by cheri sabraw
I’m not sure when it occurred to me to begin painting my photographs.
But in doing so, new neural pathways of thought are growing like spring jasmine tendrils.
I am not at the helm of my frenetic business anymore or staring at a blank screen while writing my thesis, a deadline looming in front of me like a dark and sinister twister.I have the time to re-acquaint myself with oils and canvas, brushes and pencils.
But many do not have much time, either by choice or by necessity.
Winston Churchill wrote a short book, Painting As A Pastime, a collection of short essays that was first published in 1948. I commend it to those of you looking for inspiration to create a respite from the relentless march of your responsibilities.
Most of us, I would hope, are familiar with the excruciating stress that Churchill experienced as a public servant in his early life but even more so as the Prime Minister of Great Britain during World War II. How was he able to be such a steady leader in such unstable times?
He love affair helped.
With painting, that is.
He began painting in 1925 and continued for fifty years. His paints traveled with him to North Africa to meet Roosevelt, to the battlefield, and to his home, Chartwell.
In Painting As A Pastime, he advocates rescuing your brain and emotions with something different.
” The cultivation of a hobby and new forms of interest is therefore a policy of first importance to a public man. But this is not a business that can be undertaken in a day or swiftly improvised by a mere command of the will.”
He writes about mental fatigue and about mental rejuvenation.
“A man can wear out a particular part of his mind by continually using it and tiring it, just in the same way as he can wear out the elbows of his coat. There is, however, this difference between the living cells of the brain and inanimate articles: one cannot mend the frayed elbows of a coat by rubbing the sleeves or shoulders; but the tired parts of the mind can be rested and strengthened, not merely by rest, but by using other parts.”
” To be really happy and really safe, one ought to have at least two or three hobbies, and they must all be real. It is no use starting late in life to say,’ I will take an interest in this or that.’ Such an attempt only aggravates the strain of mental effort. A man may acquire great knowledge or topics unconnected with his daily work, and yet hardly get any benefit or relief. It is no use doing what you like; you have got to like what you do.”
The Roman poet Horace has been credited with this quotation that, I might add, is included in the Publisher’s Preface to Painting As A Pastime:
“Dare to great (wise): begin!”