Messages that keep artists from creating usual comes from a specific situation or rather a specific person. In this blog, we will explore where these messages come from and how to work past them so that you can express your artistic self.
Remember when you drew and colored with wild abandonment? Maybe you drew a picture of your home, family or yourself. You used color, lots of color to express yourself. Remember that? Maybe it was sometime this week but for a lot of us it was when we were single digits. You know, when you were 2-8 years old. As children we had the unvanquished freedom to create and most adults praised our efforts. Good times. Right? And then we grow older.
I’m not sure when it happens. I think for most it’s around 8 years old, the same time we start first grade. Coloring, drawing and making art become more systematic. We find ourselves pushing aside our artist endeavors to learn about writing and math. Not that there is anything wrong with writing and math, but I believe there is room for both (another blog for another day). By the time most of us reach 6th grade the art is mostly gone. We stop learning a visual language that facilitates self-expression. For those of you who stopped creating, in the words of Mary Evans, it’s never too late to be what you might have been. Visual language is important for self-expression and critical thinking skills.
If you are reading this blog about artists and fears, more than likely you kept on creating. Good for you! On the flip side, you may have a couple of fears surrounding your art work. You see, as children the messages around art change as we age. Adults become more judgmental of our creative endeavors and sometimes those words stick in our soul and continue to re-surface long into our adulthood.
When I was in seventh grade I took art. Silly me, I thought this class would be fun and exciting. My art teacher, Ms. Hanes had other ideas. It was more like an art prison. There were lots of rules about drawing, painting and sculpting. Just so you know, these were hard lessons. I worked hard everyday but it was never enough. At mid-year, my grade was a big fat F. That wasn’t the hardest part, that would have been Ms. Hanes and her messages. “You are not good enough to be in my class. How did you get into my class?” “You don’t get to use the pottery wheel today because you are a horrible student.” She actually sat me in the corner away from the other students. At 13, I was depressed and didn’t want to go to art class.
When my mom noticed I was a little sad about art, she took action. She went to see Ms. Hanes and they had a chat. Mom made sure I was sitting with the rest of the class and my grade was changed to passing. But the messages followed me. In college art classes, when professors praised my work, I didn’t believe them. When people purchased my art work, I wondered why they would buy something from a horrible student. It took a long, long time to erase Ms. Hanes and her messages. As an adult, I understand. Ms. Hanes insecure about her own creative work. Somewhere along her journey she too had received negative messages. A good teacher never tears a student down. But somehow, she had learned that was okay. It’s sad. I truly hope she is somewhere in this big wide world creating delicious art.
More than likely, you too have messages from your past. Someone said something insensitive or mean about your creative work. Those messages linger and carry fear. Fears that include: failure, wasting time, wasting resources, getting stuck, comparison to others, perfectionism, not being good enough, etc. Obviously, the messages are not true, but they sure can keep us from creating. And I find that incredibly sad. I believe art makes the world a more vibrant and better place for us all.
How can we stop the messages that keep artists from creating? I offer two suggestions. The first is journaling. I name the fear. For example, I am not good enough. Then, I write at least 10 ways that I am good enough. The journaling process helps me feel less vulnerable and more confident in my creative work. If you find yourself not creating because of fear, then try journaling. It might just work for you too. I have a super cool Kaleido Journaling class that might help you build confidence and reduce your fears.
The second idea is to work with me, a creativity coach. I offer a Re-discovering You Questionnaire and coaching session. Re-discovering You includes a 5-page questionnaire and a 1-hour coaching session. Together we will figure out your fears, blocks, creative process and creative strengths. This will help you move forward with your creative work. The goal is erase those negative messages and get back to creating with wild abandonment. It’s way more fun than fear. That’s for sure!
Kimba Livesay is a certified Creativity Coach with over ten years of experience helping visual artist and writers. She developed an expressive arts coaching program specifically for creative people. Kimba offers personal coaching, classes and workshops. She is also a visual artist and is currently working on a cozy mystery. For more information visit www.kimbalivesay.com