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Encouragement is Empowerment

Updated: Jul 27, 2021

A couple of years back, a dear friend gave me a gift card for an artist supply store for a birthday present. I thought, "How random! ". You see, I hadn't painted since I was 15, and I was well past that. I wondered what had inspired her to give that gift, then.

Weirdly enough, I had renovated my bedroom, and the new sliding doors meant I had rearranged the furniture. This made me ponder a pair of walls with space on them. I don't remember voicing my musings to my friend, but I had begun to dream of putting a painting on the wall above my bedhead, and a mirror on the wall opposite, so I could see the picture from my bed. I had been dreaming of painting that picture myself.

My dreams had been of me painting!

That gift card from my friend purchased a big canvas, and I had fun painting; something that I'd never really experienced before. Sure, I did art at school, but my teacher was into "found art", which involved collecting rubbish and making "art" out of it. Not my thing. She also painted frogs, lots of frogs, and her paintings were incredibly mono-dimensional. Art critics would probably describe her works as "naïve". Again, not my thing.

For my Year 10 final assignment, I had to produce a painting. I don't remember that teacher ever showing me anything about technique. I started to paint my assignment, and never finished. I remember it was a self-portrait from behind, and I was looking out to sea. It was a great concept, but I had no idea how to articulate it using paint. My teacher was always too busy to answer my questions; and so I was no wiser. I never painted again.

In high school, I remember drawing portraits of my friends. They'd happily and patiently sit for me, and I'd draw using pen or pencil; presenting it to them to their glee. I've drawn, occasionally, but not for the purpose of honing a craft. So, that gift card really was "random"!

I got the canvas and some acrylic paints, and started what was an ambitious project. The canvas was huge. If my attempts failed, it would be a massive waste of money and time (and mess). The picture wasn't exactly how I imagined it, but it turned out okay. I called it "Sleeping Body Island" because there was a beautiful peaceful sea in the foreground, and an island that looked like a person sleeping on their tummy on the horizon, all under a lovely sky with angel clouds whisping by.

Some time later, I watched Moana on TV, and was brought to tears near then end, when the main characters found Te Fiti. You see, I look at that film as loosely based on one of my ancestors, Moana Ariki (who, together with another ancestor, Kupe, discovered the West coast of New Zealand, Aotearoa). It's one of those fictionalised legend stories - Te Fiti in the film, I think, represents Tahiti, one of the many Polynesian communities of the Pacific. Anyhow, I was watching the movie, and a scene panned out to a picture very similar to the one I painted. I won't spoil the end of the movie for you (go ahead, watch and enjoy), but I got a psychic call from my ancestors through that painting of mine! It made me weep happy tears.

Another friend, again quite randomly, gave me watercolour pencils. I had no idea how to use them (I still have no idea). I wanted to paint them both a picture to say thank you, and struggled with the productions. Below, are some of my first watercolour efforts - "Two of a Kind", "Archie", and "Spirit Animals".

I'm still being encouraged to paint, and I've started looking for beginner classes for when I finish jury duty in July. Although I'm not as inspired to paint as I am to write, I think that my muses will increase in number as my ability improves. It's not about making something to sell; it's about allowing something in my soul to play.

So, I have to say, thanks for the empowerment and the playtime!

I'd also like to pass on the encouragement. How do you know if you're talented or not, if you don't give something a go? How do you know if you're truly capable of expertise, if you don't try classes and practising?

I'm really looking forward to starting a class, and if you're keen to join me (in Newcastle!!), why not drop me a line and we'll team up? I've just started a couple of online communities on this website (download the mobile app and join for free), so that might be a nice way to find some like-minded souls to join you, wherever you are.

Enjoy your playtime!!


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