Art for when you need to be patient

I live in the United States, and today, we have an election (I doubt that’s news to you, I see from many overseas friends much awareness of everything going on here!). Normal presidential elections cause much fuss, but this one isn’t normal, just as almost everything about 2020 has been abnormal (or Abby Normal, if you just celebrated Halloween like I did by watching Young Frankenstein). Virtually anything art is a great choice if you’re trying to practice patience. It’s fairly engrossing, so you get lost in time, requires a choose-your-own-adventure level of concentration so you can low-key multitask or low-key silent retreat, and with appropriate constraints, will turn out great, so pack up that perfectionism and shove it out the door (along with your pre-results anxiety, while you’re at it!).

The Process

I have an aversion to 1) ‘wasting’ art supplies and 2) BLANK SPACE, so I set myself this only constraint: fill up this paper with the color meditations I’ve already learned, and maybe free form one or two along the way. My paper is Canson Watercolor paper 11×15 inches, 140 lbs (I don’t know what this means other than ‘thicker’). My paints are my Reeves gouache set that I bought in… 2016? AND NEVER USED UNTIL THIS YEAR (remember #1, I HOARD ART SUPPLIES it’s a problem I’m working on it…).

My first color meditation was dots, seen on the side. Then I used the paint in my palette to try one of the color meditations I’d learned but hadn’t started yet-stacks. For that one, I only used four paints-red, blue, white and black, and I mixed little by little to try to make a stack of tints and shades along the red-blue side of the color wheel.

  • Two shades of yellow to demonstrate the variety in even a limited palette.
  • Having fun filling up blank paper with color.

So this is a post about patience, and well, the columns take time. And I was getting tired of using up all my gouache (ok so it’s still a struggle). So I made the next section different by first using watercolors and second, by doing different color meditations. First, I surrounded a couple triangles with stacks, then I improvised a bunch of triangles just for fun. I did the circle yesterday, using the leftover, and dried, watercolor pigment left on my palette. That’s why it’s not as vibrant as before. I was being stingy with my art supplies.

Watercolors provide a fun translucent contrast to the opaqueness of the gouache.

This all happened between Sunday, yesterday, and finally today I went back to do another column and make myself use more gouache 😆 .

  • Slowly, slowly, I'm filling up the Big Blank Space


So this post is about finding ways to be patient. I can be patient with myself, with my art, with my paint, with my (admittedly cheap and unruly) brushes, with my toddler (naptime was short so he “helped” me with that last column :lol:). I can be patient with myself because I see that I really do have some self-work to do in letting go and making something colorful. I can be patient with my scarcity mindset and give thanks for the little bits of progress I DO make in attacking it. I can be patient with the lopsided stacks and running paints and not really knowing what tools are best for the job (seriously, I’m just trying things out and that’s ok! You don’t need to have the “right” materials or process to just start). I can be patient with the time it will realistically take me to fill that paper. And the best part, is it all helps me be more patient waiting for election results.

Patience and anxiety are basically water and oil. It’s virtually impossible to be patient when anxiety is taking over. That’s why I cannot commend enough to you finding something to help you pass the time when life seems stressful and completely out of control. The happy surprises that happen are a strong antidote to anxiety and good practice for when you face difficult situations and don’t have a palette of paint to distract you. I have a number of creative pursuits, but I like painting especially because of the obvious lack of control I have over it. Whatever you choose, bonus points* if it brings you closer to God and others.

 By contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.  

Galatians 5:22-23a

* there are no bonus points. It’s not a thing and I’m being silly. It only makes a difference if it makes a difference to you. 🙂

He was very helpful cleaning up! My paint palette and his. So sweet.

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