Painting is like believing in a miracle. Almost like buying a lottery ticket. Think about it…
Most days I go about my life, my business, as usual. I sleep in too late and don’t have time to eat breakfast before I go to work. I get to work and roll my eyes at email notifications, trudge through the mundane routine tasks, find a few moments to sneak in time for coffee and a breakfast snack. I hang on for dear life until I can get to lunch. I go through the lunch motions of eating something reasonably healthy and pretending like I enjoy it. I engage in banter with my colleagues; and after lunch, tick tock, I count down the minutes until I leave for home. Finally, home I flop on my couch and convince myself that my life is stressful and that my job is unbearable. I waste away on social media telling myself it is a coping mechanism to escape the treachery of my life and swipe enviously through the fabulous Instagram lives of people I’ve never met and who probably don’t really exist. Every Monday through Friday I day dream of a life I don’t have and wait on the weekend to arrive so that I can finally LIVE! But when Saturday arrives, there isn’t anymore living then there was at any other point of the week. There is laundry and housework and bill paying. DIY projects litter my house chasing Pinterest posts of what my home might finally look like when, one day, it is perfect despite the facts that there is never quite enough time, money, or skill to get my home to that point of perfection.
This is true monotony.
Typically, I don’t pay attention to the lottery. I would rather drive around my hometown with a sack of twenties in my passenger seat and my windows down—at least the local economy could benefit from me throwing money away. However, occasionally the jackpot gets to some ridiculous number, and like everyone else in the world, I think…why not? I drop ten dollars on the local convenience store counter for a ticket, too. I like to buy my ticket as early in the jackpot frenzy as possible. From the point I purchase the ticket right up until the drawing, I get to believe I have a chance to win. I get to live in the hopeful dreamscape of what my life could be like. I could build my two-story, white clapboard home with a wraparound porch, backyard fire pit, and Pinterest-perfect furnishings. I do like my day job, but I think it would be more fitting for me if it was volunteer work—with $400 million I think I could confidently quit and still be able to make ends meet. However, I don’t see myself as being the type to while away my time in idleness. I think perhaps I would open one of those shops where people pick out an unpainted ceramics piece, glaze it, and then the shop fires it for them. I believe in diversification, so the shop would have a deli counter to order a sandwich and a gallery upstairs to feature the work of local artists. I could build the life for myself that I was too young to see so many years ago and too afraid to invest in now in my middle years when I feel I have too much to lose if the venture falls apart. This week the Powerball jackpot is hovering around $400 million and I have already bought my ticket.
For two more days, I get to romanticize hope.
Painting lets me romanticize hope, too.
An adventure in paint typically starts with me skipping out of work exactly on time on a day when I have a little extra money in the bank. I go the long way home and stop at the craft store on the way. I slowly browse the fine art aisles touching all the little jars of texture mediums, staring at the tubes of paint letting the colors seep into my consciousness, and calculate what size canvas I can afford to spread my new art supplies around on. I am never so nice to a cashier as I am to the ones at the craft store—they are my co-conspirators on the adventure I’m so close to being able to unwrap. I drive a little faster home than I do on a normal day. No flopping on the couch on this day—there is adventure and life on the horizon. My cats love craft store days: bags, plastic, paper, and receipts all strewn through the living room creating a new playground for them while I’m too occupied with my new prospect to bother with them. The blank canvas and smell of dried gesso is just like buying my lottery ticket. While working a piece, I get to romanticize the coming together of creativity, meaning, composition, color, and texture. Each brush strokes moves with the fluidity of hope that this new work will be well-received by the artistic community. It could be the canvas that opens doors to galleries for my work. This piece could mean acceptance. It could mean a new life where creativity becomes my profession.
By no stretch of my imagination do I believe my art work will ever fetch lottery size jackpots, but the hope and promise are the same. At the end of the artistic adventure, it is never about the money, or the job, or the Pinterest-perfection. It is always about hope. People are fueled by hope and you must chase your hope in whatever way you can.