Tiny, Temporary Art

When people discover that I am a nailart enthusiast I am met with varying reactions.

Some are genuinely interested, but extremely surprised by how much I can wax lyrical on the topic.

A small proportion seem impressed from an artistic point of view – they are generally creative and appreciate time dedicated to the arts.

But the response I think I sympathise with the most is the slightly patronising smile which seems to question ‘why bother spending so much time on tiny, temporary art?  Clearly she has far too much time on her hands – quite literally’.

I too have asked myself the same question.  Why do I spend an hour of my week (sometimes more) painstakingly painting my nails only to remove any evidence of my work a week later?


These glitter placement nails, for example, took over two hours to complete.

I have set about trying to justify it to myself, so here are the arguments for it, in case anyone else was wondering the same thing.

1. The beauty of photography

Although my nailart might be wiped away after a few days, the wonderful thing about photography is that the memory lives on.  I have a terrible memory, but by taking photos of each design I am reminded of the satisfaction I felt in completing a set of nails and that sense of achievement is renewed every time I look through my nailart photos archive.

2. The beauty of compliments

I’ll never forget the moment when someone at school taught me to ‘forget the insults but remember the compliments’.  Wise advice, but it is so hard to do and more often than not, I think we get it the wrong way round.  But if I make an effort to remember the positive things that people have said about my nails, then that affirmation lives on and can lift my mood if any doubts start settling in.

3. The beauty of relaxing

I was watching a reality TV show with my sister the other day and when it finished, I muttered something about having just wasted an hour of my life.  Her response was that relaxing is never a waste of time.  I guess the same can be said of me and painting my nails.  It is a form of relaxation for me and therefore is certainly not a waste of time.  A good friend of mine has often said that she envies my ability to switch off and relax.  I had presumed that everyone was good at it – I hadn’t realised before that it was such a skill.  If it is, I’m glad I’ve mastered the art of it!

4. The beauty of practice

Malcolm Gladwell wrote in Outliers: The Story of Success that ‘Practice isn’t the thing you do once you’re good.  It’s the thing you do that makes you good.’  He is the person that coined the theory that it takes 10,000 hours to become an expert at something.  On the basis that I paint my nails for about an hour a week, at this rate it will take me 190 years to become an expert!  But I guess every little helps and the great thing is that the skill lives on and over time I’ll keep seeing improvements.

Here you can see how I have progressed at leopard print nails over a six month period.

I think I’m gradually getting better.

So, an hour a week for good memories, affirmation, relaxation and increased skill – I’d say that was pretty good value for time invested.  When I think of it, it’s not even 1% of my waking hours.  What could you do with an hour a week?


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