It’s been said, and though some scoff at it, it is certainly true, everyone’s an artist. You may not think you have an artistic bone in your body, but more likely you aren’t allowing yourself the opportunity to try. I taught mixed media art, bookmaking and scrapbooking classes for years, and some of the most creative projects I saw came from the children in my parent and child classes. Kids aren’t afraid to experiment and they haven’t yet decided what is “wrong.” I watched them inspire the grown-ups that attended with them. Their enthusiasm and freedom was infectious. Allowing yourself that freedom is the first step to discovering the art that inspires your heart. Not sure where to begin? Here are my suggestions.
Go On An Artist’s Date
Lacking the internal fire to create? Author Julia Cameron in her book The Artist’s Way would tell you you need to take yourself out on a date with your creativity. An artist’s date can be anything from visiting an art supply store or museum to having an incredible meal or taking a walk and noticing the world around you. Make it a practice to carry a small notebook and a pencil (or even a traveling art kit if you feel so inclined.) Take ten minutes to doodle or sketch. Write down how something feels or tastes. Most important? Revel in the senses that are triggered by your pleasurable activity. Indulging this way ignites that internal fire and heightens your artistic awareness.
Find Your Medium
I’m not a particularly good illustrator with a pen or pencil, and while I love paint I’m not exactly Van Gogh. What I was always good at? Scrapbooking and collage. Discovering I could take those skills outside of a scrapbook and make wall art was very freeing, and opened even more artistic doors. Cutting and gluing led me to experimenting with adding inks and acrylics, watercolor pencils and stencils. I have even hand-dyed fabric and used my utilitarian sewing machine in the piece above. The point is? Start where you feel a bit comfortable and give yourself the freedom to explore.
Take a Class or Use a Kit
The base of the piece above was made using a Faber-Castell Creative Studio Getting Started Art Kit: Mixed Media & Collage. Kits can be a wonderful starting point for your own work as they get you sitting down and creating without worrying about where to begin. It’s important to remember: following instructions is not cheating. It is inspirational. As a former teacher, I can also highly recommend taking a class at your local independent art studio or from a local teacher. Often, groups form from these classes that encourage each other and learn from each other’s work. Don’t have anything local? Scour YouTube. There is a huge volume of instructional videos you can watch in your own home, from painting and drawing instruction to 3D art and crafting. It’s okay to copy. It’s a good basis to work from while you find your own style.
Use Your Words
I’m a writer, and I love incorporating words into my art. Sometimes I free write a simple sentence or two, and sometimes I find inspiration from poems, stories or song lyrics, which I will either quote in my piece or use as a jumping off point to begin creating. Try making art around a story or character you love. Inspiration is everywhere.
Don’t Be Afraid to Go Deep
When my beloved sister passed away in 1997 it changed who I was a person. I felt as though a hole had been torn in my heart and nothing would ever, ever fill it. In response, I made the above piece and found it extremely cathartic. Making it led me to writing about her and our beautiful relationship for The Sketchbook Project, filling the provided sketchbook with simple inked backgrounds, stamping, chipboard buttons and sentence strips. I cannot tell you how much it meant to me to write our story down, and, knowing it lives in a library with thousands of other people’s artistic work is a small way I honor her and help her to live on (you can see my sketchbook here.) Art can help you release your pain and turn it into something that soothes you. Don’t shy away from letting your creativity set you free.
Failure Equals Experimentation
Confession: I watched this YouTube video and tried to create a new painting using watercolors for this piece so I could show you how easy it was to do. It was an unmitigated disaster. I ended up with a circular splotch of mud. I could easily allow myself to swear off watercolors forever, but instead I’m laughing, learning from my mistakes, and repeating a mantra from The Artist’s Way: “Sometimes I will write badly, draw badly, paint badly, perform badly. I have a right to do that to get to the other side. Creativity is its own reward.”
Take the time to be creative. Make some art—just for yourself, or to share with someone you care about. You will find that indulging your creativity makes for a more peaceful and satisfied mind, and nourishes your soul in a way nothing else can.