Writers’ Blokke
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Writers’ Blokke

How Painting Rocks Soothed My Soul

A childhood activity may be my new favorite hobby

Painted Rocks
Photo by Nick Fewings on Unsplash

When my girlfriend told me she wanted to paint rocks to drop at state parks, I thought, “have fun with that.” It’s not because I didn’t like the sound of it, quite the opposite. I have spied these little trinkets left out and about by others; they always bring joy to my hike. It is like happening upon an Easter egg hunt when you didn’t know the holiday was happening. I have even found myself going down a rabbit hole on social media, watching others decorate their pebbles in fantastical ways. My issue was I didn’t feel adequate to do the same.

How could this be true? It is such a simple task with no actual rules! What does it say about ourselves when we convince our inner child that we are not enough? I found the little lies I told myself were stopping me from this activity and others in my life as well.

1. I Am Not Artistic

I have always wanted to be the person that can pick up a pencil, paintbrush, sewing needle, jigsaw, or other tool and amaze others with my raw talent. Instead, my “artistic bone” seemed to be missing, like my removed appendix. I take pleasure in embracing my incredibly simplistic stick figures that are the limit of my drawing abilities because I felt that was the extent of my talent.

It turns out the most challenging part of this experience was just starting. I stressed over what to make. I fretted over picking the right shaped rock. I worried my paints wouldn’t work right and I would ruin my project. However, once I just started, I realized I could make something I was proud of, and being an artist does not mean being perfect.

2. I Do Not Have Patience

Beginning to paint, all I could think was about how long it would take. Ten rocks? Are you crazy?! I have no ideas, and I can’t even figure out how to do one! What do you want from me?!?!

Now that you know the type of dramatics I bring to our relationship, you see how my girlfriend is a saint to include me in anything.

But then I started one rock, and I liked what I had done. Then I started the next rock, and it was a bit more detailed. Suddenly 45 minutes had passed; Kelley had finished her rocks and was trying to clean up for dinner around me. “No, eat on the couch! I’m still working on my penguin!” You would have thought I was Michelangelo working on the Sistine Chapel ceiling; I was so adamant about my craft not being interrupted!

3. Talent Does Not Need Directions

How can I call myself creative if I am not doing something original? This is where my brain becomes my biggest critic. It is not even telling me I am bad at what I am making, and it is telling me I am a fraud for not being a savant! Now perhaps that is a bit extreme, but it is ugly up in this noggin.

I scrolled online for interesting rock designs and finally decided to try and replicate one. It was a small turtle. Make a face. Add some legs and a tail. The rest was all shell. And suddenly I found I was doing it! My design wasn’t perfect. The colors blended, and the shapes were irregular, but I was doing it! My brain kept saying I was just copying a picture, but my inner child finally told my brain to shove it!

I was overjoyed! Yes, I am 40 and painting a rock to look like a turtle, but it was more than that! I was making it; I was creative. So what if I had to look at a picture to see what I wanted to make? It was my hand moving the markers and brushes, making it happen. Suddenly I was off to the races to find more animals to create!

4. I Can Not Be Without Directions

Now I have used other artists’ pictures to help me paint, and I certainly can not do it independently. I am not a Picasso or any other artist whose name I do not know, but I can be creative! Modeling after others gave me my sea legs which helped me have confidence instead of sitting back and not participating.

Yes, this was just painting rocks. I did not turn it into a career as a world-renowned mural artist or a new path to extraordinary artistic abilities. It was just rocks. And yes, we placed them in state parks, and I hope those that stumble upon them get the joy at that moment that I had in that afternoon creating them.

I now can look at that experience to ask myself, what else am I telling myself that I can’t do? What else am I afraid to attempt for fear of being inadequate? Why do we have to compare ourselves to others so often or put ourselves down for something we have never tried. Now I have a small painted rock on my desk that reminds me, I may not always be great at something, I may need help to get started, and I can try new things if only I get started because you never know what joy you might find in a small childlike task.

Want to see some of my rocks? Check out my Instagram at @RoadTripWithOurDog.

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Leslie Schwartz

Leslie Schwartz

Dog mom who travels, teacher, aspiring screenwriter. Roadtripwithourdog.com 🌈

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