No, I’m Not Gonna Be an Art Therapist.

In less than two months, I’ll be starting my senior year of undergrad. It’ll be mostly online, obviously, and likely very weird. Nonetheless, if I’m lucky, a year from now I’ll have made a lot of art and I’ll have my degree. In psychology.

Cue the questions, from family and fellow students, professors, and other artists:

“What are you gonna do with it? Have you thought about art therapy?”

I have. Art therapy is helpful for many, but really doesn’t meet my goals as an artist or as a student of psychology. Art, for me, is already therapeutic and meditative. It is also extremely frustrating, and sometimes humiliating, but that’s a post for another day. I wish I could say I went in to psychology to help others, but that isn’t really accurate– I’m not gonna be a therapist of any kind. I’m studying psychology because I love to learn psychology. Like other disciplines, psychology is a tool to understand the world, in this case by understanding why people behave how they do.

The dunes at island beach state park have inspired nearly all of my recent art
The first of many paintings I’ve done of the dunes at Island Beach State Park in NJ. 8″ x 10″.

But this blog and website aren’t about psychology, they’re about me as an artist. I’m Gail, and I’m a painter. I’m 21, and it’s hard to see how my goals will change over time. For now, I’m painting for the same reason I’m studying psychology, and the same reason anyone studies math or sociology, to understand the world around me and how I fit in it. It’s also a meditation in what inspires me. Right now it’s the Jersey Shore and dramatic light; its always been color relationships, and probably always will be.

A lot of painters will tell you that the key to good painting is learning how to see, and not rely on what we think something something should look like. Learning to see scenes is learning to appreciate what’s around you. For me, that’s the NJ Turnpike. But it’s also the variety of terrains and native trees and plants. I’ve had to learn to see a lot of these.

Ideally, I’ll be practicing all of these things, seeing, interpreting, understanding, through my painting. Ideally, I’ll be documenting it all through this blog, as well as some progress shots and maybe, if you’re lucky, thoughts on my never-ending battle with painting en Plein air. I’m a young women artist, and earnestly putting my art and thoughts out there is absolutely terrifying and embarrassing (I’m also very sarcastic and being earnest just isn’t my strong suit) BUT discomfort is key to growth.

So in a year I’ll be catapulted into the real world. For now, I’m stuck six feet away from others, painting a lot and writing this to you.