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Painting is Type II Fun


"Creativity takes Courage" - Henri Matisse


Have you heard of Type II Fun? I first heard about it from my son David. He explains that Type I fun is the easy stuff: You do something that's fun in the doing and you remember it as such. Type II fun on the other hand may be rather arduous, even painful in the doing. But when you look back on it with the distance of a little time the pain is gone and the memory is awesome. Dave is an extreme whitewater paddler and enjoys a lot of Type II adventures (which by the way doesn't necessarily translate into a mother's Type II fun).


As a painter there is less life and death Type II fun, but it too can be harrowing in the doing. You start with an idea, an image, or a theme that may have sprung to mind in an instant or which may have been percolating for months or even years. After musing and composing you finally find yourself standing in front of the easel, and taking a deep breath, you dive in. Things may go according to plan for a bit, but sooner or later there's that curveball, thrown by your muse or the chaos monkey (or perhaps the two of them at once). You find yourself tumbling into a different place than you expected. Whether you embrace it with love or with sheer determination, embrace it you must because there's no going back: There is no undo button on the easel (though plenty is the time I have reached for it instinctively). And while sometimes the painting dies one the easel like a deflated party balloon slowly losing it's loft and ability to inspire, often, if you stick with it, the journey continues to a point where you you're pleased - often surprised, but pleased. Type II fun right?


Without the struggle I'm not sure I'd enjoy the process as much. It may be painful in the doing, but I love looking back with the satisfaction of knowing I stuck it out. I rode the wave through the hazardous rapids and sometimes over the falls, and I'm here to tell the tale, or more accurately I have a painting to tell my tale. And thinking back on it I remember only the glory... Type II fun!



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