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How I encouraged my inner artist to come out of hiding

April 28, 2015

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Today I’m launching a new series of courses – ‘Freedom to Create’ with the aim of helping people to express their creative side and sharing techniques that have helped me over the years. There’s more info on the link above, but I wanted to tell you a little bit about my story first and what led me to want to run these sessions.

Creating and perfectionism

Since I was little I loved to make things. I was always working on something and remember running downstairs as a child showing my latest creation to my parents. I’ve always been able to get lost in the act of making things. It’s one of the only things that can stop the racing thoughts in my mind. The joy of putting materials together to create something beautiful, or interesting is something that I’ve not been able to recreate in many other areas of my life (apart from being with my lovely husband and wild swimming!)

Despite this love to create, I’ve struggled with perfectionism a lot growing up. Somewhere along the way my brain decided that everything I did had to be ‘perfect’ and that if it wasn’t, then people wouldn’t like me, or even worse, I would be a failure. It also took in the message that to be an artist wasn’t a real job and that making art, playing around with materials, was frivolous once you got past a certain age, that art should be a hobby and nothing else.

The thing is, I knew that making things made me happy and to not create and hold back that side of myself was making me really unhappy. Since this realisation in my mid 20’s, I’ve been trying to live a more creative life.

Crafting a more creative life

I went part time at my ‘real’ job. I started making my creative ‘hobbies’ more of a priority. I worked on photo shoots to try to work out if I could make a living out of making things and I opened up an online shop selling some of my work. Finally I began working for a fantastic organisation called Cartwheel Arts where I’ve worked with groups on Art for Wellbeing projects for the last few years. I’ve been inspired by the people I’ve worked with, people who have gone from being unsure and not believing they could make art, to people who joyfully create when given the opportunity.

Alongside all of this, starting in earnest when I began to work on the Art for Wellbeing projects, I read a lot about finding your creative self, books, articles, blog posts and I started to experiment with my own creative practice.

I started an art journal, regularly experimenting with colours, words, images. Using it as a way to get my thoughts down on paper and play with art materials without the pressure of having to get it right. I began to work on mixed media pieces, as a way of visualising my inspirations – using different colours and textures, paper and paint. This regular practice began to re-ignite that creative spark that I’d felt was disappearing when I had a 9-5 job.

I eventually decided to quit my part-time marketing job and become fully self employed as a freelance artist, and I haven’t looked back since.

Creatively stuck

Despite making this decision to work as an artist, I felt creatively stuck. Worrying about having an idea and what to do meant that I didn’t do much at all. That pesky fear was back, telling me I wasn’t a real artist and stopping me from trying things. At this point I started to give myself permission to play. This was at the same time I was developing Wellbeing Dominoes with Artist and Art-Therapist Jodie Silverman and somehow, helping the group to be more free, to face their fears and create anyway, inspired me to do the same. Now, experimenting is a key part of my studio practice and has led me to some unusual outcomes in my work that I never would have reached otherwise.

Part of what gives me joy is inspiring others to follow that creative longing and to just create without fear. I love to watch people try things they have never done before, to challenge their notions of what art is. To show them that there are many different ways of drawing, of expressing themselves through art and watching them find their own style.

The Freedom to Create courses

The idea of doing this course came when I was on a fantastic retreat in Hebden. I met a group of amazing, powerful women, and when I told them I was an artist, many expressed a desire to create but some followed this with ‘I can’t draw’ ‘I don’t know where to start’ or ‘I’m not arty’. This is something I’ve noticed in other areas of my life where I’ve shared what I do. People want to create, but somehow are stopping themselves, like I was those years ago. I really and truly believe that everyone is creative, it’s just about learning techniques, working out what you love doing and having fun!

By running these courses, I hope to inspire many more people to create without fear and to have fun whilst letting their creative side shine. Which in turn, I hope, will inspire me again too.

If you’re interested in finding out more about the courses, you can find details here.

Please let me know what you think, I’d love to hear your feedback! And share away if you think its something that your friends or family would be interested in.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Jessica Butcher permalink
    May 2, 2015 5:23 pm

    Fantastic piece, a lot of your points resonate! I wish you all the best with your courses, they sound great and you will be brilliant. If you ever run a course in London I would love to attend!

    • May 5, 2015 9:41 am

      Thanks! Yes I think it’s something that a lot of people feel. I’d love to run the courses in different places, maybe London in the future!

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