The Liberating Joy of Paint Play

I filmed a video today, but had such fun creating these pages last night, I just had to post. 


While I’ve sat down to create backgrounds and paintings, I’ve never simply sat down to play with paint. Instead of being bright and blending things together, I decided to draw shapes, lines, swirls, scallops, and add a little collage. 


It was so liberating

I used to mix all my colors with titan buff or beige paint, muting them to vintage-like shades. I was the queen of pale pink and blue and green, of harmonious tones that looked like they’d been filtered by Earlybird on Instagram (a vintage, gold-layer filter). I slowly grew out of this, my colors brightening as my style morphed and changed. 


But for some reason, I was suddenly inspired last night to lay down several colors on one page, then another, then another, allowing myself to express thoughts and ideas in a new way. At least one new to me


I knew I was channeling a few artists as I worked, and maybe that’s where the initial spark came from; I’ve been ruminating on Austin Kleon’s new book, How to Steal Like an Artist. He recently posted a collection of twenty quotes that didn’t make it into the book, and one stuck out to me as something many of us practice but no one admits to. So I will. 

“If you think a man draws the type of hands you want to draw, steal them. Take those hands.” - Jack Kirby

Just visit a journaling group on Flickr or Pinterest or browse blogs, and you’ll see this. And this is how we learn. After three pages and a few hours of play, I realized that’s exactly what I was doing — picking and choosing the bits I liked created by other artists in the interest of Paint Play — so I moved on an flinched a few bits from one of my favorite artists, Carissa Paige (I even tagged her on Instagram to let her know that’s exactly what I was doing!). 


Do I care that I wasn’t being 100% original? Not really. I had such a great time. I love the pages I’ve started, the new things I’ve learned about myself, new ways I’ve figured to move my brush. I’ve re-kindled my love of muted colors, and hope to integrate them with my bright, lovely colors. I don’t know if they can peacefully co-exist on the same journal page, but I’m ready to try. 


Journaling is allowing yourself the freedom to take a chance and possibly fail. 

But you just might succeed. 

So your task this week is to say, screw it, open your journal, and do something you’ve always wanted to try but never thought would work. Or you would be looked down on for attempting. Or feel bad for copying. I give you permission. Good artists imitate. Great artists steal and make it their own. 


I’m sure these pages, while using a different color palette — one I haven’t used for awhile — will look entirely my own when I finish with layers of collage, drawing, and writing, and I can’t wait to see how they turn out. 

Excitement and discovery like this is exactly why I love keeping an art journal.