My friend Christine has a new hobby, one that might prove an inspiration for you. It certainly has for me.
I was so taken with her first painting, above, and her ongoing enthusiasm that I asked her to share her story with ADHD Roller Coaster readers. She kindly obliged.
I have always loved being creative. Before I was diagnosed as having ADHD – Inattentive Subtype at the age of 35, I attributed my creativity to being a Pisces, but I also attributed my inattentive qualities to that as well. What a relief to know that there was a true medical reason.
I grew up as a farmer’s daughter in Minnesota. Being creative was not something a person focused on in the “country.”
In the summers, I would help feed calves, unload hay bales from the wagons into the barn, scrape the **** in the barn, and cook lunch for the cute high school boys when they worked for us.
When I was in high school, I took an art class or two but I wasn’t the “best” in the class and we primarily focused on sketching. I am not very skilled at sketching or coloring in the lines! So, over the past 20+ years I have used my creativity primarily in my Human Resources career by writing and delivering training programs. I have also dabbled in creating greeting cards. I guess you could call it paper crafting. Let’s be clear – it is not scrap-booking! 😉
A couple of months ago, though, my HR team participated in a team-building event. We went to a local business called Sip-n-Doodle in Frisco, Texas, where everyone was to pick a picture and paint it. I really wanted to paint a picture of doves in honor of my father, who kicked lymphoma 6 months ago. So, I painted two doves from memory to signify my parents and their love.
The teacher was very fun—and funny. She had us first let go of any previous notions that we had about not being an artist, and told us that everyone has it inside of them. Everyone picked out a picture they wanted to paint. I checked out a photo on my iPhone of a real dove, but I already had a vision in my head of what I wanted to paint.
They squirted paint on a paper plate for us and then talked us through painting the background, letting it dry, and then sketching the shapes in chalk.
Next, we just played with color and painted. It just kind of came naturally to me. I was really surprised!
It was the first time I had ever painted in my life, and it has changed my world! When I returned to the Bay Area, I visited my local craft store and purchased an acrylic beginners kit. I have been a painting ever since!
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There are so many things that I love about painting:
- I don’t have to be “perfect.”
That day at the studio, it was all about fun. No pressure. Also, we had limited time – she set a timer to go off after 10 minutes or so. We had a break where we danced to music in the middle of the studio and then there was a 10 minute warning. It all helped introduce me to painting as a pleasurable activity, not a competition.
- It’s stimulating!
It stimulates my brain in the same way that playing “Bejeweled” or other games on my iPad does – yet there is an actual product that I can enjoy, trash, or share with others!
- Yet, it also is calming.
I feel a wonderful “calm” sense in my brain when I’m painting—some sort of serotonin release. My anxiety, and need to take anxiety pills, has lessened significantly. Playing at the canvas helps me to process my thoughts from the day and relax.
- I am losing weight!
I believe that it is because it “fills me up” – those empty holes inside myself that have needed some sort of outlet for a long time.
- I can express myself freely.
Sometimes it is difficult for me to express what I need to say verbally or in writing. There is so much! For some reason, painting allows me to express everything inside of me without needing to worry about proper grammar. I can just be me!
- I love the feeling of slapping down the acrylic paints onto canvas.
I especially prefer heavy-bodied acrylics. It reminds me of my childhood and playing in the mud. Even just thinking of it, I can feel the satisfaction of the heavy acrylic from the canvas through the paint brush and into my hand. It is incredibly difficult to explain but I hope that helps.
How about you?
Do you have a creative outlet that is both stimulating and relaxing? Tell us about it.