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Embracing the unpredictable through paint

We love doing art activities with the youth here at Covenant House Vancouver. It’s fun, it’s relaxing, and you never know when the process of art can help express an important idea.

Case in point, we were doing some acrylic pour painting with the guys at our Male-identified Crisis Program the other evening. The youth love it. The concept is simple and unintimidating, but still produces some beautiful and intricate works of art. The finished products often get displayed on walls in common areas or in bedrooms.

On this evening, I was painting alongside one of the young people. We had a range of different colours spread out on the table before us. As I was working away quietly, I noticed he was getting lost in the process of choosing specific colours, pouring them over his canvas, and then adding dish soap to create some nice “bubble” effects on his work.

Suddenly, he broke out of his concentration and spoke to me in a very calm and thoughtful voice. “You know,” he said, “there’s something really nice about starting a painting but not really knowing how it’s going to turn out.”

I smiled. Turning to him, I used his insight as an opportunity to encourage him to think about that feeling, and even, to embrace it. “Even in my life,” I said, “I know there are lots of moments where I really wished I knew the outcome of something. But we don’t always get that. So, if there’s an opportunity to find peace in not knowing, and to just find joy in the process – that’s a wonderful thing.”

Our conversation ended quietly as my fellow artist shifted his full attention back to his canvas. He tilted it up from the top and watched as the acrylic paint spread slowly down the surface. It created shapes and swirls that neither of us could have predicted.

He nodded and smiled, clearly satisfied and happy with the end result of his work.

Some photos from acrylic paint night: