I hated painting 1 year ago-- So why do I love it now?


Upon my graceful entrance to the small Fine Arts department in the university I attended, I had one goal: master drawing.

Honestly, I didn’t think it would be worth exploring art beyond that while in school (I know, ooooof. I was a little baby back then). Looking back, they really do have a decent reason to make you take the intro courses to many different media. One of these intro courses, which I took somewhat on impulse, was printmaking.

In my mind, it initially felt so mathematical and calculated compared to my drawing practice, with intense machines I knew nothing about and one missed measurement potentially spelling doom for an entire print set. Scary for sure, but worth investigating? As I kept going, my interest grew, like I suddenly wanted to conquer this unfamiliar art form, and before I knew it, 3 years had passed and oh shit I’m in my last year and my grad project is a print installation. After starting by trying my best to conform to print conventions, I eventually found my best work by bending those rules, and the print studio was my favourite place in the school by the time I was done. I had fallen in love. As my convocation was approaching, I figured it would be easy enough to find a studio I could make my work in and call home.

But uh...that was in February 2020, and I had no idea what I was in for. That grad show? Didn’t happen in person. Suddenly, I needed to stay home as much as possible. How was I to continue printmaking from my house? It’s not like I’m really in a position to invest in a silkscreen as well as commit to the complications of setting up a print studio in my house, but art has always been such a part of my life that I can’t imagine not doing it. So, what’s a girl to do?

I took a painting class in uni a few years prior, but OH GOD. OH GODDDD. I felt so overworked in that class; in fact, so much so that it left a bad taste in my mouth towards the entire medium, even to that day. Nevertheless, I had some oil paints that I hadn’t used since. Blocking out the tragedy of Intro to Painting, I decided to take them out and play around on some scrap canvas one day, fully expecting to not enjoy it.

However, as I moved into my own place for the first time, I started painting outside; before I knew it, the summer had flown by, and I spent most of that time trying to figure out how to make paint work on my porch. I knew I would only get frustrated if I started out trying to make realistic, representative work, and I was drawn to abstract work anyways.

The first bunch of paintings were definitely rough, but I think I was on to something. Gradually, without me even realizing at first, I started using the practice of playing around with paint as a therapeutic exercise, and let my feelings come through in the color, the texture, and the movement in the work. Since then, it’s developed into “how” I paint, and I let my style flow and develop freely, experimenting lots within my paintings and learning the strong and weak elements of each one in order to improve.

I still draw, too, and I’m eternally chomping at the bit to get back to my printmaking, but I never would have thought that painting would be as important to me as it is now. Sure, there’s value to “picking” a style or media early on and mastering it, but I’m happy to let my curiosity guide me as I begin navigating my art career.