In my last post on the subject, I mentioned I had started to draw and paint to force myself to see, to overcome resistance to creativity, and to learn something new.  It turns out, however, that beginning that practice has led to a host benefits.

Connection. One great outgrowth of this new focus on drawing and painting was my introduction to a great new community – artists and those who appreciate them.  The Washington DC area, of course, has a thriving arts community, but I had not even scratched the surface of this vast and very interesting resource in the past.  By beginning to focus on subjects that made me draw my attention to the arts, I found myself interacting with, and learning from, a great number of really wonderful and talented people:  people like Philippa Hughes, the force behind The Pink Line Project; Claire Huschle, executive director of the Arlington Arts Center; Norma Kaplan and Susan Soroko from Arlington Cultural Affairs, and my talented painting instructor, Jane Coonce, to name a few.

On a more personal level, learning to draw and paint gave me a whole new way to connect to my five-year-old son, Vidal. Of course I play ball, go on adventures, and roughhouse with him, but those activities don’t always give me the opportunity to really find out what is on his mind.  Painting and drawing together gives us lots of time to connect, in quiet, and with interaction and constructive advice that goes in both directions.

This last point is critical:  by taking up something that I’m not any good at, I’ve conveyed to my young son that it’s important to learn, to take risks, to make mistakes, and then to learn some more.  He feels competent to tell me what he thinks about his own work and mine.  He finds successes and room for improvement in both our work.  And it makes me give myself a mental high-five every time he looks at something I’ve done, or he’s done, with recognition that life is about feeling one’s  way forward.

Meditation.  Another profound benefit of learning to paint and draw is that the practice quickly takes me into a meditative state.  It is easy to lose focus on the detritus of life when one is looking – really looking – at a bridge or a flower.  The health benefits are substantial.

Creation. Finally, I’ve found that I like to create drawings and paintings.  I don’t think Picasso or Leonardo are worried about my potential competition, but I find that I can depict things and ideas in ways that give me – and others – pleasure.

So, I challenge you to take up something that pushes you outside your comfort zone.  It can be music, painting, dance, sculpture, stand-up comedy, or whatever else you want.  But commit to it.  Overcome the resistance.  And then let me know whether your experiences are anything like mine.

I Paint Because Part of Me Didn’t Want To – Part Two