Guest Blog by Cathy Carpenter
2020 has been a difficult year for everyone. For me personally, due to Covid, my grandmother died in New York in April, and I got put on furlough and then laid-off from my job of 14 years in June. One primary thing that has helped me get through the year is my creative practice.
Last year, I was giving myself monthly creative challenges and I wanted to try something more long-term for 2020. I looked at different project options and it came to my attention that there are 366 different species of parrot, and 2020 is a leap year with 366 days, so I thought painting a parrot each day in my sketchbook would be a great long-term challenge. I looked up parrots as a totem animal and they represent “a world full of magic and possibilities that are waiting for us.”
Of course, I couldn’t know in January how fortunate this choice would be. I built a calendar for the year, so I know which species I’m painting each day. Each week, I search internet images of the next seven parrots coming up so I know exactly what to paint. I made it as easy as possible to keep up with my challenge. I sit down, pull up the daily image, and start my sketch.
Painting these parrots everyday is something I look forward to. Their bright colors and charming expressions make me smile on even the most stressful of days. Painting brings me into the present moment, where I’m not thinking about the past or worried about the future, I’m just focusing on the lines making up the shape of a parrot and how to mix my watercolor paints to match the color of her wings. It is an act of kindness I give myself. Each one typically takes me only about 15 minutes. After I finish a parrot, I feel brighter too, softer and more relaxed.
This creative practice has really been a gift to me each day. It is giving me a thread to hold onto and follow through uncertain times. It is giving me a little window of magic and possibility, which helps me stay optimistic and hopeful. It is giving me 366 morsels of peace and beauty in a difficult time.
You can see over 60 of my parrots at the #366parrots hashtag on Instagram (https://www.instagram.com/explore/tags/366parrots/).
Bio: Cathy Carpenter is an artist, writer, and creativity coach, still seeking a new day-job. She lives with her husband, step-son, and cat in Broomfield, Colorado. You can see more of her art on Instagram (https://www.instagram.com/catcar333/) or visit her website, Exploring Your Depths (http://exploringyourdepths.com/).