This is probably the #1 statement made by people who do not believe themselves to be creative. While it IS true that each of us may excel in one expression of joy, beauty and creativity more than another, I believe that everyone has the talent, ability and skill necessary to create something wonderful, individual and exuberant.
What this statement usually means is I can’t draw something that looks recognizable or identifiable or sophisticated, not childlike…yet it is letting our free, uninhibited self, the shy little smile inside of us, out for a session of free expression that can produce something wildly beautiful, new and innovative. Art pieces are about opening our own voice, not listening to the needling voice that says “I can’t”, “I’m really no good at this” or “Whomever told me I could create something worthwhile?”
It might be important to ‘draw straight lines’ if you were creating a painting of geometric shapes and figures, layerings of bands, or rectangular shapes, but a lot of exquisite art work and handmade objects have nothing to do with straight lines and that kind of precision. Sometimes it is exactly the opposite…that the fingerprints, drips and juxtapositions of unexpected colors tell us about the individuality, the beauty of the maker and her expression…her soul if you will.
Most of us as children are taught the ‘proper’ way to draw a person or a house. We are taught to color inside the lines. Of course, manual dexterity and small muscle coordination are important skills to learn…but somehow in this process, we often close down the most beautiful expressions of who we are. A child may bring home a ‘color the frog green’ class project but within the frog lines add layer upon layer of colored greens in free-wheeling spirals, showing that the child still has a sense of artistic self worth.
A young adult may be asked to create a color chart by mixing red, blue and yellow…while many of the students very precisely and carefully paint each shade or tint into nicely defined little boxes, another will gradate the color spectrum using lovely free brushstrokes, and swiping little swishes of paint, letting her/his inner painter show through.
Though you might think that an abstract painter paints in a free, or even sloppy way, because they cannot control the brush, pen or pencil. The truth is they are usually extremely gifted and skilled draftsmen who could ‘draw it correctly’, but who choose huge swashes of color and imaginative shapes and pairings, because then, the painting precisely emotes the feelings, thoughts, memories for the artist. What appears to be free wheeling abandon, is actually days and hours of action paired with contemplative and almost meditative reflection to create the story of their choice…the piece that will evoke viewers to explore new ways of viewing the world!!
If you are just venturing into the visual creative world, I encourage you to embrace a playful approach to your creative ventures, to listen to your inner yearnings, heart and to approach artistic challenges with the robust energy you might have had as a child. Let the individual out for expression and acknowledge the creative artist in you that cannot be denied. Sure you can ‘follow the rules’, but just for once, when no one is watching, swipe your fingers through the wet paint, or smoosh the side of your ceramic pot…but at least do something that shows ‘the mark of the maker’, the beauty, exuberance and joy that only you can create!!!
And if you find it hard to face a blank white canvas on your own, take yourself to the many workshops where you can learn to release, let go and flower. I took an exquisite workshop from Flora Bowley in Portland, Oregon and grew immensely in 4 days!! florabowley.com
Explore!! And ponder on this!!