Painting Got Me Through the Pandemic and Here’s Why

I am the younger sibling, so naturally I have always had more creative inclinations. Art excited me ever since I first lay hands on colours. Seeing my keen interest, my parents put me in one of those art classes when I was nine. You know, the one that required few hours once a week. And I attended that class pretty regularly till I was sixteen. Then I got more and more occupied with my studies and even painting felt like a task. Over those years I feel like I stopped painting for myself, it was just a chore and that is probably why I didn’t try hard enough to get back to it until recently.

The last painting I made before I took a break

I returned home from college in the pandemic. My mother had kept out some of my incomplete paintings hoping that maybe it will draw me to completing them. Eventually, after a while, I found the references but as I ran my hands over the large canvases, I couldn’t remember what I felt when I started them. And then, the canvas just felt like a vast stretch of white I couldn’t overcome. I think it happens with a lot of people, they see all that blank space and it intimidates them, they think how could they ever fill that up.

But as I stayed holed up in my house for weeks because of the strict lockdown, I ached to see the sunset from my favourite beach or the flowers from my hostel window. I missed the way the clouds looked, going up on that swing in the park near college. So, I thought of starting small. I made clouds on a small circular piece of wood. It wasn’t that great, I was out of touch for years now but still, there was something about colours filling up the blank space. There was something about giving form to a memory. And I realised that maybe painting doesn’t always need to feel so aspirational, sometimes its just a blob of paint that makes you happy.

Honestly, somedays now, I just wake up feeling a colour and there’s not always a deep meaning behind it. But as I mix my colours to make a particular shade of orange, something unwinds in me, I feel lighter. As the colour takes form on my palette, my thoughts start to become more coherent, a memory that was probably desperate to get out, surfaces and things just begin to fall in place. Now, I am not saying that it will magically take away all your worries but painting is known to be a great stress reliever. The simple reason behind this is that it is a form of outlet, something you are unable to put in word or something that your mind is trying to say unconsciously.

My first large scale canvas painting

A lot has been said about the benefits of painting and how it improves cognition in multiple ways but I am simply so amazed by the world of colours. When I work on a painting, I am so engrossed in making the right colour and discovering so many tints and shades along the way. It’s uncountable honestly, the number of colours you will come across while painting something. Even when you don’t take the effort to mix colours on palette, the way they would react to different lighting, different texture would bring forth something unique. Even if you aren’t a skilled artist, painting can still be your outlet because you don’t need definite forms to tell a story. The colours and strokes do that. It is beautiful, how much our emotional state is reflected in the choices we make while painting. The sky seems grey when we are sad and the sun shines brighter when we are happy. My paintings track my mood through the pandemic, days I was feeling hopeful and days I was particularly happy about something.

Painting comes with so much freedom I think, you are not bound by rules like you generally are with other forms of art. As Bob Ross said, “Mix up a little more shadow colour here, then we can put us a little shadow right in there. See how you can move things around? You have unlimited power on this canvas — can literally, literally move mountains”. The possibilities are endless. You don’t have to be afraid of being wrong about something because there is nothing as such when it comes to painting, you could defy laws of land and even gravity. The only effort you need is to start.

If you are somebody looking for a reason to start painting or an artist who wants to get back to it, pick a colour that draws you and play with it on a blank space. Define each day with a colour, each emotion with a stroke and very soon you will have a journal that doesn’t require words.

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