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Joyful Creative Life Blog Articles
Written & Illustrated by: Tanya J. de Wet

A good reason to play

This is what my inner critic said, just before I slapped her with my flat hand right across the cheek: "When I'm trying to be a serious Artist, there is no time to play, good heavens, where will I find the time!"

The inner critic was wrong! If I had access to a cheek to slap, I'd probably not do it for real, but my creative unreasonable self would wish that we could. To play in your Artists Journals & Sketchbook is one of the best practices you could nurture as an Artist, especially the ones who believe that it's a waste of time.

While I started out as an aspiring student Artist in the earlier years, I was completely fascinated with the different brush marks a paint brush could make. The paint would blob and purse past the sides when I pressed it hard into the surface. The colours, mixing on the page like they belonged together... What was this magical thing happening with the paintbrush in my hand. Not knowing what to paint in the beginning, I would dunk the brush in the paint and sweep it across the page just to see how the colours used each other like best friends, sometimes making "mud" that nobody liked. Then, on many occasions it seemed the marks would look like something. Some larger pieces reflected their likeness to a fantasy landscape into my eyes, the others where faces behind trees... What was this fabulous thing happening on the paper?

This tree was painted in Gouache in a Hand Crafted Sketchbook during my 2017 Creative explorations of trees & colour. If I recall correctly, this was from a photo I took while we visited the Kruger National Park, South Africa a few years earlier. It was 46 degrees Celsius that afternoon according to the picture I took of the car's dashboard just after the beautiful tree made it's appearance on our drive at sunset.

On the days I didn't paint, I heard a faint sound that called out my name. You know, that beckoning, pleading sound that draws you away from everything you planned to do. I'm not talking about the Procrastinator, instead it was the art waiting to be created. Still having a sense of duty to everything and everyone, I could easily ignore the calling and walk away. Until one morning, I woke up just after 4:30 am, bright eyed and excited about something and at that very moment didn't realise this was the intimate beginning of surrender to the call. It seems such a long time ago and yet, it also feels much the same as when I had a million ideas waiting to burst forth. From that first early rise, I've been up and ready to paint, draw and create at least 6 days of every week. No wonder friends choke when I say: "I sleep in 'till about 6-ish on a Sunday." What get's me is the amount of time we have to create and make the best of our lives. Am I the only one feeling there's just not enough of it and every now moment brings me to the real eye opening thankfulness that another moment has been added to my life. Another twinkle in time wherein a captured something on paper, seemingly wanted to be brought into this world by my hand.

As playing with colour in my plain paper drawing books, I would imagine myself being a wonderful Artist. Even as those first pages filled, I found it surprising how natural it felt to work with colour, shapes, marks and later adding different mediums and substrates to my pages. The appearance of inspired visual effects felt more like a journey of discovering another side of my creativity. I was learning at an unabridged rate, creating with extended talents the very objects that called me before. I did not let anyone see what I painting at first, simply because I tried every pretty picture in the pages of my Sketchbooks, following tutorials, discovering marks, playing with colours and most of all, figuring out what it was I liked about being creative. One day at a group art class I attended on a Saturday morning, my teacher asked me if I have been taking other art classes besides that one. I said: "No, not classes, but I have filled a Sketchbook with some paint." Needless to say, I was asked to bring the Sketchbooks along when I came to class again.

Describing my state as nerve wrecking was an underestimated notation! It was worse than waiting for exam final results. As he paged through the my Sketchbook, I remember a numbing feeling with an explosive heart-rate filling my heart & my chest. Throughout the whole page through, he didn't utter a single word. I didn't know what to expect as the paint and stuff in the sketchbook wasn't "art" (according to me) and I was afraid that he would think so too. I stood next to him, thinking to myself what the heck am I so tense about? That is my Sketchbook and I loved every single page in it. Several aching moments later, he peeped out over his spectacles and asked me if I liked working in my Sketchbook? Well, "Yes, I had allot of fun and I didn't feel pressurised to produce a fine art piece & it was akin to letting go on paper with an abundance of creativity pouring out onto the sheets. Before I knew it, there was only 7 pages left in the book & I filled both sides of every page!" In a way, I thought that I might get reprimanded for wasting a whole Sketchbook on exploration and experiments. Instead, he looked kind of pleased, although I had no inkling of what he was thinking at the time. I wanted to find more validation for the time I spend messing around in my Sketchbook, explaining how I learned to mix on the page and discovered how to tone down colours directly from the palette. I was rambling like a fool trying to cover up a colour orgasm! I felt really nervous in anticipation of what he was about to say. And then he uttered the following words: "My dear, you have inspired me to be more loose and expressive in the pursuit of my own creativity. Our Art future is looking up to aspiring Artist like you. I've been feeling off kilter stiff lately, completely uninspired by my lack of enthusiasm for colour. Would you mind if I showed this page to the class?" He pointed to an abstract flower in black and white with a hint of jade on one of the double spreads. "The group can benefit greatly from an inspiring piece like that." Then he turned to the group and flashed my Sketchbook to each one there. I was stunned and near tears, as I couldn't contain the overwhelm I felt by this beautiful gesture and the compliments of that moment.

I walked on clouds for days to come and to this day keep a daily Sketchbook of all my ideas that I call "pre-canvas warm-ups" and "creative play dates with my paint. By constantly working on my quest for an understanding of this gift of creativity I've received. To me, it's the pure self-discovery of new ways to be creative that comes naturally and almost automatically. I'll be instantly inspired by a sound, an article, a story, a single flower or an even a deteriorating receipt on the asphalt, simply because this glorious creative spark is always turned on. In those instances, I appreciate my love for my Sketchbooks as I'll almost always have one with. There is no place I couldn't draw, paint, create, expand or elaborate on, as long as I had my imagination & creativity with me (which I always will have) a reference image may not even be necessary when inspiration came around. Even then, I could easily draw on a receipt or the back of a box or even a brown paper shopping bag. I just love exploring all possibilities and making the best of every inspiring moment as it happens.

In the short video below, I'm sharing the email of an Angel who reached out to me after discovering my Sketchbook Blossoms Workshop. If someone in the ripe mature, sixty nine year age group can discover her creativity in one of my Workshops, then you too could be inspired to discover yours. Feel free to share the video and the link below the video to receive it at the reduced price during October 2020. You'll have an Angel to thank for it, as my new Creative Friend inspired me to make it available to more creative people.

"My dearest Artist,

Today, I am extending a hand to you and gifting you with unabridged permission to fill as many Sketchbooks with as many marks, shapes and colours as you wish, in the pursuit of developing your imagination & creativity to the fullest at every occasion. Just take a few minutes a day or an hour if you want and play in your Art Journal/Art Sketchbook or loose sheet of paper and do it often, you are allowed to explore.



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