Today, I’m thinking about the importance of play in art.
I feel pulled in so many different ways on a daily basis. There’s so much to get done – finishing my new course, writing and organizing blog posts, updating my websites (hah!), nevermind painting. And oh yeah, what about fun time, downtime, a balanced life?!
I’m reading a fascinating book called Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less which is all about doing more of the right things. This morning, I skipped to the chapter on ‘Play’. Author Greg McKeown defines ‘play’ as, “anything we do simply for the joy of doing rather than a means to an end.”
This brought me to the idea of play in art. I really try to play when I’m in the studio. But most times, I find playing the way McKeown defines it, really difficult to do! I always feel I need to be creating for a reason namely, a successful or not so successful piece. (Okay, let’s be truthful here – I really mean a piece that’s successful everytime!) It’s hard not to worry about messing up and yet as I always tell my student, failure is a good thing!! You grow by learning from things that just don’t work out.
I have that four-letter word up in my studio (given to me by my friend Louise). It’s supposed to remind me to take time to play for heavens sake!
Or should I say:
Okay, that’s more like it.
I haven’t pastelled for what seems like ages, certainly not since making my last YouTube video and that almost doesn’t count. I’m working diligently on my next online course and that’s taken me away from studio time. So today, inspired by McKeown’s chapter on Play, I went into the studio for some playtime – to have fun with colour and the feel of pastel on paper. And I decided to photograph the process so I could show you the outcome. (Of course it was hard NOT to think that there would be an outcome considering I was going to write a blog on the process but I just kept saying, Play Gail, Play!)
So let me take you through my play today.
Here are a couple close-ups:
And the pastels I used:
This was tremendous fun. I got wrapped up in the colour, the mark-making, and trying to make the piece speak. I also began to think about how the viewer’s eye moved through the piece and how to make that flow more easily. I think play is a lot about letting go, of following intuition and desire.
Do you play when you paint? Or are you always thinking of the outcome? What do you think of the importance of play in terms of art-making? I’d love to hear your thoughts around play.
Thanks for joining me on this playful journey 🙂
Until next time,
PS. Click here a great little video of Greg McKeown talking about Essentialism.
PPS. Here’s the book I was telling you about that has a chapter on the importance of play in our lives:
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