How To Push Past Resistance?

push-past-resistance

How to push past resistance? And what is resistance anyway??

First let me start off by stating that I LOVE the art I’ve been doing recently. It seems like a barrier (probably self-imposed) has been lifted. I used to feel like every piece I did had to be different and original otherwise I was somehow failing (ridic, right?). Now I feel I’m able to follow my favourite steps and techniques and work with limited supplies to create a cohesive body of work over the course of a few weeks/months and hone my skills (and HAVE FUN! So important).

BUT, and this is the big BUT… although I feel I’m developing, I don’t feel like I’m pushing myself to fulfilling my potential. I have this (not so secret) wish to make more technically accomplished and complex art. Not just that, but art with feeling, expression and emotion, art that comes from deep inside.

There are a few artists I really admire (e.g. Renata Loree, Ivy Newport, Robin Laws) whose art possesses a wealth of soul and complexity. Now I know it’s no use to compare my own work to other people’s work, that’s a given. But I am struggling with not knowing whether it’s a style I WANT to pursue myself or simply like looking at because it pleases me aesthetically. You can enjoy good food without actually being a master chef yourself if you get what I’m saying.

So the first question is really: IS this resistance or not? Am I painting simple quick art journal pages because that’s my deepest desire and what I need to be doing right now, or because I am afraid of going deeper, more detailed and spending more time…?

This has been a theme in my life for as long as I can remember. I find it hard to invest time. I rush through things, wish they were finished before even starting and I find it very hard to stay with them. Hence art journaling and small simple paintings fitting in really well with this tendency. But then how do I ever get to the point where I can invest? Invest time and attention to myself, my art, without wishing to rush through it? And if I engage in this exercise (for example working on a painting that takes days or weeks to complete, not hours) how do I get past that feeling of unease, that feeling of not enjoying myself or not knowing what to do or where things will go? (Aha it becomes apparent to me yet again that I like being in control… hilarious right for someone who teaches people to let go of the outcome..? *gigglesnort*)

I want more out of my art, but I want more with grace & ease, not discomfort or unease. Am I asking too much?

I’m not sure if I can know the answers to these questions right now, but I know I feel a certain excitement. The excitement of my own potential. The gift I can give myself of time, of knowing that I’m allowed to wonder, allowed to find out, allowed to try. All my life I’ve lived with a feeling of ‘I must’, so I’m experimenting with the notion of ‘I am allowed’ and go from there.

This is a piece I did a few months ago in which I feel I captured a little bit of what I’m talking about (even though this was still definitely a quick piece)

Portrait in art journal by Iris Fritschi-Cussens

Giving Up?

Ever Feel Like Giving Up On Your Art?

Do you ever get so frustrated with your art that you just want to throw in the towel? Bin it? Give up?

I’m currently teaching in several places (Let’s Face It & Love Art Happy Life) and apart from the wonderful work that is being posted, people also sometimes express their frustration. Their annoyance at not getting it right or not drawing what they see in their mind’s eye. I read about people throwing their art in the bin or ripping it up.

My heart feels heavy when I see people being so hard on themselves!

I really understand that feeling, that annoyance and disgust at what was supporsed to be wonderful, but ended up severely lacking. I’ve never binned my art, but in a way I binned my creativity for years: by simply not creating for fear of creating something disappointing (again).

For me I want art to be something joyful, even if I recognise that it is sometimes a struggle (believe me, I struggle). Getting the balance right is actually a really big part of my wish for self-care and self-respect. Shooting yourself down actually adds another layer of suffering on top of the already existing disappointment of not liking something or something not working out right.

I feel so sad thinking about the fact that so many of you experience this, I want to share my tips for allowing art to be a more joyful experience.

1. Struggle. First of all, let’s just sit with the fact that we sometimes struggle. Life can be a struggle, art can be a struggle. And that is OK. Struggle is not something to be avoided at all cost or a marker of not doing it right. It just happens. Sometimes we struggle with something physical (e.g. art techniques) or emotional (e.g. confidence). If we interact with the struggle and face it it can help us actually get further on our journey. It helps us grow.

2. Letting Go Of The Outcome. I know I harp on a lot about letting go of the outcome *grins* but it’s just so relevant! The art you create simply is. It is not good, it is not bad, it just is. WHY do we want to throw it in the bin, or annihilate ourselves or rip it up? It’s about attaching an importance to it being something ELSE. As long as we’re focussed on wanting it to be anything other than what it is, we’re creating disappointment and suffering for ourselves.

3. Noticing. Being able to think critically and assess our work is a strength and can help us improve, but there is a difference between observing and criticising/annihilation. When you notice instead of judge, you’re simply observing what is. You can then absorb that knowledge in a positive way, rather than a judgy feel-bad-about-yourself-way. It’s the difference between “The eyes are all wrong! It’s ruined!” and noticing “The left eye is smaller than the right eye. I don’t enjoy the look that creates, next time I will try to pay more attention to getting the eyes the same size”.

4. Be Where You Are At. It’s so tough in this online world not to compare ourselves. I don’t know about you but my Facebook feed is filled with wonderful art from amazing artists all over the world. Everyone is doing their own thing and everyone is on their own path. Consuming dozens or hundreds of pictures of what other people are doing can really affect my confidence about what I am doing myself. I start comparing myself and wishing my art was ‘a little more like this’ or ‘a little less like that’. When I compare myself to others I’m treating myself so unfairly, because really I can’t compare myself to anyone other than myself! I’m Iris, I’ve been painting on and off since 2008 and consistently since 2013. I paint a few times a week. I tend to choose expression and play over technical skill and practice. I’ve not been to art school. I’ve followed some online classes. I love trying different materials. Etc etc etc (everyone has their own unique story). The art I’m making is a beautiful reflection of who I am at this point in time, and I am exactly where I need to be.

Say it with me now:

The art I’m making is a beautiful reflection of who I am at this point in time, and I am exactly where I need to be

I really hope that the above will give you some of the tools that have helped me get out of the critical judging way of approaching art and into a more accepting and joyful way of doing art.

If you have any tips I’d love to hear them, please leave a comment below!

5 Reasons You’re Not Happy With Your Art Journal Pages

http://iris-impressions.com/2015/09/5-reasons-youre-not-happy-with-your-art-journal-pages/
photo credit: Broken Flowers via photopin (license)

I know very well what it’s like to want to do art, but every time you sit down and do it, you’re feeling crappy about the result. It’s really inhibiting and it might even stop you from creating next time. I don’t want that for you (or for myself)! So here are some insights that might help you understand why this happens and what you can do to change it.


1. You need practice

There is no way around it: practice makes progress. There are no shortcuts and you have to put in the time. Imagine you’re going to learn a language, it will take some weeks to grasp the basics, quite a few more to be semi-proficient and several years to be fluent. The more you practice making art, the more fluent you become and the easier it will be for you to create things you like, simply because of your skill level.

I love this quote:

Never compare your beginning to someone else’s middle
-Jon Acuff

Another awesome resource is this video with words from Ira Glass. It’s called ‘The Gap’ and is about that ‘gap’ that exists between knowing what art you find beautiful and actually being able to achieve it yourself.


2. You are attached to the outcome

Leading on from the concept of ‘the gap’ explained above, it’s very frustrating if you have something specific in mind and aren’t quite able to execute it as nicely as you see it in your imagination. This partly comes back to practice, but another thing that you can try which to me absolutely transforms the process of art making is: to let go of the outcome.

Art is weird and wonderful, it’s a process, not just paint by numbers. Try and place yourself firmly in the current moment, rather than in the future where this finished (perfect) artwork exists. What can you do now that you enjoy, that is an expression of yourself? Let the art emerge from moment to moment, rather than working towards a fixed outcome.

An example of this might be that you are going to paint a portrait. But instead of trying to make it picture perfect or photo realistic, let it come alive through your personal filter of your mind, hands & body. This is actually where the most original art comes from in my opinion!


3. You need to add more detail

One of the things I notice a lot in the art of beginners is that it somehow looks unfinished or unrefined. It’s not necessarily a lack of technical skill (I think beginner’s art can have a great sense of freedom! As well as art made by kids) but a lack of going back in and making things look complete. It’s probably also to do with confidence. I see this in how people shade faces, they know where to put the shadows and the highlights but they’re not confident enough to make it BOLD. Make the darks really dark and let the highlights pop out!

You’ll be surprised at how a painting can transform by just paying a bit more attention to the details and finishing touches. Pay attention to shadows/highlights, use outlines and shading, create halos around people/objects, add little doodles or dots.


4. You’re working against your supplies

There are no rules about how you must use your art supplies (or which specific supplies to use), but there are definitely ways in which to use them effectively and ways in which to use them that make you want to scream and tear your hair out!

You’ll have to experiment yourself with specific things that feel frustrating that might be solved by a different technique (try Googling or a search on YouTube!), but here are some things that I’ve found frustrating and ideas on how to make them better.

Paper pilling (rubbing off / forming little balls):

-Use gesso first or a layer of acrylics. Make sure this layer is thoroughly dry before continuing

Paint not applying smoothly:
-Dilute slightly with water or matte medium/PVA glue
-Work BIGGER! Tiny fiddly work is especially hard when you’re a beginner. Scale up and then when you’ve gained experience, scale down again
-Use different or better quality brushes

Backgrounds look muddy or brown instead of vibrant (also especially applicable while Gelli printing):
-Try not to mix complementary colours (blue/orange, purple/yellow, red/green)
-Only apply either cool colours (blues/greens/cool purple) or warm colours (red, yellow, orange) together.
-Dry thoroughly in between layers.


5. You’re doing the wrong thing

Why are you doing this? Whose art are you making? I often fall into the trap of seeing other people’s art and admiring it so much that I want to recreate it or I want my art to look like that. So off I go on a very results orientated journey, which I often find very frustrating and unfulfilling. So ask yourself what your goal is. How do you want to feel? What do you really want to make? How do you like using your supplies? Why do you want to create art in the first place?

There are no right answers to these questions, just your answers that will give you an insight into your personal whys and hows.


If you’ve got any tips to share, please post them below in the comments! Can’t wait to hear what your favourite methods are for enjoying making art.

Why Do I Create Art?

why-do-i-create-art[image by Fré Sonneveld]

The simple (and slightly vague) answer is, because it fills my soul. I can’t not create art. I live a full life raising two kids and running a business so it often happens that I can’t create art for a few days. When that happens I just don’t feel quite right, I start getting frustrated and I just feel that pull of needing to create!

I guess that all sounds lovely and divinely inspired, but I want to level with you:

It hasn’t always been this way for me

For years I dabbled with art, stopping and starting, struggling to find a groove, not finding it to be that amazing creative holy grail that I thought it would be. I looked at other people creating their amazing art in their own unique style and it felt SO FAR REMOVED from my reality. It was pretty disheartening.

I kept coming back to it though. There was an attraction to art and to creating art that I couldn’t deny, but I had to do some work on coming to it from the right place, even though at first I didn’t even realise I was coming to it from the wrong place. That ‘place’ I am talking about is how you approach making art in your mind and in your heart.

And I’ll tell you a secret:

It has nothing to do with whether you can or can’t draw

I didn’t fully grasp until the beginning of 2014, when I picked ‘journey’ as my word of the year, that I had been approaching art in a results focussed way, rather than as a process. I wanted to create certain paintings, inspired by what I loved seeing other artists create. I thought the joy was in the completed piece, in the end result. I never thought about how I wanted the creating process to feel or whether that could be something enjoyable too.

Or I thought it was one of those elusive things reserved for other people. They know how to enjoy creating art, but I don’t. Or I attached it to skill: I will start enjoying creating art when I can draw a photo realistic portrait.

I started focussing more on the process. What did I like doing, what materials did I enjoy using, what was it I needed to let go of, what was it I needed to invite more of into my heart & mind? The biggest change that this brought was the realisation that what other people do or like or use does NOT have to be same same as me.

That realisation set me free

I admit that I still get tripped up with this sometimes. I look at the work of artists I admire and I start thinking that because I LOVE their work, somehow my art needs to be like theirs.

It doesn’t.

Asking myself what I like doing and the other questions above, has been transformational. Your answers will probably be completely different from mine: CELEBRATE THAT!

Get to know your own unique loveable fallible quirky amazing self

I realised my passion is doing faces. I don’t like ‘colouring in’ (illustration-type work). I ADORE acrylics but I don’t care as much for watersoluble media. I need(ed) to let go of perfection and the wish for my art to look like other people’s art. I needed to invite more trust in, that my work is just right, right now.

Reading back what I’ve written above makes me feel so excited and amazed that I’ve come so far! It also makes me hopeful that if you are on any stage along a similar journey that you will find reading my story helpful and it will help you be a happier person and artist!

Why do YOU create art?

Let me know in the comments below.

I’m Still Fighting – Dealing With Artist Block

Do you have feelings of self-doubt, or do you feel blocked in relation to creating? I do.

When we moved house in 2009 I finally had the space for a dedicated art desk. I was so excited!! But I ended up spending very little time there. I went through quite a few years of feeling too scared to create. The inner negative voices were just too strong. Until one day I just felt like I couldn’t continue this life of not creating.

I’m lucky enough to be at a point now where creating is a habit (it wasn’t an automatic process though! This was hard work pushing through a lot of ‘Urgh, I suck’ thoughts). I usually like what I create even, but I find I do still experience an almost continuous feeling of blockedness.

Don't Need Anything Else | mixed media in A5 journal | www.iris-impressions.com @rrreow

When it comes to being an artist and sharing online, you often see the finished product. You see the stuff the artist wants to share and it gives a bit of a false impression of having it all figured out. You don’t see the struggle. You might even assume there isn’t one.

I struggle. Even accomplished artists struggle as I was surprised and relieved to find out on reading this post by Flora Bowley (she offers some helpful tips for getting unstuck too!).

So I just wanted to let you know that even though I’ve come a long way, and I’m very proud of what I’ve achieved, I am still fighting. I am fighting with the block and negative feelings. But I am also fighting against them and continually trying to push through.

These Thoughts They Keep Growing | mixed media on 12x10" canvas board | www.iris-impressions.com @rrreow

My blocks and challenges change over time. I work through one, and another comes up. I come out the other side with more experience, learning and confidence.

Push against those blocks. Challenges are where we grow. This is where the magic happens.

How do you cope with feeling blocked?

What Makes You Come Alive? Go Do It!!

I’ve been having some major learning experiences lately with regards to listening to my inner voice. However, it’s funny, I tend to reach certain conclusions about things, like major lightbulb AHA! moments, and then as life goes on I completely forget them and start making the same mistakes again! So then I have to become conscious of what I’m doing again, to get more in line with my true self aaand the circle continues. Hopefully at some point something will stick, right? So, my recent learnings, let me share them with you!

One of the MAIN things I’ve learned these past months is that when it comes to anything you do creatively (painting, blogging etc) you need to do what makes YOUR heart sing. Not what you think other people want to see, what you think you should (such a dirty word!) do or what your parents want you to do. The quickest way to burnout and not feeling enthusiastic is doing stuff that isn’t true to what your inner wisdom is telling you is RIGHT for you. Do what YOU want and your passion and enthusiasm will be infectious and people will be interested because YOU’RE interested (and therefore interesting).

Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.Howard Thurman | www.iris-impressions.com

Last week I was in such a dark mood. I wasn’t feeling any of my paintings. I spent a lot of time doing social networking stuff and watching TV shows because something was stopping me from getting into the studio. (To be fair though, I was rewatching Dollhouse, which is very very worth every minute spent on it lol) Every time I sat down to work on my paintings I just ended up sitting and staring into space, or telling myself it wasn’t any good, or that I couldn’t come up with the right ideas.

Until I realised that I was expecting myself to create other people’s art! I was berating myself for the fact that my intuitive paintings didn’t look more like Flora Bowley’s work. I thought MY intuitive paintings should look like SOMEONE ELSE’S otherwise they wouldn’t be intuitive enough… BATSHIT INSANE RIGHT?!!! Seriously, looking back on it it’s so obvious where the flaw in my thinking is, but these thoughts really go through my head when I’ve inadvertently given myself over to my inner critical voice.

And then this happened:

Scared Inside | mixed media intuitive painting on 12 x 10" canvas board | www.iris-impressions.com @rrreow

Scared Inside – mixed media on 12 x 10″ canvas board

I gave myself permission to DO MY OWN THING. I’m sure you can still see other people’s influences there, but I wasn’t actively trying to make it look like anything, apart from what was already inside me. I also gave myself permission to make similar shapes to ones I’d already done in previous work. I tend to tell myself that I can’t do the same thing twice or I ‘won’t be original’. It’s not like the masters ever worked with the same themes or imagery..oh wait.. Again with the crazy inner voice!

Part of the ‘problem’ is that there is so much amazing work out there being created by so many amazing people. I love looking at the stuff my artist friends create or things on Pinterest. It’s absolutely inspiring and makes me want to get into the studio (and when I start thinking “I’ll never be as good as…” I quickly try and shoo that voice away!). Where it goes wrong though is when I think ‘Wow what they do is amazing, I must want to do that too’. That’s where there is a really fine line between being inspired by what other people do (totally awesome!) and wanting your work to look like theirs and trying to achieve that (not so fulfilling).

I’ve realised that “What I like” and “What I like doing” don’t have to be the same thing!

What makes you come alive? Let me know and then GO DO IT!!

Top 5 Tips For Doing It – Motivation and Art

top-5-tips-for-doing-art

After my post the other day about having found motivation for doing art I thought I’d share these tips for getting down to business and doing it. Just in time for the weekend to put them into practice!!

There are many reasons why we might not do something we want to do. I wrote the tips below with art in mind, but with some modification they can apply to pretty much anything. The important thing is to find something that works to enable you, to do what you want.

1. Take A Course

Willowing Online CoursesCourses give you an external motivation to do art. They will give you more practical skills, which in turn will increase your confidence. There might be assignments or exercises which walk you through new techniques. This is a much safer way to start something, because there is already a blueprint for doing it: you don’t have to make it up all by yourself.

It can also be motivating to be in a group of like-minded people and to share the results of the lessons and discuss them. By the end of the course you will have completed work you can look back on, feel proud of and see your own progress in. It will be a jumping off point to keep creating.

Places you can find courses: local college (in London you can try City Lit or Morley College), art/craft shop or online. I’ve taken online courses from Tam @ Willowing, Suzi Blu and Adriana Almanza.

2. Distract Yourself

Occupy your conscious mind to access your subconscious mind. I overthink what I do ALL.THE.TIME. My inner critic works overtime when I’m creating a painting. It’s hard to be free and create art from the heart when my mind is so present all the time. Something that can really help is to distract your thinking mind so you free your creative mind to do what it does best. I do this by watching TV while painting (or you could listen to an audiobook, music or have a conversation with someone etc). Following the storyline and dialogue distracts me just enough to let my hand move freely and helps me make organic choices rather than getting stuck on things like which colour to use.

3. Copy Your Favorite Artists

OK this might sound controversial but bear with me. Ask yourself what you like. Whose art makes you happy or evokes strong feelings in you? Create a folder on your computer (or a board on Pinterest) with art that makes your heart sing. Then copy the hell out of it. When you copy something another artist has done it is called a study. Obviously you don’t sell these works or pass them off as your own, but what you are doing is slipping on someone else’s shoes for a bit and in so doing it will help you develop. You are practicing, you are learning your own likes and dislikes and it will spark your own original creative side and eventually develop your own style.

4. Limit Your Options

This world of ours has limitless choices and if you’re anything like me you’ll have an abundance of art supplies. I get almost as excited about buying new art supplies as I do about creating art. I find myself getting overwhelmed and scared when I think about all the supplies I have sitting around waiting to be used. So much potential but how best to use them, in what combination and what to use in this particular painting?

So strip it right down, reduce! Don’t leave the choice open to all your art supplies available. Pick a limited number of supplies you will use. For example I would choose: 4 colours, 2 patterned papers, 1 stamp, gesso & brayer. Then as you gain confidence creating paintings with limited options, you will find you automatically know what other supplies to reach for because you know what your painting needs.

I give a bunch of limited supply suggestions in my art & inspiration guide, so go and download that if you haven’t already. You can also check out some art journaling videos where I created journal spreads with limited supplies.

5. Acknowledge Your Fear

I left this one to last as it’s the most important one and the crux of a lot of motivational problems.

You have finally carved out some you-time to do art and you find yourself with a compelling urge to tidy your desk, or alphabetise your DVD collection, or clean the kitchen or [fill in the blank with your particular distraction]. You don’t actually need to do any of those things, and they certainly have nothing to do with creating art. This is your fear in the driving seat. Your fear is there to protect you, perhaps you’re trying to avoid disappointment or you don’t want to fail or you’re afraid of what other people will think. But for all its noble intentions, your fear holds you back and stops you doing what you actually set aside time to do. Tell yourself ‘thank you very much fear for trying to protect me, but I’d like to do some art now please, so piss off’.

I admit I wrote that last line for comic effect, but the point I’m trying to make is that by acknowledging your fear you bring it into the open. If you see your avoidance behaviour for what it really is – fear – then you can try and move past it or work with it and turn it into creative opportunity. It is also helpful if you can try and identify exactly what is it you are afraid of. Personally I fear creating something ugly and ‘failing’ at being an artist (I hardly feel I’m even allowed to apply that word to myself, a topic for another blog post!). I fear other people’s criticism or lack of interest. I feel I have to be perfect and create perfect art. So for me it helps to acknowledge these issues. I try to give myself permission to practice, see what I’m working on as a process to getting better and try to create things for myself in the first instance.

The fear is always there and sometimes it is louder than other times. It is likely that it will never go away, but you have to arm yourself with techniques that will help you do art despite your fear.

Finally, just try and get on a roll. Start so you may continue. I find that ideas breed ideas and creativity breeds creativity. The more you are doing it, the more you will feel like doing it.

I would love it if you shared in the comments what your top tips are for doing art or any other activity you feel passionate about.

On Change – Motivation To Do Art

on-change-motivation

For years I have been in love with mixed media art and art journaling, but for the longest time I have suffered from some kind of creative paralysis. I would look at other people’s art or read mixed media books or watch art videos or buy lots of art supplies and get crazy excited and inspired. I might even attempt to do art myself but I always ended up disappointed. It wasn’t GOOD enough, I didn’t ENJOY creating it, it was a labour (and not one of love).

So I have a number of art works spanning from about 2008 until early 2013, but there are always big gaps in between. There is no thread, no consistency. When I look back at them I am far less judgemental than I felt at the time of creating them (“How crap! Why should I ever make art again?”), but there is still something lacking. Like they exist in a vacuum. Strange, disjointed one-offs.

Then in the summer of 2013 something changed. It wasn’t a lightning strikes or epiphany moment, but probably more of a gradual shift that culminated at that time. I can’t know for sure the exact reasons, but two things played an important part. The first was therapy. I started seeing a therapist towards the end of 2012. On a short term basis I didn’t notice anything, but as the months passed I slowly started feeling differently. More empowered, more in charge, less confused or clouded (sorry to be so vague! I find it hard to put into words!).

The second thing was having Zephyr, my second son, in June 2013. It gave me confidence, as stuff like that tends to do, but it also marked an important next phase in my life: the chance to start thinking about myself. What do I want, what do I want to achieve, who do I want to be? A sort of awakening after being solely in the ‘mother/pregnant’ role for quite a few years.

So it was in August 2013 that I started doing art, not necessarily every day (circumstances prevent that), but consistently and with joy. What a change! What a difference in how I feel towards it! I haven’t stopped since!

Now at this point in time I’m starting to get to a point where I actually quite like my art, I enjoy doing it, I feel confident about it and I enjoy the result. Sometimes the doubts set in though. As long as I’m in my art room creating art I’m fine. But then I visit some blogs and expose myself to other people and I’m like: SO MANY other people are already doing this, who am I to think anyone is interested in what I’m doing. There is no space for me.

Or I’m thinking about a video I want to do and then it’s like.. it’s been done before. And I KNOW that it’s never been done by ME and that I have a unique voice blablaba, but it STILL stops me in my tracks and makes me feel like everything I do is useless…

However, I am also counting my blessings and remembering the fact that a year+ ago my inner critic was preventing me from making any art regularly. I’ve got past that now. Yay progress! Currently it’s making me feel scared of sharing it or trying to carve out more recognition.. So maybe a year on from now… who knows.

I’d love to know if this experience resonated with you or hear your story if you’ve experienced something similar!

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.

Yes yes

I’ve done some more art over the past few weeks. Not been too productive but I have some stuff to show you. I’ll post them as soon as I’ve managed to take some pictures. I got some new art supplies for my birthday so I’ve been playing with those. Fun!

I get annoyed with myself for not creating art more often but I guess doing it once a week is better than not at all! Hopefully I’ll get another video done sometime as well but I keep getting stage fright. Not about talking on camera but about recording my art, I feel too much pressure!

I also feel like I don’t have time. I know that’s bullshit, but you know how sometimes you know something in your mind but you don’t feel it in your heart? Well that’s what this is like. In reality I have heaps of time, but it feels like I hardly ever have time for the things I want.

So yeah, now I’ve got all the excuses out of the way I’ll go to bed and upload my art tomorrow!