Thanksgiving wreaked havoc on our comfortable routine.
My two-year-old fought me at every turn. He refused to eat and refused to nap, and by the end of the weekend the whole family felt irritable.
I excused myself during one of his tantrums to go cry in the car. It didn't help. I returned feeling worse than ever. We ate peanut butter and jelly and watched too much "Diego."
When my son went to bed, I got out my art supplies. I'd enrolled in Ashley Goldberg's online class "Paint. Plan. Play" the week before and wanted to try her scraped paint technique. (It's simple: you just use a credit card to scrape acrylic paint across paper.)
I made about a dozen papers in all, using a mix of pink, mint green and navy blue. My mood brightened. The mental fog cleared. I felt restored.
I've always seen art as a means to an end. I'm making these papers to use in collage. I'm studying composition so I can make better artwork. I'm going to sell these one day.
But that night made me realize that the process is just as important as the product. Because that instant boost in mood meant so much to me. It meant: Maybe I am not spiraling into a lengthy depression. Maybe I am not the world's worst mother. Maybe I don't have to be the world's most talented artist to find joy in making art.
Every time I look at these papers, I feel that same joy. And I know that any time I need a lift in mood, I can break out the paints and make more.
The next night, I turned a few of my favorite painted papers into finished collages. Looking at them makes me happy, too.