June 10: Art and Happiness

Everyone understands the need and desire for nourishing food, to provide us with energy and amino acids and essential nutrients. That’s pretty straight forward. But as a social species, we actually need more than that. We have needs that go beyond the physiological – we need things like acceptance, love, appreciation, and autonomy. We seek happiness, or self-actualisation, or a sense of belonging and community (or all of these things, they’re not mutually exclusive). We create meaning for ourselves out of the things we do, because we need our actions and our lives to have meaning.


There are many paths up this particular mountain. Today’s project is one of those. I bought another wall decal, this one a mandala pattern for the toilet door, and I’ve been filling it in with colour using enamel paints. It isn’t finished, because paint has to dry before more paint can be added, otherwise most of the paint ends up on me. Been there, done that.


Lots of things provide me with happiness. Flowers growing, gardening or cooking, baking bread, looking at the stars. Reading a good book. Having a warm cat sitting on my lap, purring (which I currently in fact have). But I’m also an artist, and for me one of the big things which gives me happiness is creating things.


I acknowledge that this project is basically just colouring in, no great creative feat. But it still makes me happy. And it’s one more thing towards getting the house finished (even if it’s a very small thing), which also makes me happy.


If anyone wants to play with this idea, it’s super easy to do on a small scale. Draw a pattern on a piece of wood or masonite (if you don’t feel able to draw a pretty pattern free-hand, copy one fro a picture of a simple stained glass window), and then fill in the spaces using paint. Enamel paint is available from hardware stores in small ‘sample’ pots, or you can use artists acrylics, or just use nail polish from the $2 store. It’s available in lots of pretty colours, and it’s easy to get. When you’re done, you can go over your lines with a black or metallic permanent marker if you want to. Then paint a layer of clear varnish over the top to seal the whole thing, and you have a lovely artwork to hang on a wall, or wherever you like. This is pretty easy for children, too, if they’re old enough to be trusted not to try eating the paint or nail polish, and have a reasonable level of dexterity.