A month ago, I interviewed someone for my column in The Star who told me that one of his interests outside of work is baking. “I bake insanely. Baking is very therapeutic for me, especially when I’m stressed with work,” he said. “Baking is a science; I don’t have to think about it, and I just follow the recipe. I love coming home and baking a cake or brownies, and I’ll take it to work the next day because I won’t eat it. So for those couple of hours, I don’t have to think about work; I’m just following a recipe and watching a cake rise. It’s amazing.”
Even though it didn’t occur to me then, art has the exact same effect on me. And I realized this just two days ago, when I went Art Jamming with Zaida, Kerina, Tasha, Kaiyisah, Muna and Danial.
I think my mother signed me up for art lessons when I started drawing on her dressing table. Every Friday, from 5 PM to 7 PM, for a full decade, I learned to draw and paint from the sweetest little Indian lady whose voice remained at the same pitch no matter how angry she got. I came to like it so much that I started producing paintings for my grandparents’ house and my father’s office, all of which now hang in my parents’ house. But at the end of those 10 years — after my SPM (a high school leaving exam of sorts) art exam, to be exact — I put down my brush and never picked it up again.
So when Kerina suggested we go to The Studio on Saturday, I actually paused to wonder if I even remembered how to pull a picture from my mind and just put it on paper (or canvas, as it were). Turns out, it was like riding a bicycle. And the best part was, since this wasn’t one of my two-hour art lessons, I didn’t need to pay attention to anything except the canvas in front of me (and to not getting paint on my white shorts), so it became extremely easy to tune everyone else out and paint.
After that, my mother told me that I should start painting more often (“It might take your grumpiness away.”), and I had to agree with her. I realized that I had forgotten how therapeutic painting could be, and how good it felt to not have to think about anything or anyone, even for an hour. And if I can give myself a couple of hours of that every day, then it might help me channel some of my rage in a less unhealthy way. And I’m not one to say no to any form of anger management.