My business card reads ‘Alison’s Brain4Rent.’
Were I to describe my calling I would say I rent my brain because I have so many ideas crowded in there that I believe if I get rid of some of them, a lot of them, I might better remember what’s on the grocery list, where my husband went, or the name of just about everybody. I don’t want the ideas to just get lost in there.
Recently I stopped on the street to share some ideas with the chairperson of a local non-profit organization. She grabbed my head in her hands and said “God bless you and your over active brain.” I am not a member of her charity but just had a half dozen strong ideas for her that in the describing process triggered even more ideas. Ideas in the non-profit business are cheap; getting people to work the ideas into reality – now that is the challenge. So usually if I’ve mulled the idea long enough I provide a set of guidelines for their easy implementation.
My career is marketing, so my ideas are formed with target audience, objectives, ability to engage the media and people, a sense of how to keep it simple, cost efficiency and an eye toward a high rate of return in mind. I mostly think they’re pretty good ideas, though some particularly dreadful ones have kept me entertained for days. However, I do much of my best thinking as a solitary pursuit in the super late/way too early hours of a sleep-free night. By morning, I find that they are likely elevated from ‘pretty good’ to ‘super’ idea status after input from others during regular business hours.
Today, after seeing another three fundraisers from well respected groups, my brain mulled the concept of Paint Nights. These fundraisers usually cost about $30-$50 per person to attend and include wine and nibbles. My marketing mind kicked in – value proposition analysis. There is a lot to be said for hanging with friends and supporting a cause one believes in. But ultimately were I to attend, I would be coming home with a painting I may not have liked even when created by the original artist – I mean how many simplistic lighthouses and sunsets can any one person comfortably share in a small home, especially one outside a coastal community. I just don’t want to be repeatedly subjected to my own bad execution of a painting, plus as a rule, I don’t hang paintings in my house that ALL my friends also hang. I’ve worked with enough fabulous artists to know my limitations, but simply throwing my work away seems so wasteful of both time and resources. I like to support artists, and for $40 I could get a really cool small piece from a local artist. I can’t get beyond that fact and so have never attended a paint night party.
My sister had a great idea when raising her kids – they never had a coloring book, only an endless supply of blank paper and markers, crayons, stickers, paints, and other items doomed to move a house from tidy to tidal wave of debris. She wanted her kids to come up with their own ideas, not limit their artistic endeavors to the hippo in the tutu, or the fairy in the flowers on sub par, not bright white paper. Maybe there is a shared gene for this thinking that causes me such stress with adult coloring books with their pre ordained design and 80 billion tiny spaces on a single page that all call for you to stay within the lines. Save me, please. How can people find that relaxing? But I digress, per usual.
Back to paint night – my new idea – abstracts – not a specific one, just set 3-4 abstract prints in the front of the room: Pollock, Mondrian, Kandisky, Picasso, and give the painters the freedom to explore a style or create their own. The secret to abstract painting for many novices is that they may think “Splatter paint, paint giant squares, scribble over color patches….Heck, I can do that” and so would attack the project with more abandon and less hesitancy than say counting and duplicating the white blossoms on the stylized tree limb.
I am throwing this idea for a new Paint Night out to the universe. Here’s how I’d do it.
As an exercise, ask the painters to decide on and share a feeling or a color or a movement they’d like to convey. Ask them questions like what is the color of that idea, what is the size of that idea, what does that idea look like – strong, fragile, big, small, heavy, light…. Then the instructor would display the abstracts as inspiration and let group have at it with any mishmash of media – pen and ink, pastels, markers, stickers, and paint. With entirely original abstracts created by each guest, there can be no comparison to either a master’s original or the works produced by others in the class. The instructor is on site to confer on blending colors, how to add movement, how to create a spatter pattern, and to offer encouragement, but not to say what or how to paint.
I can only imagine what fun a roomful of wined up ladies would have with their personal splatter pieces. I wouldn’t need to imagine, if someone would just do this, because that is the paint night I would finally attend hopefully with the rest of the gang that hates adult coloring books.