Lately I’ve been noticing how greatly my art has changed in the last year or so. It is a transformation I never thought I would see, but one that I am really loving.

I used to be very detail-oriented when working on any piece. Whatever I was creating had to follow a set of perfectionist rules in my mind. I believed art had to be done in an immaculate way – perfect colors, perfect shapes, perfect composition. I thought art had to look realistic in order to be successful. For many years I was under the impression that to be an artist my art had to impress to people I felt were more important, or better artists, than me.

Yet here I am, now working on totally abstract pieces and wondering why I ever was so hard on myself before. Here I am, not caring about perfect rules or colors. I no longer care about making something look as if it is a photograph. I am not concerned with impressing anyone other than myself.

I suffer from a chronic disease and this past summer was a particularly rough one for me in terms of my health. I wasn’t really up for making art at all. I began to feel better around the time school was beginning. I began the school year with fresh paints and bare canvases, ready to make art. Maybe it’s because of the rough summer I had, but I began creating art that was solely for me. I just wanted to express the chaos that was living within my mind and body. After creating one piece so freely, then another, I realized I was doing just what I’m majoring in. Art was truly my therapy and so I continued on making art this way. I chose colors that appealed to me in the moment, used my body to guide my hand movements, spread ink wherever I pleased. I was almost always happy with the end results.

This new type of art making has also helped me tremendously in another way, besides being very therapeutic for myself. It has taught me to never give up on a piece. When I was too hard on myself, so easily frustrated if I wasn’t getting something “exactly right”, there were times when I completely gave up on a work. In the last few months I have pushed through and persevered on all my pieces. There have been quite a few times where I started and greatly disliked a piece. Instead of scrapping it, I put away the brushes, stopped looking at it, and went back to it weeks later to finally finish it. These pieces are some of the ones I adore the most because in my mind I can see the many versions they were before the final layer was placed on top… which makes me think of myself. Ever-changing.

I think that I have found the most important art for me. After all, I do not plan to grow up to be an artist. I want to be an art therapist. My future field is all about the emotion that art can evoke, the way it serves as a mode of expression. In the last few months my art making has been very true to my future career and it has made my heart feel so happy and free. Art is no longer something that causes me any stress – no matter how sloppy my colors may be, if they make me smile then they are beautiful. If my piece makes me feel something, then it can make someone else feel something too.

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