grit and effort, I admit. You actually have to pay money for the paint, brushes, paper and book to learn and there have been many times when I come home exhausted, able to do nothing other than lie on my sofa with the cats and the nut. TV at that point is very tempting.

Then after a while, I realised that I wasn't achieving anything (other than a waistline). Spending my time like this, what did I have to show for in my life? What excuse did I have for all my unfulfilled hopes, dreams and aspirations?

More importantly, if I went on like this, what example would I show any future kids of mine? What do I have of me that my kids can look up to? What will people say at my funeral? "Oh, she watched a lot of Doctor Who, and maybe some CSI." That's when I cracked out the paints and the books. At the end of my life, I'd like people to talk and laugh over the millions of bad paintings I did, the horrible photos I took and the fugly craft projects I did and from there, create a picture of me as a whole person, with likes, dislikes, talents, screw-ups and all the stuff I did in my life to show for it. 

Maybe, if I'm lucky, by the end of my life, I'd even have a good number of good stuff to show for my efforts too.

Till then, I want to keep trying in every little way I can. Even baby steps will help a baby to stand up on its own one day. 

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