Recently, I laid out large pieces of watercolor paper all along my kitchen island and invited my eight year old son to participate with me in a laying down watercolor strokes. The idea was to get the brush, water and paint moving to build a collection of marks. These marks would be sifted through to become contenders in my current pattern collection work. Even though there wasn’t a specific plan, I knew we would both learn something. And hopefully have fun and bond at the same time. What I didn’t know was how watercolor helped both of us learn something about patience. Following, are the lessons I gleaned and will share with you on how creative play can teach you patience.
Often I go into a project with a very specific plan and a desired outcome. There is nothing wrong with having a plan, but too much planning and not enough fun is not helpful. This was one of those times when the only outcome was to have a collection of marks on paper.
Having my son with me was a great opportunity to observe his process and learn how it impacted mine. He came into the exercise with a plan and a desired outcome. “I want to create _________.” I said to him, “let’s just have fun”.
And sure enough, what he planned did not happen as the paint and water contacted the paper. He tried to manipulate it but it got worse. Frustration ensued and anger took over.
Scrapping Everything (even the good)
I went over to him and shared what watercolor does and how it has a mind of it’s own. It takes it’s time and moves where it wants.
It is often a good idea to step away from a project especially if we are tempted to scrap it. Coming back with fresh eyes always helps.
Letting go of Control
What was happening to him in those moments mirrored what has happened to me many times over with many different projects. As I heard my words, they were as much for me as they were for him.
“If you want to have fun, you have to let go of controlling what the paint does.”
“The important part is that we are having fun and spending time together.”
When you let go of controlling the outcome, your hand is more free to move and gain muscle memory. It is subtle practice for the work ahead. Even the fun will prove to be useful (even thought it doesn’t have to) down the road in your creative journey.
New skills can come to the surface and be seen with purpose.
WHY is patience important?
You have probably heard that patience is a virtue. And some are naturally gifted with more that others. Patience is one of those life skills that can only grow with time and experience. Here are some of the benefits to your art and your inner world.
- patience gives your creativity room to breath
- patience gives your brain time to process
- practicing patience challenges the inner critic’s lies about the “shoulds” you place on yourself
What does patience give you?
Patience is a giver of many gifts. Which ones has it given you?
- Permission to be gentle with yourself – allow yourself to make mistakes and ask what you can learn from them
- Time to find your style
- It give you permission to try difference mediums
- mindfulness – being fully present in the moment and allowing your senses to guide you
Here’s an example of patience at work. When I decided to sign up for Jennifer Orkin Lewis and Gayle Kabaker’s painting class, I wasn’t prepared for how fun and easy acrylic painting could be. I could throw out the rules I believed about acrylics and just “be”.
What are small ways you can practice patience?
- Make a list of all the ways you can play using your artist supplies.
- Set some time aside in your week to play
- Ask someone to join you in your creative play – that way you can help each other with keeping it light and fun
- Lastly, practice affirming messages daily. Here is a helpful tool to help you practice affirmations specifically for your needs.
As a result of leaning into the fun, playful side of your art, you will learn to trust the process, let go of control and develop patience.
In conclusion, I hope you have gained some insight and helpful tips on how your own creative play can teach you patience. Please share the love with a comment or pin if you liked what you have read. Thank you!