One of the things I know with certainty is that I’m good at habits. Every morning I wake up before 4 and spend 45 minutes to an hour painting. Habit usually makes it easier to move forward because you have momentum in some direction. However, sometimes efforts stall out and you need to find a new way to move forward.
When I’m painting there are two feelings. One is more flowing and free. The other is contemplative and somehow tortured. Painting from the flowing and free state is what I’m trying to cultivate at all times. That state requires less deliberate thinking and is very present. The other (existentially tortured) state is much less desirable.
I’ve come to associate the existentially tortured state with being out of touch myself. I like to think about it as a guidepost indicating I’ve probably gone off track somehow. Whether that’s actually true or not is debatable, but this is about making sense of things so we’ll just say that it’s true.
I’ve found that simplifying is one of the best ways to get back into the flow. This month I entered that existentially tortured state and somehow found my way out of it by just painting little 4×6″ watercolor paintings.
How it started . . .
The first painting I made this month happened by accident. I needed a card for my wife. Like many people, we’re not visiting stores at the moment so I decided to paint one with watercolor. That little card led to a few additional studies and they started piling up.
The paintings are simple and great way to just paint something. After the card, I moved on to painting them with 3 colors and just splashing water around for fun.
I also tried drawing lines on them after the paint dries as a way of adding interest. Watercolor painting frequently leads to organic looking shapes and the lines create interesting contrast.
Aside from the obvious benefit of relieving existential torture, the small watercolor format creates natural momentum. It doesn’t matter if I splash down some color I don’t like. The commitment is small. I can just move on to the next painting and try again. I like that.