Outside the Medium

You don’t actually have to watch this video. We won’t make you sit through almost 20 minutes of an amateur-quality video about how to paint. Because what does oil painting on canvas have to do with marketing (or increasing sales or improving websites or the value of savvy social media marketing or all the other blog post topics I could choose that DO relate to earning a living)?


I am SO glad you asked! Here’s the deal: this video has more to offer than a painting tutorial (at least, to me it does). It speaks to finding the art inside your soul. I know—that’s a deep topic for a company blog post. Let me explain.

Most of us think of artistic creation as being intrinsically tied to the medium used to express it. So a writer’s creativity is found in stringing together the correct words, right? And a painter’s creativity is found in applying paint with the brushes that correctly create the intended subject. And a musician’s creativity is found in the notes and rhymes that tell the right story. If you have the right tools, you can achieve the right results, right? Surely that’s true?

Well, no. Lately, I keep coming across the idea that the medium is incidental to the creative process. This video shows that better than all my words will, but I like words so I’ll use them anyway.

This guy takes just TWO colors of paint. He sloshes them together and uses a large, unwieldy paintbrush (the bulky kind from a hardware store) to slather a bunch of paint across a canvas. Then he grabs paper towels—PAPER TOWELS! Of all the fancy artist tools!—to smear, smudge, and lift paint off. That is the full and complete list of what goes into this painting: two colors, a broad brush, and paper towels. Oh, except one more thing—his mind. And that’s what makes all the difference.

paintbrush and canvasThis idea plays out in other art forms, too. Like writing a story with only 50 words. Like making a song with only two chords. So instead of making sure you’ve got all the tricks of the trade up your sleeve (not that there’s anything wrong with Photoshop techniques or fancy fonts or hashtags), think about what YOU bring to the table. What’s inside YOU, separate from the medium? That’s what makes it into art. And it’s inside all of us.

Monelle Smith is the Content Director at Gemstone Media, Inc. in Boise, Idaho. Follow her.

P.S. The time between watching the video and driving to the art supply store for two colors of oil paints was 49 minutes, 25 seconds.

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