Friday, January 25, 2013

Fear of failing. Fear of creating

Most people's first reaction when they hear the words 'art' or 'creativity' is to say "I'm not artistic. I can't draw. I'm not creative." My response to that is baloney, I laugh in the face of the naysayers! I used to say exactly the same thing, and believed it for years. Now I AM an artist.

Everyone of us is creative, and at some point in our lives we were all artists. Remember the drawings we did every day as children? Bubble gum pink taffeta Princesses, fire breathing dragons, ancient mossy dinosaurs, our houses and families. They were beautiful and creative, and everyone knew exactly what we had drawn.



We were proud to show them off and display them for everyone to see. Somewhere along the way encouragement to play with crayons and rainbow coloured markers teetered off. Instead we were told to do something 'constructive'. Learn all the prime numbers (which I use ALL the time! Said hardly anyone ever....) or memorize all the Presidents of the United States.

While information is valuable and fun to collect, (I'm always seeking new information) the ability to express ourselves creatively is also valuable. The more I immerse myself in creativity, the more creative ideas pop into my head. It becomes like a party of ideas in there!

We have all heard that music and art in schools helps kids with their other subjects, yet we relegate music and art to extra curricular activities that only the "talented" kids get to do. Can you imagine what things would be like if we were all encouraged to keep at it?

Generative research shows that everyone has creative abilities. With more training, and more diverse training, your potential for creative output increases. Sir Ken Robinson talks about how we lose our creativity over time at TED Talks.

When I was a kid I remember attempting to carve animals out of the rejected bits of soap I'd find in the bathroom. I thought that throwing them away was a waste, and so collected them all up and planned to make a fantastic menagerie that would become world-famous, and be shown in art galleries and museums around the world. I can vividly remember gathering all my materials and tools and setting to work. In the end I would became so frustrated with what I thought were my failures, I gave up and threw it all away. I convinced myself I wasn't talented and would never be artistic.

As the years wore on I was continually stunted by my thoughts of inadequacy as a creative being. All the while I dreamed of creating something so beautiful it would make people weep with joy. I pined for the ability to draw and paint, to express myself through all kinds of mediums. I envisioned myself as one of those 'cool artists' with paint in my hair and splashes of colour on all my clothes. The years went by and nothing happened. I continued to let the fear of failing restrain me from drawing and painting. Eventually I avoided all things artsy (except for the zillions of doodles I did on all my notebooks and journals). Until one day I was asked to be the foster guardian of a tool kit full of paints and paint brushes.

I held onto that box. Took it out every now and then to lovingly gaze at the colours and promise of what they could be. The paint brushes were well used and had paint crusted on the handles, to me they were like precious jewels.

Then one day I woke up with a wild picture of colour and texture in my head and thought maybe I could create it using the paints I was fostering. I waited and waited for the right moment until one day I just couldn't wait anymore. I pulled out the paints, poured out some water and found a t-shirt to stand in for a canvas. I brushed midnight blue, sea green, foamy whites, and specks of magenta and lemon yellow onto the dampened shirt. The colours were vibrant and they bloomed like flowers across the material - they were beautiful, and I was thrilled. I had finally done art. I had made something. Everyone praised it and mentioned how they thought they could never do something like it.

I laugh about it now because that's what I always used to say and I came to believe it. Now I believe anyone and everyone is an artist and is creative. It's just a skill that needs to be nurtured.

Since then, only about eight years ago, I have learned how to carve soapstone, sculpt with clay, paint and draw. I can even draw a reasonably good face now (that's my drawing at the top of this post). I am a reluctant drawer, as I still have doubts about my ability, but I know the truth behind it now. I have been practising, and now I want to share it with everyone. I want to convince others that they can create too and that it is fun. If I can do it I figure anyone can do it. It just takes some time and practice, and since it's fun to do, it's not a chore!

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