After I left school, which is a very long time ago, I spent four years at art-college practising to be an artist. Then life took over, I put down my brushes and started on a long winding career that took in art galleries, museums, bits of film and TV, a flirtation with marketing, and work as a business coach and trainer.
Last October I started to paint again. Now I try to spend at least a couple of days a week painting. While I love it and get a huge sense of fulfilment from it, I’ve been surprised to find that it’s the most difficult thing I’ve done for a very long time. The interesting thing is that, alongside the need to re-learn some technical skills (how to handle paint etc.), the challenges of painting have reminded me of some important life-skills
The first thing I’ve been reminded of is the importance of perseverance. When something isn’t going well, when we’re in danger of being knocked-off course or dissuaded from continuing, then the ability to stick at it is essential. But perseverance shouldn’t be simple bloody-mindedness, it needs to be linked to a clarity of purpose and a goal.
Courage is the next thing. I’ve found that when I’m painting I often produce something that looks ok, and it’s very tempting at that stage to accept the painting as finished. At that point it needs courage to go on, to change something that’s good in order to achieve something that’s even better.
Self-belief is crucial here too. There’s something about producing a painting (and this applies to many other aspects of life) that requires the empowering thought that ‘I can do that’ – it requires a certain amount of ‘balls’ to produce something that’s going to be out there in the world representing you.
Lastly, and this is the most thrilling thing to be reminded of (and therefore maybe the most important), painting has reminded me about letting go of pre-conceptions, thinking outside the box, using imagination, being creative – keep on asking questions, keep on exploring, keep on changing perspective.