The creation of something new is not accomplished by the intellect but by the play instinct acting from inner necessity. The creative mind plays with the objects it loves. ~Carl Jung
I’m not an artist by any stretch of the imagination. I just like to play in paint. So much so that using a paint brush, as I found out with this last piece, is too much work. It takes all the fun out of getting messy. Me? I prefer painting with my hands. Sometimes I’ll use a sponge. But I decided to try oil paints. Finger painting is not recommended. I like my skin the way it is. So, I used a brush for the detailed parts, then reverted to a sponge for the garden. I enjoyed my playing so much that I ended up using both acrylics and oils without even knowing. I just wasn’t paying attention.
Painting is my play, reconnecting with a child who loved to get dirty and create whimsical images that break the monotony of reality. Although, I’m sure that’s not how I would have described it as a kid. I just liked pretty things. My pretty things.
In hindsight, I don’t remember myself as a particularly playful child. I’d have to say that I’m far more playful now, perhaps living a second childhood. I play at work. It’s actually my job to play with children who have autism. We make up games, paint, sing, dance. Whatever strikes the mood. Jaz and I play constantly. Don’t ask about the water fight we had yesterday. I paint.
I also write. There was a time period when I worried about my writing. Whether or not it would ever be published. Whether or not I should continue wasting my time. Was I reaching for stars too far out of reach. Wondering what people thought who I’d proclaimed to be a writer but never published.
I lost my sense of play. Don’t worry. It’s back. For the goal of writing, or painting, or sculpting, or photography, should never be about the value to the the external world. Creative endeavors should only serve as a connection to ourselves. The little girl, or boy, who still likes to play.
Whoever wants to understand much must play much. ~Gottfried Benn
Through play, children grow an understanding of the world, how it operates, and their place in it. Why should we outgrow that curiosity, to conform to the upright, stoic adulthood that’s expected of us?
I spent the day playing in paint to finish this broken butterfly. Tonight, I play with what I love. The pulling at the strings of words that got tangled to create something pretty. My pretty words. I’m looking forward to finishing this short story so that I can return to the novel I set aside last year, Itsy’s Ugly. With some time off, I’ve discovered what the story needed to be authentic. I played with it in my mind. It needs to be more playful. Whimsical. More like a fairy tale.
There is an element to play that involves passion. When I die, I hope I will have lived to earn the words “She lived with passion”carved on my gravestone. Passion for life, mind you, not money or success or power. Just passion for curiosity and discovery and joy. If I have to leave a legacy, may I leave a legacy of passion.
Some day you will be old enough to start reading fairy tales again. ~C.S. Lewis
I wish for all of you to be old enough to read fairy tales, and play, today.