• Jaime

Art, for grief's sake.

So this is my first post.

Hi, internet.

Blogging has always seemed really intimidating to me, but since I'm expanding my business to include more heartfelt artistic discussion, I think it's high time I write something. So here it goes.

We have all experienced some level of pain in our lives. The aftermath hums around the community like an anxious undercurrent, 'How do I live with this new reality?' 'How do we cope with this loss?' 'How do I shake this feeling?'

Well, I don't have the end-all-be-all answer, but I DO have a helpful tool that has allowed me to expel unwanted emotions so I can move on with my day. That helpful tool? Art! Yeah yeah, I know, big surprise.

Now, before you leave with a "whatever, Jaime, you're just saying this because you're an artist," let me explain myself further.

I am not talking about making a manicured fresco of Christ himself with his palms bleeding for your sins for you to pray under. I'm also not saying it needs to be an earthshattering depiction of anything at all. Actually, it's better if it's ugly. Because, dear reader, I am talking about...

Finger painting.

That's right. Finger painting.

You might be asking yourself what kind of nightmarish child's psychology book I just climbed out of, but I can promise you that messily painting with your fingers (or a brush if you can't get behind having a bit of paint under your nails) is one of the most therapeutic exercises I have come across- especially for big, unruly emotions. The kind of emotions that weigh you down or make you feel like you might crawl right out of your skin. Emotions that are inky and toxic, that seep into other areas of thought making your brain a dark and dismal place. Finger painting allows you to direct those emotions out through your fingers. As you point your consciousness at the dark entity that has taken up residence in your brain, you visualize it slowly dripping out of your fingertips and mixing with the paint as you smear it around the canvas. You can ascribe each stroke a different name. "This stroke is guilt.." etc., and imagine that part of the emotion coming to rest in the smudge of paint, it's new forever home.

These paintings are rarely pretty, and that's kind of the point. Deep, painful emotions usually aren't, so how could you expect to rid yourself of that emotion by painting a sunny beach scene of a child making a sandcastle with their dog? I guess maybe if Cluthlu was rising from the waves, ready to devour them... But do you see my point?

In this practice, you will benefit from relinquishing one thing: your reputation. When I chat with people who don't consider themselves artists, they often say, "I never make anything cool" "No one would want to keep it, I don't even like it." "It's really frustrating/embarrassing and not worth it." This all stems from a fear of being inadequate and embarrassing yourself.

I don't know how many times I have to say this, but ART IS NOT ABOUT MONEY OR OTHER PEOPLE, OKAY? I'm not sure who put the thought into everyone's heads that art's only value is monetary, but it's just not true.

Sure, once you become proficient you can put your skills to work in a bunch of different fields, but you have to be willing to suck for a while and learn different techniques before expecting some version of outrageous success. Most artists create because they have a need to relate to themselves, and it becomes an obsession. Art, as I know it, is at first a wholely selfish endeavor, AND THAT'S OKAY.

We are often taught in our society that selfishness is bad and that our worth is based upon what other people think of us. Well, art doesn't fit in that social norm, and thank goodness it doesn't. Most artists are unique, weird and 100% themselves because they have unlocked the key to authenticity - claiming your own self-worth.

So, I ask that you keep that in mind as you are trying out this new coping skill. Not one single person's opinion matters. This is for you, and you alone. Hell, really it's for that emotion, that creature knawing away at your sanity. You're shaking the emotional demon right out of your fingertips. You are building them a home made of paint and dirt and glitter and whatever else you want to throw in to make sure it leaves you. You are consciously choosing to expel it. And you will feel better for it.

Don't believe me? Try it.

Now you might be wondering what you are supposed to do with this offputting amalgam once you've created it. This is up to you. I personally find it very difficult to let go of these right away. I have been known to lug them around for years. They sometimes feel like a time capsule, alive in their own way. I often find a new understanding in them later in life, and eventually reach a point where I can forgive it and release it. Sometimes I'll give them away if it comes out pretty good and someone shows a significant interest. Sometimes I burn them if it feels right, or paint over them, or just toss them in the trash (though that is rare). The ending of the painting is up to you.

I'm thinking of making this my first workshop once I am moved into the larger shop. I think it would be really great to come together and get messy, even if it's just to let loose and be a kid for a while.

What do you think?

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