Wine, Laughter & Newbie Mistakes
Have you ever tried something new, something completely outside your realm of expertise & felt that rush of excitement & anticipation?
As an introvert & recovering perfectionist the idea of tackling my very first painting on canvas in public with only my Mom & a glass of wine to sustain me left me eagerly, anxiously awaiting my very first Paint Nite.
What does a night out sloshing paint on canvas with my Mom have to do with your business or writing?
I've written about creative cross-training before & it applies to creatives first & foremost. But let me say this - I don't care what kind of business you have we are ALL creative & we can ALL benefit from stretching our creative muscles.
After all, You never know when a little creative problem solving just might save your biz.
I'm so in love with nurturing my creativity I recently made it a goal to set aside more time in my calendar for creative activities that had nothing to do with writing. Or staring at a computer screen...also important when you run an online business. Because this is the basic theory behind creative cross-training: do something creative outside your regular gig & it actually helps you get better at what you do.
At the very least? You start to see new connections & you come away feeling more inspired.
That is the heart of creativity: new connections & feeling inspired.
Writing is my regular gig so I'm always hunting for opportunities to do something completely different. Art, music, dancing, cooking, gardening...okay, who am I kidding, for me it will never be gardening. But the point is that the opportunities to express ourselves creatively are endless. Just. Make. Something. And have fun. Having fun is required.
This isn't work; it's play time.
I have some background in music. Royal Conservatory trained pianist here (say that in your poshest English accent). It's classical training, think hours of practising EVERY scale going up & down the entire piano not to mention triads, broken triad & arpeggios. I'm down with young Mozart, mastered a fugue many, many moons ago & learned things like theory, history & transposition (blech).
I may have even been so smitten with Beethoven that when I came across this piano in a museum in Vienna (the museum of music & war) I told my friend to watch for the guards while I leant precariously over the velvet rope to play "just one note". They plexiglassed the keys of course, for crazy rebels like me.
But lately, my piano hasn't been calling to me. My skills have definitely slipped. And whenever I sit down to play I've usually got 2 extra pairs of hands helping me. Those hands usually get frustrated with how much of the keyboard I use & ask me to leave so they can divide it up between them at Middle C. I love that my kids want to play but they only seem to want to play when I'm playing, sigh.
What I HAVE been interested in is something I've never done before. The new. The place where I can start from scratch with no expectations. And where my ego can comfortably take a back seat because nothing is at stake here. I'm not supposed to be good.
As a child, I was supposed to be good at music. As an adult, I'm supposed to be good at writing. But when it comes to art? I've never done it before. The last thing I painted was a wall.
There are no stories in my head of trumped up expectations. I can just play.
So back to Paint Nite.
It was creative cross-training, it was in support of our local food bank, it was a belated Mother's Day gift & it was fun!
Picture a few dozen women perched in front of their canvases, beverage of choice in one hand & paintbrush in the other. We're all attempting to follow the directions of our leader & paint the same picture.
Our instructor, Candace, was fabulous. She named the brushes Big Daddy, Big Mama & The Squirrel. Not to be left out, the cup of water was called the jacuzzi. Now, when you start to tell a bunch of slightly drunk women "not to be afraid to get rough with Big Daddy in the jacuzzi" laughter erupts & the sexual innuendos only get better from there.
My Mom & I both started the evening canvas virgins. And I'll admit I was prepared to declare it an abstract impressionist painting if it was an utter disaster. But we both held our own. And more importantly, we had so. much. fun.
Here's my Mom at the end of the night with her finished painting. Not bad, right?
Doing something completely different was energising. I woke up this morning & wrote this post instead of the one I had planned. (Bonus next week is done now too).
It wasn't just about the wine, the laughter & being in a room full of newbies making mistakes & all trying to figure it out together (although it was totally about wine, laughter & a bunch of newbies making mistakes together). It was also about stretching those creative muscles in new & different directions.
It was amazing to walk around the room at the end of the night & see how the same painting was expressed in completely different ways. They were the same but unique. Each a reflection of the woman who for the last 2 hours committed brush to canvas.
And we were all so jazzed for one another. Complimenting one person's clouds or another's shading. As a solopreneur who works online. This face-to-face camaraderie, even though it was fleeting was rich & precious. I will definitely do this again.
Here's my "masterpiece". Are there a thousand things I'd change? Yep - recovering perfectionist right here. But am I also super proud of my first attempt? You bet. Even better? I had an awesome night with my Mom.
And I woke up so eager to write my pen could hardly keep up.
That makes this painting truly beautiful.