This article is by Moshe Mikanovsky, Regular contributing writer for FineArtViews. An emerging artist searching his way in the art world, he loves to share what he learns. With over 20 years of technology experience, Moshe combines his technological background and his passion for the arts with the goal of "working his dream". You should submit an article and share your views as a guest author by clicking here.
In a recent flight I took with Delta airlines, I read in the in-flight Delta's Sky magazine an interesting article about the importance of play. Based on studies and expert matters, the article portrayed the basic need of humans to play, how unlike other species, our sense of play never ends in maturity, and the importance of continuing to play.
The article quotes Stuart Brown, a medical doctor, psychiatrist and founder of the Camel Vally, California-based National Institute for Play, from his 2009 book Play: How It Shapes the Brain, Opens the Imagination, and Invigorates the Soul, who says: "the opposite of play is not work. The opposite of play is depression". He then highlights a few key properties to define "play": "Play is something done for its own sake; it's voluntary; there's an inherent attraction to it; the player experiences a kind of freedom from time and perhaps loses track of his or her own self; it's open to improvisations; and finishing it leaves one wanting to do more".
Doesn't that sound familiar?
As artists, we have all said it many times. We would have done it even if we were not paid to do it because it is part of who we are. We do it for its own sake. We lose track of time and of our own self. We are free to do whatever we want with our materials, even break the rules. We improvise new ideas and new techniques. And we always want to do more.
If we merge these attributes of play into our art making, they will become one unit, unseperated from each other.
And the benefits? As Brown states it, "denying our need to play can have negative effects on our emotional well-being".
So how do we regain this sense of play if we lose track of it?
Here are some ideas:
1. Paint (or make any other type of art) with some kids. Kids are amazing since their entire life is in a play mode. They explore everything in new eyes, and by "working" with them, you will find new ways to play. Don't have any kids? Why not volunteer or teach some?
2. Set a habit for once a week to make art for no reason. Not for an upcoming show or to sell. Just because.
3. Improvise by taking one known factor out of the picture. For example, use new material, or paint a new subject matter. If you always paint at your studio, get out and paint outside. Don't worry about the results, just have fun with it and improvise with the "missing" factor.
4. Observe how you feel before, during and after you have a working session. Ask yourself, do you look forward to it or are you anxious about it? Do you forget yourself in the process? Do you have a taste for more when the session is over? If the answer to all of these are yes (but no to the anxiety part), then you are on the right track. If not, see what is it that you can, and should, change. Set time to paint on a regular basis, try the above suggestions to loosen up, or just come up with your ideas. In many cases, you already know the answer.
So what are you waiting for? Go play!