Stop Calling Me Talented

Let’s stop thinking of ‘talented’ as a rigid concept that is inherent (you are born with it), and let’s start thinking about it as something more fluid. Talent can be built on and it isn’t required in order to have fun or do something really well.

When people like my art they often tell me ‘Oh you’re so talented!’. It’s a lovely compliment to receive, but it always makes me feel a bit funny. ‘Talented’ seems such a rigid concept. You can’t become talented, you either are or you aren’t. It also doesn’t take into account the hard work that came before it. It seems the most prevalent attitude is: I am talented therefore I can paint a nice picture, not: I have practiced therefore I can paint a nice picture.

Talent is cheaper than table salt. What separates the talented individual from the successful one is a lot of hard work.  Stephen King  | www.iris-impressions.com

I’ve touched upon this before in my article about Deserving to Do Art. There seems to be this notion that there are people who are already inherently good at something, and therefore they are allowed to pursue that thing. On the other side there are people who are not inherently good at something, and therefore they shouldn’t bother.

Yes, there are people who pick up a brush for the first time when they’re 20 (or 30 or 40) and create amazing paintings. There are child savants who create art beyond anything I will ever dream of achieving.

That’s not the norm!

If you’re reading this it’s likely you’re more like me: enthusiastic and passionate, but not ridiculously talented in any way. If you think my paintings have anything to do with talent, think again. Instead, it’s hours and hours of practice. It was picking up a brush and creating something that looked crap. It made me never want to paint again, but instead I said ‘never mind’ and kept creating. Until one day (honestly, this day came MUCH MUCH later than I would’ve wanted!) I painted something and thought ‘hey, I actually quite like that!’

The thing that makes me sad though is that often with the compliment from the first paragraph comes a feeling that is left unsaid: ‘you’re talented, but I’m not’. People lament and say they ‘can’t paint faces’. Back to that feeling of you can only do it if you’re already magically good at it; if you’re talented. Want to know a secret? I couldn’t paint faces either! I took some online courses and I practiced, and now I can!

Stop Calling Me Talented | comparison image before and after practisingLOOKIE!! I practised!!! I actually have a soft spot for the one on the left too, even if I can see all the flaws. It looks like she was created with a lot of freedom, even though I didn’t yet have the skill to know where to put the eyes or do the shading.

It’s so easy to get trapped in that thinking of not being able to acquire a skill (or attributing it to the magical ‘talent’, which makes it even more elusive and ‘not for us mere mortals’), especially once we leave full-time education. We’re formed, we’re done, can’t change now!

BUT WE CAN!!! We just need to want it enough!

And we need to put in the work. Don’t let that put you off though, the work can be fun. You can make it fun. Remember how kids learn? By playing! Get out your art supplies and play. Talent schmalent. Fun and fulfillment is where it’s at, and that is achieved by enjoying the process.

In the video below I embrace playfulness in art and create a journal spread based around giving myself permission to create.

Let me know in the comments what you think of the relationship between talent and doing things well!

Trust {it will come} – Art Journal Video

Trust It Will Come | Art Journal Video by www.iris-impressions.com @rrreow

I’m so excited to share a new art video with you all! I really want to create at least one art video a month, but I’ve been struggling to do it because it’s just so time consuming. But hey, tell you a secret, I’ve noticed that I’m getting faster at doing them. Who knew, practice makes me perfect speedy!

Watch me create a happy cheerful art journal page!

There are two specific reasons I’m so excited about this journal page.

ONE I received an email the other day from the lovely Lisa at Artist Cellar telling me I had won a giveaway for a set of stencils!! I love free stuff as much as the rest of us, but omg I WON something (I never win anything, not even at the funfair!) and I won STENCILS!!! I was literally jumping up and down. I think Andrew (my husband) really didn’t understand why I was getting so excited about this, but please tell me you understand. Art supplies are totally worth getting excited about lol!

So you can see me using these stencils in the video. They’re a joy to work with. Very sturdy and I just adore the patterns. I love stencils that can add texture to my backgrounds without being too much someone else’s style. It makes them really versatile.

TWO I actually really like this page! I’m getting to a point where I’m starting to enjoy my own art more and more. Big departure for me as my inner critic used to go completely rampant (before creating, during, after, in between, while I was asleep etc). I was trying to just be quick & free and it WORKED.

For me the meaning of the quote is that I need to trust that things will come along (not that trust will come, but you could read it that way if it resonates better with you!). I find it so hard to trust that my journey is ‘right’ and that I will get the ‘results’ I want. I’m always doubting and doubting some more. So I need to trust that things will come as long as I work hard, and they will come at the right time, and they will be in line with what I need. TRUST.

Trust It Will Come | Art Journal Page | www.iris-impressions.com @rrreow

Trust It Will Come | Art Journal Page detail | www.iris-impressions.com @rrreow

Trust It Will Come | Art Journal Page detail | www.iris-impressions.com @rrreow

Trust It Will Come | Art Journal Page detail | www.iris-impressions.com @rrreow

Supply List

Dylusions Spray Inks (yellow, orange & red), Golden Fluid Acrylics (yellow & orange), Blick matte acrylics (yellow), Americana craft paint (red), Golden gesso, Artist Cellar Quasi stencil, Sharpie paint marker (black), Uni Posca paint marker (white), walnut ink, stamp ink pads (brown & black), letter stamps

What have you been journalling lately?

Connections & An Exciting New Project Art101 Challenge

Connections and Art 101 www.iris-impressions.com @rrreow

Making meaningful connections has been high on my priority list since diving head first into my artistic journey last year. I’ve always felt so isolated, like I have to do everything by myself and that sharing is somehow giving something away, something you can’t get back. I’ve come to realise how important it is to find people you connect with, people you can chat to about your hopes, fears, dreams, business plans, crazy-ass wild ideas!

I recently bought Kelly Rae Roberts’s e-book and with it got access to a group full of lovely ladies with similar goals. I feel I’ve really clicked with some of them and it’s exciting to support each other on our journeys to becoming creative business goddesses!

The other day Stephanie from Two Raggy Doodles shared a really inspiring TED talk (when are TED talks ever not inspiring, right?!! They always make me feel so excited and like the world is a better place!).

As a result she came up with the Art101 Challenge. Me and a group of artists are going to challenge ourselves, and set a specific individual goal, to create art over the course of 101 days and support each other in doing so.

I am umming and ahhing a bit about my specific challenge. Some people are doing 101 artworks in 101 days, but I know that is too much for me at the moment (see my previous post about self-care and taking a step back from doing too much!). I think I will aim for around 2 artworks a week, which rounded up would be 30 artworks in 101 days. Doable, yet it will push me to actually create and finish things in a deliberate way.

The challenge starts on 1 June and I’m so excited!! I’ll be adding a page with links to all the participants shortly. I will be keeping you up to date with progress on my blog and on social networks (I post most often on Instagram with current works in progress, so you can follow me on there).

Am I An Artist?

am-i-an-artist

Am I an artist just by virtue of calling myself one? When I create art, does that automatically make me an artist? Can I even call what I create ‘art’? Why is this word ‘artist’ so important, and what power does it hold over me? These are questions that occupy my mind often and I think are important to pay some attention to in order for them not to become obstacles on my journey of creating art and being an artist.

am-i-an-artist-detailHas anyone ever given you a compliment on your art, only for you to quickly dismiss it or downplay it? For example I often find myself saying “Oh it’s only a hobby”. As if my art is not as arty as someone else’s, simply because it’s not my day job. If I accept that compliment, truly, it becomes a scary tentacle monster with lots of expectations. It becomes a gateway for judgement, because WHOA if I call myself an artist then I must tick the boxes of what other people think an artist is or should be.

I don’t know what other people think, but I know they’re out there, ready to judge, ready to trample my fragile budding artist soul. Better to not call myself an artist at all actually and crawl back in my cocoon of safety where I never risk anything or put myself OUT THERE. Isn’t it funny though, because I have no such problems with calling myself a mother. I became a mother automatically when I gave birth to my first son. I might be concerned sometimes with being a good mother, whatever the hell that means, but a mother I am, for sure, no question. So why is art so special that I feel creating it doesn’t automatically make me an artist? Whose permission am I waiting for to call myself an artist?

Face it, in order to reach our potential and be fulfilled we need to take risks. It’s the easy option to let your fear of what other people think inhibit you being yourself. That way you never have to face your fear, you never have to own up to it, and you never have to truly admit that it is PART OF YOU. The roots of your fear may lie in other people in the past (don’t we all have those childhood scars?), but the change lies with you right here, right now. Stop externalising your fear, OWN IT!

am-i-an-artist-quoteHave you ever noticed that people tend to treat you in accordance with how you present yourself? A confident person gets treated with respect. A shy person gets ignored. If you meet someone new and you ask what they do and they say “I’m an artist”, are you going to ask for their qualifications to make sure they’re really an artist? No, you’re going to accept it just as you would have if they’d said they’re a teacher or an architect or a mother.

If it doesn’t sound too cultish (lol), then please join me in saying that: From this day forward I will call myself an artist and not apologise for it.

It’s Not Automatic – Deserving To Do Art

deserving-to-do-art

From a young age I feel I have always been given the message that if you’re not good at something, you shouldn’t do it.You are only ‘allowed’ to pursue something if you’re already magically good at it. Kids who are good at drawing should keep drawing. Kids who are not good at drawing shouldn’t bother.

We say things like: “Oh I can’t draw” or “I will never be good at painting” or “So and so is much better than me”. You didn’t wake up one day speaking your native language the way you do today. You learned over time. It was most likely an automatic process that you didn’t notice, but it took TIME and you were LEARNING. However, when it comes to anything creative, it’s as if we feel that the ‘talented’ are deserving of pursuing their art, but the ‘untalented’ are not.

deserving-to-do-art-quoteA friend of mine in primary school loved drawing. She was ‘good at drawing’. I put that in inverted commas, not because she wasn’t, but because it’s a problematic label. She drew a lot and consequently was ‘better at drawing’ than many of the other kids. She got a lot of praise for being good at drawing and I compared my drawings to hers and felt disappointed and why should I bother as I wasn’t as ‘good’ as her.

As an adult she’s a rather accomplished artist now. I love her art. It is very rich and technically detailed. She didn’t wake up as a 28-year-old who could suddenly create amazing art. If she had stopped doing art as a little girl and picked up a pencil now, she wouldn’t be creating what she is right now. She’s had a lifetime of practice.

The above example shows how incredibly logical it is that you need practice to get better, and yet we tell ourselves we are not talented enough or not good enough as a reason not to do it!!

On the parenting forums/blogs I read there definitely seems to be a trend towards praising the effort rather than the result. It’s the approach I cognitively believe in and is how I’m raising my kids. And yet… that message from my childhood runs deep. It runs deep in my thinking, and I can see it runs deep in a lot of other people’s thinking as well. These wounds created in childhood are hard to heal!!

When I think back to my childhood I can think of a handful of things that happened that stopped the creative soul inside me in its tracks. My teacher laughing at a drawing I did. My mother telling me I needed more practice when I showed her a painting I’d done (not a horrible thing to say in itself, but that was the only comment). I think every child encounters these types of moments but the importance lies in how these moments are handled. How can a child be encouraged to move past these painful roadblocks? Hopefully not like me, with the decision that I shouldn’t bother drawing or painting.

I feel resentment because of these things that happened to me as a child. As a child you don’t have the life experience or emotional maturity to put things in perspective, ignore the haters or question the validity of a statement/opinion. Especially when the voices are those we trust (parents, teachers) to tell us ‘the truth’. I feel sadness for my child self and what I went through and the consequences that spill over into my adult life. It is very very hard to unlearn the patterns of thinking we learned as a child.

However, and this is the big turning point, as an adult I now do have the benefit of life experience and emotional maturity (ish *grin*) to start doing something about this. I can’t turn back the clock and undo the scars, but I can think to myself ‘Hey, those people so long ago, they don’t need to dictate my thinking in the present’. I can tell myself this every day, and believe me, I need to, in order to quieten those voices in my head that tell me I don’t deserve to do art because it’s not inherently ‘good enough’ or I’m not inherently ‘talented enough’.

I have the power to choose to do this and I empower myself by deciding to create art despite the emotional obstacles and negative voices in my head. Every time I decide to do something creative I am not just ‘getting better’ in a technical sense (i.e. by practicing), I am also growing as a person. I am recognising that I myself hold the power to start to heal my own wounds.