*The cover photo for this post is the most recent picture I painted, based on a photo I took this summer at Parnell Ranch in Sandpoint, Idaho.

Fun comes after homework. It’s the first priority. At least, it should be. But this semester, I learned that’s not always the case. Yes, you need to complete homework, but you’re also a human being with physical needs. Our minds can only take so much before they’re worn down and need some recharge. That recharge comes from something we find joy in or consider fun––sports, working out, playing music, or any other hobby.

I experience the greatest recharge from painting, but I never let myself paint this semester. I spent every last minute of my time working, writing, or completing schoolwork. And that poor choice made me tired which in turn made me become an emotional wreck by the end of the academic year.

I’m doing things differently now and have often painted after difficult days of work this summer. Painting frees me from stress as I brush color across the page. You just can’t paint tensely. It’s pretty much impossible.

A painting of a boot on a chair, based on a magazine ad, that I completed last May.

There’s also something about creativity that gives people purpose. Some people may wonder how hobbies can dramatically change someone’s outlook, yet it’s not actually as mysterious as it seems. Creativity helps people feel productive and like they can use their abilities for a greater purpose. It also helps distract them from the negative things in their life, clear their mind, and escape to a happier place outside of their present reality. I know I go into my own little world when I put on a Tchaikovsky Spotify playlist and watch colors come together as I stroke my brush across the paper. It calms my hyperactive mind and forces me to slow down.

The more I’ve painted this summer, the more I’ve seen my anxiety decrease and don’t feel as scatter brained or tense. There’s more to life than work, even if you enjoy your job. I encourage you to find something you enjoy and pursue that activity when life becomes too difficult to bear. Forget about what’s bothering you for at least a couple hours a day and escape to a whole different world.

A painting of a dog in a truck that I finished in December.

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