Making a Mess – Just for Kicks . . .

I have been fascinated with art and artists and making art and crafting and craftspeople for as long as I can remember. I enjoy almost all art – but I especially love folk art.

I love art with bold colors. (Monet is undeniably lovely but not really my cup of tea . . . Just a bit too pastel . . .) I love whimsical art. Art that surprises. Art with a twist. Art that isn’t an exact representation of the world as it is – but rather as the artist sees the world (or perhaps even wishes it were) really draws me in.

When we visit Valladolid, Mexico – the docents at the folk-art museum there quickly begin to recognize the quirky lady with the knitting needles and yarn from Louisville, Kentucky who just keeps coming back over and Over and OVER again. If you ever find yourself in Valladolid – Casa de los Venados (House of the Deer) should be on your trip agenda. It is so totally amazing!

Anyway . . . I love art the way some people love their I-phones.   I find it mesmerizing. It draws me in. It captivates me.

I always wanted to make art. But my childhood home was an odd place. It wasn’t the sort of place where one made art or messes or did whimsical things. Messes were not welcome or tolerated. I learned from a very early age to color literally and metaphorically inside the perfectly straight – rigid lines VERY carefully. Orderliness and perfectionism were worshipped even more than Jesus. (And Jesus was a really big deal.   My parents raised not 1 but 2 pastors!)

Perfect was the only acceptable result of anything – even art projects. And well – I was no Rembrandt or Michelangelo. Nor would I ever be. So – I quit making art.

I did other things I enjoyed. I read. I knit.   I occasionally experimented with beading. I gardened. Eventually – I embroidered.

I pretended that I didn’t want to make art. And everything I did make was all very neat and orderly and tidy.   I colored inside someone else’s lines.   It was safer and easier that way.

Except the flowerbeds – my favorite flowerbeds are chaotic and overflowing with color and plants. Flowers planted in neat little or long rows bore me. I delight in chaotic swirls of growth – the way nature does it. My flowerbeds have always been wild masses of flowers and greenery.

But recently – well – recently – my brain and my fingers got restless. Coloring inside the lines wasn’t working for me anymore. I love to knit. I will always be a knitter – but suddenly – shockingly I realized knitting simply wasn’t enough!?!?!?!   It was too neat. Too orderly. Too linear.   I needed another creative outlet . . .

I was craving something messier. More colorful. Less confining.

Trying new things isn’t easy for me. But I decided to be brave. To ignore my childhood programming. I decided to play. To have fun. To make messes. To throw caution to the wind and to make some art.   No judgment. I just gave it a whirl. I tried something new to me.

I bought paint and some canvases. I dug the boys’ paint brushes and palates out of the craft zone in the basement.

And I started painting.

I am having a blast. I am just playing around – having fun – making messes and chaos and letting color happen on canvas with paint. I am goofing off. I get paint in my hair and on my hands and elbows. Doug the dog keeps me company and Ash the kitten has walked through my wet – paint-filled palate twice now – but this is about having fun and being creative.   Besides – I am giving painting outside the lines a try these days. Often – WAY outside the lines!

My paintings will certainly never make it onto a museum’s walls.   I will never have a gallery showing.   No one (other than Will – Jack and Jason) will encourage me to hang my paintings on their living room walls. I won’t be quitting my career to pursue my art.

But . . .

Making art is fun. Playing is incredibly important for everyone. Trying new things is just plain good for us. Unstructured play makes us smarter and more creative and less likely to be a narcissist (seriously research backs this up – I read a lot!). Even/especially really old-ish people like me benefit and grow from play and being creative.   Scientists and researchers say learning new thing as we age helps with memory function and staves off dementia!

But it also does great things for our hearts and our souls!   Trying new things that we enjoy brings happiness and discovery and delight and joy and growth. These are such glorious blessings.

So – have you tried anything new lately? Have you done anything just for fun? Have you played? Have you experimented? Have you given anything a whirl just for kicks?

It isn’t about being the best or rocking it like a rock star (but maybe your dream was to BE A ROCK STAR?!?!?) It is about allowing yourself to discover new things – to explore – to try – to fail with a laugh or a sigh – to have fun and simply to delight in being alive.

Was there something you always wanted to do when you were a kid – but couldn’t do? Or perhaps it was something you loved doing when you were a kid and stopped doing for some reason. Can you give it a whirl now? If you think you can’t give it a go – is that really – honestly true?

I think of this as sabbath for our souls. We ALL need to rest and to delight and to be creative and to do things just because they are fun!

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