Thursday, February 9, 2012

Paint-By-Number Zen

Running errands with a friend, we came across a wire display of Paint-By-Numbers in the kid section of the art supply store.  We couldn’t resist.  Half joke, half spending frenzy, we each bought one; planning to ply our painting skills with a bottle of wine later in the week.  I brought mine home and tossed it in a pile on the dining room table.  There it sat forgotten. 

Until one day, lacking in inspiration and bogged down with brain prattle, I let procrastination get the better of me.  Instead of going to my workshop and finishing the pieces I needed for the week, I checked the weather.  Then did the dishes, walked the dog, checked the weather again, went on Facebook, put on some socks, checked the weather one more time, and then distractedly sat down with a pile of papers form the table.  Under the health insurance summery and the 2 for 1 deal on pizza was my paint-by-number.  It seemed the time waster I was dreaming of.  But as I popped open the first little numbered paint pot, something changed.

There is something about doing a paint-by-number.   It has the same inexplicable draw as coloring with a three year old.  It doesn’t really matter what it looks like.  It’s not like you drew it.  It’s understood that you aren’t creating a masterpiece.   You gather your stock paintbrush and ubiquitous jar of water. You pick a primary color and tug on its plastic tab. You dip in the brush and search the printed cardboard for the right tiny blue number and begin.  Then it happens.  By the second tier of the smokestack, you stop being concerned with picking up dog food.  By the third or fourth leopard spot, your breathing slows. You stop bunching your shoulders and crinkling your forehead.  Filling a swath of cloud, you begin to think clearer, have better ideas. 

I painted four number 10 spaces, and I was ready.  I’d somehow found focus simply by covering up little blue lines with a tiny brush.  I went to the workshop and was more productive than I had been in two days.  I had stumbled onto an indispensable tool.  The paint dries quickly, so I can cover just a couple of spaces, filling in what will become a shadow or a suitcase.  Then, put it back in a drawer until I need it again. I don’t really know what I’ll do with the finished product.  Maybe hang it in a pantry or the closet.  The finished product really isn’t the point.

My friend and I did eventually get our wine and paint-by-number diversion.  We had mimosas and rolls and painted.  Thinking up marvelous plans (watch for a paint-by-number cocktail) and churning out color blocked amalgamations that only vaguely resemble the picture on the box.  The picture didn’t really matter.  Just that we had a great time.  Am I suggesting that paint-by-number will cure you of anxiety and put you on the path of brilliance?  Well, yes.  I am.
When was the last time you did a paint-by-number?

1 comment:

  1. Awesome, looks like fun! of course, you and Jennie could make doing taxes look like fun.

    Ironically, the CAPTCHA word I had was "redless".