As we get older, more worldly-wise and well travelled; we do less, and less for the first time.
I’ll be honest, I’ve never been much of an artist. In fact, I’m so bad at drawing that people refuse to play Pictionary with me! My oldest friend, Stephanie, is a true artist and an amazingly talented human. So from about 6 years old, I stopped trying, in fact, I actively avoided the whole thing. Art classes were spent looking enviously at what she had managed to do in 60 mins and laughing at my own attempts. Drawing was her thing; singing and being a general drama queen was mine!
So when I visited the Rembrant House Museum in Amsterdam and the etching workshop coincided with my visit, I shrank slightly inside.
“I’m hopeless” I told the beautiful Dutch instructor.
“You can just trace a Rembrant Etching!” she smiled at me encouragingly.
“I’m hopeless at even tracing” I assured her solemnly…
However, the old fashioned ink and printer were calling to me and I had to at least have a go!
From the moment I sat down and chose what I thought was a simple tree but quickly realised was the most complicated and practically impossible thing to trace; I revelled in the experience. I found myself deep in concentration for half an hour (and the rest) just following the lines underneath my plastic sheet. I had to really dig in hard with my scalpel to make any mark at all, my hand ached like hell after about 10 minutes but I was eager to struggle on, attempting to make my awkward jagged scratches reflect Rembrants easy fluid lines.
I was last in the class to finally admit defeat and move onto the next stage…inking, blotching, cleaning and printing! I did all four stages with great care, trying to understand what the instructor wanted from me; warning me of “cleaning too much” and then laughing at me for “not cleaning enough”!
Each step I took more and more joy from the simple ritual of it all and for the pure reason that it was all completely new to me. As you can see from the image – my attempt it just that, an attempt!
However, I couldn’t be more proud of it. How amazing that I could create this…mess…in just 50 minuets. How lovely that I got to do something that I’ve never done before and that allowed for my creative side to come out in its own unique way.
The whole experience reminded me how important it is to try new things more often. Try things we wouldn’t normally try or that we have already written off as something beyond our capabilities. For no greater reason that it is damn good fun and feels rewarding too.
It made me happy.
So I urge you. Go out and do something new. Make yourself happy! Turns out it is the most fulfilling kind of happiness there is.