I’ve always enjoyed art. I’ve messed around with it, to some degree, my whole life. I like to draw and in the last 5-6 years, I’ve gotten into painting. It’s not something I do all of the time. That is not how my hobbies work. I tend to cycle through a few different things, but when I am focused on a particular hobby I am all-in. I don’t just do it a little bit, I basically do it a-lot-of-bit. I hammer whatever hobby I am on until almost a point of burnout sometimes. When the burnout hits, I move onto the next one. Eventually, I will cycle back to whatever hobby it was, but I pick up something else and go all-in on it in the mean time.
The all-in part is something I am working on. Nothing wrong with being totally committed to your hobby, but I feel I need to balance multiple hobbies at the same time and not just focus on one. I feel it will lessen the burnout feeling and I will be able to stay with a particular hobby or hobbies for a longer period of time. Playing in a multiple hobby at a time mode helps to keep my mind distracted. It keeps me thinking of being creative versus dwelling on the negative stuff that loves to pop into my mind.
Currently, I have not been painting. I’ve been writing and making some short videos. Both newer hobbies to me and I am enjoying using some different creative cells in my brain. I’ll paint again. I always do, but it’s not currently where my head is right now.
I find I don’t draw as much as I feel I get more out of painting. I’ve been dabbling with some animation for a short video I’m working on, but really I have found I enjoy the process of painting maybe a little more. It’s a tough thing to compare as tomorrow I might flip to total sketch mode. One reason I like painting is how forgiving it is. As I paint, if I don’t like how something looks, I can just paint over it and make it look how I want it to in the end.
Being able to correct something I have just attempted on canvas, and changing it or tweaking it to how I envision it, as maybe what I first tried wasn’t exactly how I wanted that line or that blended area to look is awesome. I find that painting is extremely forgiving.
With drawing, if you make a mistake you erase it and do whatever you erased again. The issue can be is sometimes you still see the mark you just tried to erase, so it can be hard to hide a particular area with something new. Painting is totally different. You can always paint over something, sometimes even before the old part you are correcting has dried and start adding more layers of paint and eventually you end up with an area of the painting you are very happy with.
I would say I’m better than average at painting and drawing. I’ve been around some level of it my whole life. It really made it easy as my dad (now retired) was my small town’s art teacher. I had my dad in almost every grade I went through starting with 1st grade. So, needless to say, I had plenty of opportunities and supplies to give the art thing a healthy try.
Being good at art, especially painting, doesn’t mean I can see something or imagine something and then replicate it and it be perfect the first try. One may think an artistic person would just nail it. This isn’t true. My brain can see something and then my hands, while being guided by my brain, can do a pretty good job at doing what I see, but it definitely isn’t always accomplished on the first try. I do have to work at it.
Sometimes, I paint something and I like it initially. I’ll sometimes walk away and then come back to it and I won’t like it as much or I feel I could make it look better, so I re-work the area until I am satisfied with it.
I get a little perfectionist-like when it comes to painting or anything creative. This can lead me to overworking a problem when I really should have left it alone. This is the other side of creating something. You have to learn when enough is enough. This is very hard to figure out at first and I know I’m still figuring that part out. I say you have to learn to say enough, as it isn’t something you just know right off the bat. At least I didn’t know it right off the bat. I’ve had to learn when to put the brush down and just smile at what I’ve done because I’m happy with it.
Some of this is me being hard on myself in a way, but it also is the part of me that wants to make a perfect representation of what I am imagining. Well, I can’t always do that. My style sometimes is just different than what I am seeing and some of your style may look different than what you originally saw. This is OK as nothing needs to look perfect when you really are doing a representation of something.
I’ve always said, in relation to my job, “the enemy of good is better”. You keep blowing up a balloon in someone’s leg artery, looking for perfection, and you will run into issues. You can seriously damage the vessel. The physician has to learn when what they have done, to open up a blockage, is enough and when to press on a little more. The same idea works with painting, especially being a perfectionist. There can be a point where you’ve worked it too much and it gets hard to come back from. Maybe now you have a spot that has so many layers of paint on it that the spot sticks out because there is way more paint on that spot than anywhere else on the painting.
In life, and especially where our mental health journey is concerned, I find that we travel down our road to better mental health in the same manner as I would paint a picture. Sometimes we apply the paint to our canvas and it looks great after the first try. Awesome! This is great, but this isn’t how it always works.
We have asked for help. This is us setting up our canvas. Immediately after asking for help, we begin the process of moving forward and crawling out of the dark hole we have just been in. We want to move as far away from the darkness and get back to a level of life where we can be happy again and really enjoy our life.
These initial steps are us applying the first bit of paint. Maybe we paint the blue sky background or maybe you envision a solid color as your background. You start with this. This is the foundation of our painting. From there, we start to add more paint and our painting starts taking on some detail. Maybe we have spoken to a friend about what is troubling us. Maybe we go see a therapist. Maybe we decide to stop doing an addictive behavior and now we are in the beginning process of figuring out how we do it. This is great!
As we go, the painting begins to take shape. You’ve laid out the basic shape of how things are going to look. The awesome thing about our mental health journey, much like a painting, is that if we don’t like something we have just attempted to paint, we can always paint over it. Sometimes you like it after the first attempt, but sometimes we need to tweak our plan. You like the initial shapes and idea of your painting, but you want to change it a bit to fit a little better into your overall vision for yourself.
You decide to alter an area of your painting by applying more paint or maybe by using a different color. The idea of the overall painting is the same, but now we are tweaking what we have on the canvas to look more the way we have envisioned it. Sometimes we may need to see multiple therapists before we find someone who you feel you can really gel with. Sometimes we need to see a different doctor, kind of along the same line as the therapists. Maybe a technique we have learned needs to be altered a bit to better fit into our lives.
Sometimes our vision changes some. We had an idea in our mind, but then we get a little bit different of an idea so now we evolve our plan. We try many things through our journey. Some stick the first time and some have to be altered some or even completely changed as we move forward. None of this is wrong. None of this is bad. We need to be active in our treatment and we also need to keep an open mind. Things change or sometimes they simply don’t work out.
But we keep moving forward.
That is the beauty of paint whether it be a real painting or a metaphor used for our lives. If we don’t like something, we can always add more paint or paint over it. What we were doing didn’t necessarily look bad, but it didn’t exactly measure up to what we have envisioned in our minds.
Life is forever changing. This is not a revelation or anything, but I think we sometimes forget that it is OK to change with it. We don’t have to hold onto our old ideas. They can change. They can evolve. We certainly don’t want to hold onto to everything about ourselves that helped to lead us to that dark hole. Some parts of our past will fit into the change, but some of it needs to be painted over. It remains a part of us, but it doesn’t have to be seen or represent how people see us as we move forward. You don’t have to look the same, as far as our minds work, and we really are trying to be happy with how we have been changing and reshaping ourselves.
Part of why I start a painting is to see where it will go from start to finish. My original idea tends to leave a foundation, but sometimes the idea does evolve in my mind as I work more and more through the process.
When I first asked for help, I kind of had an idea of how the process was going to work. It was general as all of what I was going to be doing, even though some of it I had no idea about yet, was going to be new to me. I needed to change it up. I decided to continue with my painting, but my idea had evolved into getting help outside of myself and with getting help, the picture of my life changed in my mind as well.
I made the decision to get help and change my life. I made the decision to be more active in caring for my mental health. I made a decision that I couldn’t keep going as I had been. The old way had proven to be destructive and I had to change to survive. So instead of throwing the whole picture away and starting over, I decided to alter my picture and I also added more paint.
I’m still painting my picture of myself. My guess is this will be the most amount of time ever spent on a work of art that I’ve done, but I am still painting. Maybe I will apply paint over something I thought I liked, but maybe the difference of my idea will be what makes me feel happy about what I am doing in the end. This is the point after all. We should and we deserve to step back from the painting we are doing and we should be able to smile at what we see in front of us. We should be proud of all we are doing to better our lives and get ourselves back to living a fulfilling life.
Make your painting look how you want it to look. Keep working at it. Add more paint. Keep blending the contours. If you don’t like what you are seeing, tweak the plan. Stay active in strengthening your mental health and well-being.
We are worth the masterpiece we have set off to make ourselves into. We are worth every bit of the effort. We really are! This is how precious our lives are. Somedays it’s hard to see, but you and I are precious and so are our lives. Keep working at all you are doing! You are doing a great job!
You got this! I got this! We got this! Let’s keep walking this journey together.
Have a great day!
Please visit: Jason Kehl’s Basement Of Jams: Rocking Mental Health
A website I created to further my mission to spread mental health awareness. There you will find this blog and a podcast I do, along with some other creative expression works I have done all in the name of mental health. It Is OK, To Not Be OK. We can do this together.
Also, please feel free to venture over to Facebook. I started a group over there where we can all be lifted up and share with others who are dealing with a lot of the same things. It is a very chill group and all are welcome!