Before my move to Northland, I fell in love…. With the idea of being an artist. I discovered mixed media art and I knew instantly that I wanted to do it. I watched endless Youtube clips online for inspiration, purchased canvases, gesso, modelling paste, paint brushes and then put them all away in my cupboard in the spare room. I kept on making excuses not to paint; I didn’t have enough time, I didn’t have the space to paint, I needed to spend time with the children, it was Christmas…. and then the ultimate excuse… I needed pack up the house because we decided that we were moving to Northland.
Now these are probably good reasons not to pull out a canvas and some paints and to get busy. However, one of the real reasons I was so hesitant was fear. A thousand thoughts went through my head “What if I was no good” “What if I made a mistake” “I’m not an artist” “What if…”(insert your excuse here).
Rediscovering your creative genius
I recently read Elizabeth Gilbert’s book, “Big Magic” (a book I thoroughly recommend to anyone wanting to live a creative life). In it she introduced me to the concept of our creative genius. Everyone has one, your creative genius is very closely related to your intuition. Another name that you might know it as is inspiration.
I times when we are relaxed and mindful or doing something enjoyable, our creative genius whispers ideas to us. I hear my creative genius speaking to me when I am going for a walk, or I am relaxed and just about to fall asleep. We often become so busy and stressed in our daily lives that we block out our creative genius or tell it to go away by thinking negative thoughts and doubting our abilities. Our creative genius doesn’t like drama, it will just move to the next person until it finds someone who will work with it. Which is why often, after you thought of an idea and dismissed it you will notice someone who has had the exact same idea and has turned it into a success.
But, if you hear your creative genius and accept the invitation to work with it, that is where the magic happens. I know that you might wonder about my sanity, but it is almost as if a magical force is working with you in the creative process, you just have to be open to it. If you learn to listen to your inspiration it will spam you with so many good ideas that you will have to write them all down before they disappear.
Saul Bellow, who was awarded the Pulitzer Prize, the Nobel Prize for Literature, and the National Medal of Arts, said,
You never have to change anything you got up in the middle of the night to write.
So, today I decided to stop making excuses. I went to the cupboard of my new home where I had unpacked all the art supplies, I had purchased before my move and was too afraid to use. I made the decision to be courageous. I will be honest with you; the hardest part of this experience was opening the supply cupboard.
Once I made the choice to silence the fear and trust my creative genius I realised that I had nothing to worry about. There was no right or wrong way of doing this, there were no mistakes. Instead of fear, I felt joy and at peace – I was living my bliss. (I also discovered that while I was painting that my creative genius gave me another gift – the inspiration for this post.)
In fact, there are many scientifically proven mental health and brain boosting benefits of creating art. Relieving stress, raising self-esteem, reducing feelings of depression, increasing our empathy, tolerance and feelings of love to name a few. Creating art increases our brain connectivity and plasticity. Creating visual art, has been proven to enhance the quality of life for people suffering from dementia. So, there are loads of great reasons to get creative.
Your divine birth-right
We were all born to be creative beings. Being creative is an innately human ability.
Steve Jobs once said:
Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty, because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something. It just seemed obvious to them after a while.
As parents and a teachers, we see this all the time. Children don’t even think, they just create!
Our young children are full of infinite creative energy, imagination and self-belief. They live in the moment and experience the pure joy of putting paint and colour onto a page. They thrive on the sensory rich experience of seeing colour, feeling cold paint between their fingers, tasting it and just being. They are not particularly worried about the end result or whether they will make mistakes. Often once they have completed their art piece, they forget about the product and move onto the next thing. We were all once like this and as a role model in our children’s lives our attitude towards our own creativity has an enormous impact as to whether our children will remain like this.
Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up – Pablo Picasso
When, did we as adults lose this ability to just be creative? Not to over-think it, or to worry about mistakes? But to just listen to our creative genius and enjoy the process?
To just be?
I issue you with a challenge today:
- Next time your creative genius whispers in your ear, listen. The more aware you are of it the more you will hear it.
- Think of a way of being creative that has always interested you. This might be something that you have done in the past, or it might be something completely new. It may not be painting, it may be pottery, cooking, gardening, knitting, crochet, cake decorating or scrap-booking.
- Find a class, a community group, watch some Youtube tutorials or join a Facebook group.
- Buy some materials.
- Make some time and just start being creative.
Starting is the hardest part, but I guarantee that you will love it. You will wonder what took you so long to get started.