Time to Unplug!
We are living in the golden age of information, and that means having unprecedented access to anything you could ever want to know, whenever you want it. Still, it is important to maintain a healthy informational diet; too much of even a good thing can be a bad thing. I recently came to realize my mental diet had been devolving almost exclusively towards junk food. Coupled with 24-hour accessibility via my ever-present phone, my brain was actively processing information during all of my waking hours. There seemed to be no room for relaxation, for introspection, for me-time, even when I was alone.
I realized that I needed to recharge, and ironically, the way to recharge was to unplug.
That’s easier said than done. My brain was calling out for the stimulation it had grown accustomed to, and without something to focus on during unplugged time, I could not engage the decompression button. I needed a non-intrusive medium, something that could take my brain out of drive and shift it into neutral. And I found it.
Unplug and Paint!
I’m not particularly artistic or creative – I was not ready for a blank canvas. I needed something pre-conceived, something that could provide me with a very clear starting point, and an open-ended finishing point. Something that could be as detailed or as basic as I wanted, with no one judging the end results. Something I could put on display, or in a drawer, whatever I chose. And I needed this something to be inexpensive.
Painting pottery has it all covered. I can select a piece of bisque pottery – essentially a three-dimensional canvas, that while blank, is also fully conceived. It’s a llama. It’s a gnome. It’s a decorative plate. It’s a jewelry box. All that is required of me is to paint it, however I like. I can follow conventional expectations, or I can just let my mind go wherever it goes.
The best part? The focus. Watching the brush gliding over the surface of the ceramic piece, leaving a trail of color in its wake, the delicate filaments creating nearly imperceptible tracks, it is pure relaxation. It is zen.
Nothing creeps into my mind when painting pottery; my focus is only on the task at hand. I can spend hours painting, without saying a word, without looking at my phone, without taking my brain out of neutral. And I am not alone. The studio is full of people doing the exact same thing; focusing, decompressing, taking a mental vacation.
I think if you give it a try, you will be hooked.