The truth is, “Not much.” I think many artistically inclined people never get started painting because they think, “I don’t have the space, time, or money to paint.” But, that’s just wrong thinking. Instead they should think, “What do I already have that I can use?” Once started, they will find the time they spend learning to paint flies by blissfully. Jane Austen wrote her novels at a desk no bigger than a side table with ink, pen, and paper. I have painted on my lap while perched on some uncomfortable rocks in the fog. Go through your house, see what art supplies you already have, open up a TV tray table and get started.
Recently, I went to the beach with my son for some impromptu fishing and muscle harvesting. I intended to paint the landscape if the tide was high, so I grabbed a few things on my way out the door. Now, I’m an artist with hundreds of dollars worth of supplies ready to go, but my daughter snagged my favorite water color paint set. (I would complain about the theft except that she uses them more than I do and makes beautiful water color paintings). So, I was left to grab paints from a water color paint by number my daughter received years ago, 4 half sheets of left over 9”x12” water color paper, an acrylic clip board, plastic cup, pencil, 2 paper towels, 2 paint brushes and 3 water color pens. I totally forgot a pallet for mixing colors. Oh well.
It was slightly overcast at the beach, which is great in California so you don’t go blind as an artist, and the tide was high so I found a rock and set out to start painting. For some strange reason, a bank of fog rolled in from the ocean so thick I could not see where my car was parked about 30 feet away. So, much for practicing landscape today. I rummaged around in my bag and found an image I printed out from Pinterest. I remember being frustrated because the original site was no longer up so I couldn’t find any instructions for how they created the image, but I liked it enough to print it out anyway and use it for inspiration. Well, I grabbed a CD from my car and ta-da I cranked out 4 paintings. Once the fog cleared out I was able to use the local landscape for inspiration to make the Pinterest artist’s idea my own. Can you tell which paintings I created during the fog and which ones I painted once the fog lifted. LOL. That's real life right there.
Lesson learned: You don’t need everything to be just right to create beautiful art. You just have to be present to the moment and use the supplies at hand. Don’t make excuses for why you can’t make art like, "The fog rolled in." You’re an artist. Fact: if you're human you're a creator, even if you just create messes. Artists are perpetual problem solvers (rummage in your bag, car, wherever, MacGyver the situation). You've got this! Go paint.
Sherry Barrett is an active artist who takes inspiration from great works of literature, historical figures, and wise people.