Sitting in a freezing cold art room, hunched over in the world's most uncomfortable chair, with tears streaming down my cheeks while I painted was an experience that taught me more about myself than anything else I've done. Even the most embarrassing moments of my life did not leave me with a lesson similar to those I learn from creating. For example, the arrays of purples I use have taught me that I'm a person who craves peace, independence, and mystery in life. Of course, these observations aren't limited to me. In fact, this gave me an even greater revelation:
If we can discover the truths of our own hearts by painting, then we can also discover the truths of those we cherish most by painting alongside them. So that's what I did.
Painting reveals what we love most.
My boyfriend would not call himself an artist on most days, but he was still happy when I asked him to paint with me one weekend. When we had spread out all of our supplies, he became frustrated because he wasn't sure what to put onto his canvas.
"Draw something that means a lot to you," I suggested to him.
"But I can't draw you!"
It reveals what has hurt us.
My friend knew I had been staring at her painting for a while. It was a candle that was being blown out on one side while a hand was trying to light it from the other. I wanted to decode the meaning, just as I do for most things in life, but I didn't get the opportunity to ask.
She said, "I'm just trying to be happy." And we left it at that.
And it shows what we look forward to most in life.
My mom asked me one day if we could paint at the kitchen table, and I had never been so excited in my life. Looking at her work later not only proved that she was a talented artist, but it showed me a certain hopefulness in her. She was finishing one last green lead on a tall stem of a flower.
"I can't wait for spring."
The point is, people use art as a way to express themselves. If you want to know the deeper thoughts and feelings of the people you care for most, paint with them. Observe what they create. Worst case scenario, you don't learn anything new about them, but you do have a great time together.