I’ve loved drawing since I was a little kid. I’d spend hours drawing pretty much anything and everything. I also loved art class, regardless of what it was we were creating. In retrospect, I realized it’s making that I enjoy. The artifacts themselves don’t really interest me much – they never have – but I think the process from ideation to creation is something beautiful.
In high school, a teacher encouraged me to try painting. I found I loved that too, enough to study art at York University and graduate with a Bachelor of Fine Art. I put a lot of pressure on myself then and afterwards. It seems like I couldn’t sit down to draw or paint without expecting I would create a masterpiece every time. Unreasonable expectations like this turned something I truly loved into a source of tremendous stress, and it kept on building over time. Curiously, as I actually did less and less art, the stakes got progressively higher.
I wandered away from art for close to 20 years.. Life got busy, a career and family life took over, and I lost sight of the joy I found in making.
Subconsciously, I slowly drove myself back to art. There wasn’t a job I took that I didn’t modify in some way to allow me some opportunity for expression. A job at a fundraising agency gradually morphed to include print and digital design. I started making handmade cards for special occasions. Then web development and absurd spending sprees at art supply shops despite not knowing what I was going to do with the materials. I picked up bread baking as a hobby. The closer I looked at my life, the more obvious it was that the common thread is my joy in making things.
In late 2016, a friend who knew I used to paint asked me to collaborate on altering an existing painting That’s when I really started painting again, but that was the only painting I worked on for over a year. I struggled and fought with myself, alternating between procrastination, putting awful pressure on myself to create a masterpiece, and finally a few bouts of furious activity. When I finally handed it over to him in early 2018, I started to wonder what came next.
After a few false starts, it became obvious that I had no idea what I was doing. I had learned a lot about art at university, but I hadn’t really been trained to paint. I still confronted that pressure whenever I contemplated starting though. The answer, it turns out was to Just Play.