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Why bother learning to paint?

Paint is a material substance, it has body and behaviour, learning how it handles connects us not only with our bodies but to the calm quiet reality of the concrete world.

As our flesh manipulates the pigments a shimmering tracery of bio electrical signals seethes up the nerves and fibres of our organism to the neural octopus that occupies our head.

Observational painting and drawing, once learnt, is a mechanical process; like driving a car, it does not make a great deal of demand upon the conscious mind or intellect but it does engage our attention completely; using, as it does, the eye, the hand and in between, the entire chain of perception. Some of us find this quite therapeutic.

Which is not to say that mind does not get involved, because of course it does. There is an aspect of the mind which enjoys being the author of all that we do, the posturing mountebank who takes ownership of our successes and despairs at our failures; the one who is ready with a judgement but rubbish at art and frankly, needs to know when to step aside and allow the quiet artist within, the space to do what it will.

When that occurs – and it usually does after painting for a while –  there is a peculiar balance which pertains, there is a connection with reality and everything is in it’s rightful place. It might be seen that the physical world ‘out there’ is not separate from the inner world of self. Our paintings become a record not only of our visual perception but also of our experience of ourselves which makes better paintings and contributes positively to our self knowledge.

Good enough reasons to learn how to paint.