Keeping sane during lockdown: Painting

Keeping sane during lockdown: Painting

by Stacy Roman
Stripes Europe

The roller coaster of emotions over the past year has been full of ups, downs, sharps turns and plenty of corkscrews. As an eternally optimistic person, admittedly, it’s been hard to find the light at times. There have been bright spots; however, the past two versions of lockdown hit harder. The reality of my oldest child graduating, receiving a PCS assignment to a place we haven’t been yet and not being able to stretch our travel legs before we leave came crashing down. Looking for an outlet to either quiet or numb the swirling vortex of thoughts in my mind, I found something that helped—paint-by-numbers.

When I first saw a friend (who has completed 14 of them) working on it on social media, I giggled. Paint-by-numbers? Seriously? I remember using the kits as a kid; a neatly adjoined row of small plastic pots filled with primary colors and either a sturdy piece of paper or canvas with large numbers printed on them. Once finished, the masterpiece usually had a creepy-looking clown or something resembling an animal staring back at you. As I looked at the paintings my friend had done, I was happy to see there were no clowns, and they looked a lot more aesthetically pleasing. I decided to give it a go.

I ordered my first kit from Amazon and was surprised at how small and flat the package was. Surely this wasn’t all of the paint, paintbrushes and canvas? Unwrapping it, there were 24 tiny wells of paint, three brushes and a folded-up canvas. My immediate reaction was that there was no way this would be enough paint. I’d done enough paint-and-sip nights to know I’d need more. Then I saw the canvas. It resembled a topographic map more than a street scene in London. Taking a deep breath, I popped open the pot labeled “1” and began.

I sat at my kitchen table for a good hour or so. As I painted, I let my mind wander and sort through the jumbled thoughts in my brain. They followed whatever tangent they needed to in order to work through the stress and anxiety I had been feeling. A sense of calm washed over me, and I felt more at peace than I had in a while. It took me a good week to finish, but as I worked on it, I was happy. The panic-inducing anxiety of the past year and upcoming events melted away during the hours I painted.

Trust me, I get how silly it sounds. Did paint-by-numbers really alleviate some of the lockdown insanity and impending PCS craziness? For me, it did. Letting my inner-child play for a few hours a day and having my mind work itself out has helped keep me calm and achieve a little bit of clarity. Not to mention, I have a few new pieces of art to hang in my workspace when we move.

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