We all have a bucket list—that agenda of intentions and dreams that we promise to one day fulfill. Some of us write them down, others keep these goals safely tucked inside our minds. Many of us vow to enact our aspirations later, at an undefined future moment. Or we wait for a somber reminder of life’s brevity to kick-start our dedication to the now. While it may seem sensible to toss aside lofty ambitions in lieu of our mundane everyday demands, our general life experience will grow more enriching with each uncharted plunge. The satisfaction we garner from new and successful experiences can strengthen our self-image and overall health, and improve our quality of life.
While some bucket list items require financial freedom or extensive time, others—including most artistic desires —are quite attainable. If your bucket list is devoid of a creative endeavor, make room for it! With just a pinch of commitment, art can quite literally decorate your life. Artistic aspirations don’t have to include inaccessible destinations; no need to jump on a plane to visit the Mona Lisa in Paris, or Michelangelo’s David in Florence. These types of iconic works of art can barely breathe amidst the surrounding throngs of photographing tourists —many of whom visit the art works for no other reason than to say they did so, paying little attention to the experience itself. The basic act of making art can deliver an uplifting, self-enhancing experience that rivals standing before a famous work of art.
Pablo Picasso said, “Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.” Indeed, most of the creative undertakings of our childhoods fall to the wayside once our adult lives become bogged with schedules and responsibilities. But the joy from artistic experimentation can still be generated, with little more than a simple exploration of materials. When we release prior ideas of how a material (like clay or pastels or glass) should feel and look, working with it will heighten our sensations as well as our ability to remain present. When we relinquish control and embrace the artistic process, our imaginative, problem solving, and expressive faculties come to life.
- Start a year-long journey of exploration. Choose twelve exciting projects that you can honestly complete in one year’s time. Include projects that encompass experiences you crave, but for which you haven’t found the necessary time, energy, or courage. Each month, devote yourself to an item, so that after one year, every item on your list is checked off.
- Start with a project or experience artistic in nature. Think about a medium that you’ve always been curious about, and explore it. Read about it, and set aside quiet time to try it at home. Enroll in an art class, or sign up to use an open studio space so you can experiment with your chosen medium. If you’ve always been awed by sculpture, for example, sign up for a one-month weekly sculpture class. Or, gather a group of friends and register for a one-night painting class, some of which even offer wine alongside instruction!
- Reflect on your new artistic experience. Once you’ve completed your first task, take a moment to journal about the experience, asking yourself the following questions: What did the medium feel like? Did you feel confident working with it? Did you experience frustration, excitement, fear or a mixture of emotions? What sentiments arose during your creative process? Did this experience leave you feeling more capable, creative, and inspired? Ask yourself similar questions after each of your adventures, recording your answers in a diary to document this year-long journey.