Do you think of yourself as non artistic? Me, too. I was raised in a family that valued education more than creative pursuits. Although I admired friends who pursued artistic endeavors, I usually demurred if they asked me to join them.
It was well into adulthood that I learned the power of creativity. During a stressful time in my life, a counselor asked if there were any art pursuits that interested me – painting, sculpting, sketching? It didn’t take me long to reply that I was drawn to watercolors. I find the brushstrokes and the blending of colors that produce a soft, blurred effect soothing. When she suggested I try some painting, I quickly rambled on about my perfectionist tendencies, my non artistic background, and how I compared myself to talented, artistic friends and came up short. She gently shook her head at me and told me that it was the process, not the product, that was important. She told me to just put watercolors on a paper. I could tear it up if I wanted. No one had to see my attempts, but she wanted me to take the time to be creative. Reluctantly, I bought some watercolors and paper on the way home (cheap grade, of course, since I don’t like to waste money!) and started blending colors on the paper. The counselor was right. It was calming to see the beautiful colors form on the page. I was not trying to paint anything specific. I just mesmerized myself by slowly painting brushstrokes that blended together into unique rainbows of color. Time passed while I produced paper after paper with ribbons of color. I actually kept the papers and wrote quotes that I found inspiring against the blurred background I had created.
It reminded me of the power of “messy writing”. So often, would be writers are paralyzed by messing up a page with unedited thoughts. How many of us have ever bought a beautiful journal that lays empty in a closed drawer taunting us because we don’t feel that our thoughts are pretty enough for its pristine pages? For messy writing, pick an inexpensive spiral notebook to keep by your bedside. Take a few minutes (five to fifteen) upon waking (research shows your inner self is more accessible when you first wake up) and fill a page with whatever thoughts are in your head. Don’t worry about punctuation or grammar. No one needs to see it except for you. In fact, if you’re worried about the privacy of having your thoughts written down – tear up the page after you write it. Just like the paint on the paper, it’s not the finished picture that’s important. It’s the process of writing your thoughts down.
If you currently don’t have a creative outlet in your life, I encourage you to pay attention to what sparks your interest. Art is not the only creative outlet. Think outside the box – baking, decorating, computer designs, sewing, fashion, writing, adult coloring books and crafts. There are endless possibilities if you give yourself permission to create. You don’t have to make a huge commitment like signing up for a class,or buying books, or researching on the internet. Just see where your interest takes you. Try some paint on a piece of paper, write a page of whatever is in your head, go to a fabric store and admire the designs or get an adult coloring book and some colored pencils and be a child again.
There is no wrong way to be creative. Just follow that little whisper that pays attention when it says, “That looks like fun”.