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Listen to Your Art

When I was younger, I didn’t anticipate that I would fall in love with creating abstract art. Yet here I am, so here’s a little bit about how I got here.

From a young age, I enjoyed drawing and coloring. At one point, I decided that painting seemed easy: “You just put the colors where the colors go.” I finally tried painting in high school. While I wouldn’t call painting easy, I did have a knack for it. The art department chose me as one of two featured artists for the semester—a great honor—and I won an art contest online. At the time, I liked making representational art (mainly portraits) and actively disliked abstract art. Occasionally, when I felt like painting but didn’t know what to paint, I would paint colors. I didn’t think of it as abstract art. I didn’t really think of it as anything but a pleasant way to spend the afternoon.

Due to my art successes in high school, people started asking if I planned to go to art school. My answer was a firm no. I enjoyed making art, but my favorite classes were math and science, so I chose that route. I didn’t paint much in college (and many of my paintings went unfinished), but I did start experimenting with painting as a stress relief. Unlike my portraits, these paintings weren’t meant to be seen. They were simply an outlet.

If college was stressful, then I don’t know what to call graduate school. Don’t get me wrong—I have great memories from graduate school and value my experience. But it was stressful. My life in the lab was all about accuracy, precision, and reproducibility. Outside of the lab, I needed something much less structured to compensate. I missed painting, but the thought of painting a portrait, meant to be perfect representation of its subject matter, was downright revolting.

I finally got to the point where I realized that I wanted to paint for the sake of painting, and if I wanted to paint a canvas completely grey, then that was just fine. I had somehow forgotten about those afternoons in high school spent happily painting colors or my stress relief experiments in college. I didn’t think of them at all when I started experimenting with abstract art in graduate school, layering paint in different ways and noting the results.

When I started, I didn’t think that I would make anything that I would be proud of. But one of the first paintings I made caught me. The painting came about so organically, with no grand plan for its outcome. I lost myself in its depth, and I think it was the first time I emotionally connected with a piece of art I had created.

Black and red abstract painting.

I was hooked. It was the perfect outlet for a stressed scientist and repressed, frustrated artist. Sometimes, I would trouble shoot my experiments while I painted. Sometimes, I would think about something completely unrelated to school. Sometimes, my mind was blank. But by allowing my mind to wander, I felt free.

So here I am today—post graduate school, much less stressed, and fully embracing my abstract style. You could say that I listened to my art, and this is where it led me. In this blog, you can expect to find posts about techniques I’ve learned through my art experiments, product reviews, and more. My hope is that you’ll be inspired to listen to your own art. Give it a try, and let me know what you think!

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