In Praise of Painting

Certain diversions we do because we more or less have to do, such as vigorous exercising, studying languages, sex, travel, and reading.  And these all have their proper place.  But there are times when the collective strain of responsibility, and the stress of duties, demand that entirely new parts of our brain be activated and exercised.  When I say “new” parts of the brain, I mean literally that:  a man can rub raw a particular part of his brain by continually using it, and exhaust himself by repetitive tasks.

Avoid Repetition

Doing the same things over and over again, even though they may be enjoyable, can cause our brains to settle into a comfortable rut from which little creative energy can be coaxed.  We slide into a comfortable routine; we become assured in our torpor, and our brains and spirits move about within their own self-imposed and ever more restrictive boundaries.

Everyone knows that we live in a stressful world, where we are often harassed on all sides by deadlines, obligations, and similar impositions that act to upset our serenity.  The worried mind can take hold of some oppressive thought and fixate on it.  Often the mind will not let a troublesome thought go.  It does no good, in this situation, to try to talk your mind out of thinking unwanted thoughts.  The mind has its own separate engine, and will continue to expend its efforts day and night on its own fixations.

In this situation, I have found that the best remedy is not to try to banish stressful thoughts (for this is nearly impossible), but to introduce some new and totally different subject for the mind to focus on.  The more different the subject matter, the better.  The brain finds it refreshing to employ totally different parts of itself.  And in so doing, it loosens its grip on stressful and oppressive thoughts.  In this way, art can truly be liberating.

A New Hobby

And this is how I discovered the wonderfully therapeutic power of painting.  I am talking here about painting pictures.  Several years ago I reached a point in my life when I felt I needed a hobby that was totally different from my usual ones.  On some sudden impulse, and with no previous background or experience in the visual arts, I bought an acrylic paint set at a hobby store and dove in.  I let the colors fly.  I could hardly believe how much better I began to feel as I began to focus on colors, spatial relations, depth perception, alignment and lighting.  These were activities that were totally different from the skills employed in my regular life.

The process of being surrounded by rich and varied color somehow activates certain switches in your brain that attune you to other artistic things in the world.  This was an activity totally different from any other I had taken up, and I could literally feel the synapses of my brain firing in ways they never before had.  I mattered little that I had no experience or training:  after cranking out twenty paintings, you will know how to paint.  Plunge in and just start the colors flowing in bold strokes.

The Benefits Of Color

Why is it that painting relaxes and soothes in ways that other hobbies do not?  I think there are several reasons.  One reason is that we city dwellers, cut off from nature, live in a color-starved world.  Our world is filled with the drabness of concrete and steel, rather than with bold yellows, greens, reds, blues, purples, and oranges.  We are famished for color sensory stimulation.  Another reason is that is painting, unlike reading, is a handicraft:  you are using your hands and motor skills to create a visual statement.  You are expressing yourself in a non-verbal way.  Painting enables you to generate sentiments that are nearly impossible to verbalize, and in so doing, you relieve the soul from its pent-up burdens. This creative act starts some kind of mysterious chain reaction in you, and the resulting creativity spills over into other aspects of your life.  You will find your work, relationships, and love life improve considerably. This type of cross-fertilizing expression is a rare thing in the modern world.

The great modern artist Wassily Kandinsky thought that colors themselves possessed mystical qualities.  In his great 1911 treatise Concerning the Spiritual in Art, Kandinsky even went so far as to assert that colors actually had musical qualities, whether alone or used together.  This was one of the reasons he called his paintings “compositions”:  it was his way of relating paintings to musical symphonies.  I don’t know if I share his opinions, but I do believe that colors have some mystical force.  Being bathed in a mix of color, whether from oil painting, watercolors, or acrylics, has some undeniable therapeutic power.  It cannot be fully explained; you have to experience it for yourself.

Try painting.  It will ease the tumescence of an active imagination, fire up and sustain your creative juices, enable you to see relationships and connections between things you never could see before, and make you a more complete man.  The initial investment in money is far smaller than nearly any other hobby.  It makes little demand on your time, and rewards you with serenity of spirit and an increased appreciation for the depth and richness of the colors of the world.

It does not matter if you prefer abstract art, landscapes, portraits, or any other visual style.  And it is never too late to take up the brush.  Winston Churchill came to recreational painting late in life after suffering political setbacks in his career, and found that it always sustained his spirits through trying times.  His little 1932 homage to painting, the essay Painting as a Pastime is a wonderful little read in its own right.  “Just to paint is great fun”, he wrote.  “The colors are lovely to look at and delicious to squeeze out.  Matching them, however crudely, with what you see is fascinating and absolutely absorbing.  Try it if you have not done so—before you die.”

Gino Severini's "Armored Train"

Read More:  The Easiest Way to Explode Your Productivity

28 thoughts on “In Praise of Painting”

  1. A few days back was harem development and best cities to get laid in, then on to chess and painting. Straight class, this site. Stay gold, Pony Boy.

    1. Roger that. Here at ROK we want you to be well-rounded, and cultivate all facets of your identity. This is the essence of inner game. Where else in the world can you find, in one place, info about pussy and fine arts?

      1. Frankly, I have neither the time nor need to look for an ROK substitute. I greatly appreciated this article of fine art.

        1. I dint see your comment before starting with “Frankly…”.
          When I was in the Army two lesbians were arguing. One said “Let’s be frank with each other…”. And my buddy said to her “Yeah, you can be Frank tonight and she can be Frank tomorrow night!”, to much raucous laughter. Probably would be deemed innappropriate microaggression in today’s gay Army.

    2. We are all looking for an innovation, our life is an eternal reformation.Our great drama is the tough battle that goes with routine law, the tyranny that the law imposes life. Repetition is inevitable in life. When life ceases to be alive and becomes routine (pussy1, pussy2, pussy3… pussyn), regular repetition becomes inert,becomes a regular rhythm. However, if the repetition serves a direct purpose of creation and preserves the character of originality, the feeling is kept alive. This is the main idea of this article.

  2. Winston Churchill covered this a long time ago in his book “Painting as a Pastime”.
    He also penned a great essay “Blowing up a Train”.

  3. For the more philosophically inclined, there’s Merleau-Ponty’s “Cezanne’s Doubt” — a pertinent quote from which is thus:
    “Cézanne’s painting suspends the habits of thought and reveals the base of inhuman nature upon which man has installed himself.”
    I’ve rarely painted in my life, but I can see the wisdom in turning to it again in order to see things from a more primordial and natural standpoint, as opposed to the “inhuman” that we deal with day after day in the modern, and post-modern, world.

    1. I can’t explain it, but it really has improved my creativity and productivity. You just have to “shock” your brain into using new neurons, grooves, and methods….

      1. Merleau-Ponty was all about it NOT being biology–your brain waves, neurotransmitters, etc. His view of phenomenology, particularly in such essays as “Cezanne’s Doubt”, was about seeing and being in the world in a non-reductive, non-scientific way.
        There are other ways of being in the world that are not scientific nor can be evaluated through science. I think you are already perhaps onto this idea from what you’ve written in the article. Cool to see too a commenter has read some Merleau-Ponty.

        1. Yep, that’s because I studied philosophy heavily way back in the day.
          Alphonso Lingis is another good one to read about the phenomenology of everyday life, so to speak.

  4. Great post. I can give a solid endorsement of painting. I was artsy growing up but slowed down towards my late teens, which coincidentally is when I starting getting real angsty, depressed and shitty. Towards the end of college a buddy got me a cheap paint set. That thing changed my life. As I started painting and making art again, my mood improved, I started exercising more, and I started getting laid. There were other factors, but I credit it to starting to use the right side of my brain again. 12 years later and I am making art all the time. It is the greatest relief from 9-5 jobs and punching the clock.
    This site talks a lot about being balanced and painting will balance you. Painting and art activates your right brain and lets your left side (which is responsible for numbers, time and other structured activities like many people’s job) rest. If you start painting, you will sit for hours and not even realize it happened. When was the last time that you completely lost track of time and where just in a zone of pure creativity? That shit is like a drug.
    Reactivating the creativity that society has been trying to stomp out of you since kindergarten will change your life. You see and do things differently. You ask different questions. Plus, it gives the girls major tingles. You are the cool aloof artist. Give a girl a painting you made with your own hands for her birthday or a holiday and you have to pry her off your cock. It is better chick crack than jewelry.

  5. It’s fun to be an artist, they get the best poon. When a chick sees that you paint, they want to start modeling for you and shit.
    It’s awesome.

    1. Where I live there are a lot of Native American artists. I worked with a guy who’s brother was fairly well-known. He recounted with disdain how his brother would invite girls to his loft to see his “etchings”.

      1. “. I worked with a guy who’s brother was fairly well-known. He recounted with disdain how his brother would invite girls to his loft to see his “etchings””
        If these are white chicks, and the native on question is a man of darker skin, it could have nothing to do with his etchings, but rather white girls prefering darker skinned dude.

  6. Incredible article, as if you read my mind! I’m a musician
    and took up painting about five years ago and as you said my creativity just
    shot through the roof. My music and song writing improved tremendously. I love
    oil paints I can sit for hours staring at each stage of my paintings and let my
    imagination run free. The colors are sexy and it feels so good to squeeze them
    out and mix them on to the canvas. I have always been able to draw since I was a
    little kid, just a talent I was born with; I’ve never taken any drawing class,
    but color is on a whole other level and much harder to master, it’s like a mystery
    fill with real magic the way colors evoke musical tones and moods to me within a painting.
    As you said it’s like a meditation a spiritual cleansing of some sort, a deeper connection where you use I guest a different part of your mind and it colors the whole world around you.
    Keep up the great work guys, tremendous article! Thanks I needed that.

    1. Thanks, Joaquin. Glad to hear others had similar experiences. Painting has helped me with so many things: writing, conversation, planning jury arguments, dress, style, peace of mind, etc., etc. You may enjoy Kandinsky’s essay, cited above, on the spiritual in art. His theory of color-music correlation may be very deep. I’m not a musician, and you would know more about this than I.
      And if you want any proof that painting can be rabble-rousing and iconoclastic, check out the Futurist Manifesto, published by the Italian Futurist movement in the early 1900s. It’s only 2 pages long. Balls to the wall, in-your-face, and totally sincere:
      I’m a big fan of Italian Futurism. We need something like this now….
      The header painting for this article is by Kandinsky. “Composition VIII”, I think. The one at the end is “Armored Train” by Gino Severini.

      1. I knew that Kandinsky is one of my favorite; thanks again I really
        needed the article I’ve been way too left brain lately with my business and I’m thinking of going into music full time again. I get a billion ideas for
        painting they just come to me endlessly I like the human figure in abstract
        always with a core message; love Picasso (Les Demoiselles dAvignon 1907,Guernica 1937)! My biggest challenge has always been color I usually steal a pallet from a great painting which inspires me and improvise my ideas around it, I think it will take me a life time to develop my own original color palette.
        (Color and Music) I think to me it has to do with minor, major and diminished chordal/melodic harmonies; whereas minor scales have a
        dark mysterious sound and mood; earth tones and black evoke that for me, while major harmonies are solid and strong represented to me by the primary colors red, green and blue and diminished harmonies tend to be dissonant at times and create movement; greys and whites represent that, of course this is all quite subjective and personal that’s the beauty of it. It’s fucking endless and glorious.
        I’ll check out the link.
        Thanks again

  7. Another way to free the mind from stress?
    Meditation, yoga, mantra chanting, or even taking a tab of MDMA.

  8. First time commenting here, but I’ve been reading RoK for some weeks now and truly like it. As some other readers pointed out, I love the judicious mix of articles on game, philosophy, sociology, masculinity, achievement and much more.
    Keep up the good work. Sites like this are a breath of fresh air and a big source of motivation for all men who want to rise up above mediocrity!

  9. I for one can appreciate an article such as this. As previously been stated, balance is important, and the act of creation is part of process, be it painting or sculpting or perhaps even writing poetry.
    Recently within the past several years the tools to make photography has advanced that of art form itself. In the hands of those who have a good sense of composition and the photo augmenting software, one can see amazing results, and that also includes those who combine photography and digital collage.
    But like Quintus, I too am partial to painting. And developing a creative side is important, it sheds a more complete light on a man. I do not care for George W. Bush, but was intrigued to hear when he took up painting classes. Although W has a bit to go to develop his technique, I can’t say my attitude about him changed, but when a man creates it shows another dimension.
    And for those who can make a living painting or creating as such, I salute you. Although perhaps creating is better done as a passion. I studied art in college and can honestly say the art “world” whatever that entails has been thoroughly hijacked by total cretins. I am speaking of the elite art world who are trying to control everything.
    But thankfully creating is separate from the goings on of the art circus, and I would also like to add too that contrary to popular belief, it does not make a man any less masculine or heterosexual. A lesser known fact about Bob Guccione, who founded Penthouse was also a painter. He later he developed the famous “soft focus” photo technique of his models in his magazine.

  10. Such a brilliant website. A man can become better with women and a more cultured, well rounded individual simply by checking this site once a day.

Comments are closed.