Imagine if esteemed health and fitness guru Dr. Oz announced:
“We’ve found that painting rainbows for twenty minutes before meals results in significantly more weight loss than going to the gym for an equal amount of time. We suggest you cut back on your workouts and spend some time with a paintbrush in your hand. This practice is especially effective at the end of the day before preparing or eating dinner.”
If an expert told you this was fact, would your heart leap? Or would you be disappointed that you had to cut back on spin class? Not everyone loves interacting with color, but if you are reading this blog I suspect you may be one of those people that finds creative expression to be a necessity — like breathing.
I know you think I’m kidding, maybe to poke fun at the diet industry or to push my love of painting, but I’m serious about this. The main reasons diets fail is simply because food makes us feel better. The conversation should not be about willpower, but how can we bridge the hunger gap until eating well becomes a natural response?
Creating a little pocket of painting time will soften the tensions and mend your spirit from the abuse of the day. When you fill your heart with the lovely sensation of color resonance it swells to encompasses your entire abdominal cavity and satisfies the need for so much extra food. The only way to harmonize with your body’s physical needs is to practice self care techniques so that “just enough” becomes a form of pleasure.
I chose rainbows for Dr. Oz’s study because there is no right or wrong way to paint them. It takes no special ability; only a love of seeing red turn into purple turn into blue. I get a lot of comments about my painting “talent” as if I was given a special gift that others were denied. Since most people are convinced they are missing the talent gene, and they are awfully busy anyway, they don’t paint. At all. Kids are encouraged to play with art materials, but I think stressed and hungry adults need fat brushes and juicy tubes of paint even more.
After a certain point rainbows might not make the most satisfying subject matter, so a simple suggestion to help get you take advantage of this amazing weight loss discovery is to make a horizontal line across your paper and paint sky above and water below. The color of the light or clouds can reflect in the water. The first month I was in Hawaii I did almost nothing but paint the water and sky. Granted, I was in a very inspiring location, but it also helped ease my homesick heart. You can look out your window, use a vacation photo or images from magazines. Blur the paint: feel the atmosphere, the vaporous quality of the clouds, the changing light. Just be careful not to judge your efforts or your will cancel out the weight loss benefits.
Don’t deny yourself this simple pleasure. Materials are inexpensive and can be easily stored. If you need an excuse to make the time, I’ve just given you one. The weight loss promise is no joke, with the added benefit that painting makes you more beautiful. I’m not arguing against exercise, fitness, or even in favor of weight loss. I’m pointing out that as a culture we have a way of avoiding addressing what truly ails us.
You can blame me if you paint longer than twenty minutes and dinner is late. If I can help facilitate this for you in any way, please let me know. I am open to suggestions. Perhaps a group paint-in at 5 P.M. a few nights a week? Connecting on FaceTime with an iPad? If you need a list of simple recommended materials to help you get started, I’m happy to send them to you. Email or message me.
There are new sketches and paintings of the water and sky in Hawaii posted in my gallery on pages 8 and 9. For further thoughts on the benefits of painting revisit the end of the chapter on color on page 69 of Growing More Beautiful. “When you make a mark, a portal opens to you, transporting you to a different place. Making just one mark is an entrance to another universe.”