How to Free Your Mind to Paint

Have you ever thought of a beautiful place or time that maybe once existed or a place that you kind of pieced together that doesn't really exist outside of your mind?

Thinking of it or creating it relaxes your mind and makes you happier.  It's harder and harder to be creative as we age.  During childhood, creativity is so abundant because of our innocence, lack of harsh life experiences and the belief that anything is possible.

As adults, we become jaded and cynical.  We forget about the magical things in life and the things that remind us of being young and warm hearted again.

Some people forget how to smile and have fun, how to use their creativity.

Never be one of those people.  Exercise your creativity the way you exercise for your body's health or the way you exercise your technical skills at work.

One of my favorite ways to decompress after a long day is by listening to music.  Think of your stress relief, and think of its beauty.  Think about how you have been feeling lately, and what kind of painting you wish you could have to capture your stress relief.

So today, I was listening to my music in my car with the windows rolled down on my way home from work. I was listening to one of my favorite songs by Tom Petty called Wildflowers.  You know how it is.  The sun paints the trees gold, and you feel the cool air swirl through your hair.  You smile and think about what you love.

That song is nostalgic for me, and it reminds me of the simpler days of my childhood, and how much I long for the world to fall in love with face to face interaction and nature again

This song always makes me think about the first days of summer when I was a little girl in Germany. I would stare up at a blue sky while I was nestled in tall grass.

Years before teenagers would have cellphones, let alone kids.  Years ago when we knew summer started because we saw blackberries grow by the cow pasture, and we would talk by looking each other in the eye and laughing.  By looking at the stars or at the creek.  By watching dust swirl on the dirt roads.

When we knew what time it was by watching the sun, hearing the church bells ring, or just by watching the street lamps light up against a dark blue sky that just cleared away a pink and orange sunset.

I often think of that time period in a very warm, longing light.  I decided I would paint it, and here's how I did it (by the way, I suggest adding two drops of water to each paint color you use for a natural/watercolor look):

Step 1: Color/Scheme: Choose your background color or scheme, and apply that color with random strokes.  I painted the sky, so I wanted the texture to seem patchy and natural.  This kind of painting lets your mind get into a natural state, so it feels more free.

Step 2: Add large details:  I added clouds, so I used my finger to dab white paint into a random cloud shape, which is pretty free and natural.  There is no conformation or exact shape, which is the beauty of it.  I then mixed some of my colors to get a goldish white that I randomly added in spots over the clouds to texturize them and create some depth.  

Step 3: Make a statement: So this sun took me forever to paint.  I'm talking like an hour.  We won't go into that, but obviously I felt it was important to take a lot of time on it lol So I used white as the center since the sun.  I then blended a grayish yellow with the blue in order to capture the light that is faded around the corona of the sun.  I made sure to add gold painted outlined rays to enhance a shining effect.  I ended up putting clock hands on the sun to signify that the sun and other natural factors dictated time- not technology.  

Step 4: Smaller Details and Message: So I painted blades of grass on the sides of the painting in order to give the observer a feeling of lying in the grass and looking up at the sky.  This is a very nostalgic memory of mine as well as a mental safe haven I can see when I close my eyes in times of stress or fear. So this lying on your back view is why the blades are going up towards the sky.  I took a gold paint that isn't opaque and painted it over the blades of grass to reflect the sun shining on them.  If you want to paint text on your painting you can.  Sometimes the less the better, but since my painting was spacious enough, I added Tom Petty's song lyrics that inspired this painting.  

Step 5: Finishing Details: My last details were dandelions.  The official flower of military brats.  The wind carries dandelion pollen all over, and dandelions grow wherever they're planted.  This flower reflects the constant moving and changing I experienced as a child, and the appreciation I have for  the identity, strength and wisdom that this kind of upbringing gave me.

So find that place that makes you happy.  That place that gives you hope and always brings a smile to your face.  Get a little paint on your hands and let your mind free.  It's okay to have fun.  It's life, and you better start living it!

Nicole Guest

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Maira Gall