Color Me Happy


Growing up, art class was my favorite subject, right up there with recess and lunch. I had private art lessons in high school and minored in art in college. Then because I thought I was smarter than the average bear…I got married at 20. Babies started arriving when I was 22. Amazing how much destruction a rambunctious toddler can do with a tube of oil paint in 30 seconds.

I didn’t try my hand at painting again until I was 50. My production of art was sporadic at best. It seemed just as I was settled and had created a niche studio in my home, boom…life said it was time to move again. I moved 22 times between ages 20-50. So not only did I always lose at least one tube of Winsor & Newton paint per move, hauling my not-ready-for-prime-time works around literally became a drag. A lot was lost along the way. Such is life.

But it was during the pandemic that I did two things. Upon arriving in my new home, I dedicated an entire wall to my paintings. I established one room as my creative space. And as a result, I not only have more reason and space to paint, I have even started painting on commission. Painting is a mini-taycation for me. I get wonderfully lost inside color and shapes.

The time I had to stay home with social distancing has been just what I needed to get in the mood to dabble. My studio has one wall of muted light. It makes everything so easy. And in my kitchen, I have a large breakfast bar that seats six, with a sky light. It doubles as a painting table if the projects are over four feet across.

If you once painted and have not done so in years, I suggest you find a small sketchpad and start doodling. Do not share this unless you want to. Another thing I started doing is bringing a small set of watercolors and a 3” X 5” watercolor pad with me on hikes or drives. I often take photographs of something I like and use the watercolors to try to catch the colors and light.

If you are rusty or have never painted, you can go online and watch artists. (Bob Ross will get you started.) Start anywhere, but just start. Also, you can usually find continuing education classes in beginner drawing and painting. If you live hours from the nearest resources, go to your local library and look for books on how to paint or draw. Ask your librarian for ideas, videos, websites, or online courses.

When I paint, my husband knows he is on his own for dinner…and maybe breakfast, since I am most creative at two a.m. I go into a creative zone. I might start six different paintings. Doing multiple works keeps me from overthinking and overworking a project. One of the hardest things about painting is to know when to put the brush down. Sort of like knowing when to stop the lecture with a teenager. Overkill is antiproductive in both cases.

But creating works of creativity is not limited to paint. You can work in torn paper montages, clay, or fabric art. Have you seen how far simple patchwork quilting has come? They have room size computer driven quilting machines. How much fun is that?

Don’t worry if you can’t draw a straight line. Straight lines are boring. Perfect circles are overrated. Just start creating anything that pleases you. From potholders to wall murals, grab some paint and express yourself.

Sally Franz and her third husband live on the Olympic Peninsula. She has two daughters, a stepson, and three grandchildren. Sally is the author of several humor books including Scrambled Leggs: A Snarky Tale of Hospital Hooey and The Baby Boomer’s Guide to Menopause

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