"I’m not creative! There isn’t a creative bone in my body!” Have you ever said this to yourself? Or has the thought, “I’m not an artist!” ever entered your mind? You are not alone! I have been there myself.
As a graduate student studying Art Therapy, I was not only surrounded by amazing artists at MFA (Master’s of Fine Arts) level, but I was also surrounded by limiting beliefs about what it meant to be creative. You see, I never considered myself an artist or creative. I got into the field because I believed in the power of art to help OTHERS. Yes, you read that right. I was in no way applying it to myself or thinking about applying it to myself at that time. Why? Because I did not believe myself to be creative or an artist. My stick figures were hard core evidence of that.
Nonetheless, in my program, we had to engage in the art practices in order to understand how they worked and how they could be experienced by a client. I didn’t get it. Why couldn’t we just learn the techniques? Why did we have to DO them? (This my friends, is called living in your head.)
When we would sit and make art, I felt small, insignificant, like my stick figures couldn’t possibly measure up to my colleagues. It didn’t take me long to conclude that they were great and that I was not. Shame quickly arose in the process. I just couldn’t see myselfI as a creative or an artist . Plain and simple. Artists can do lifelike drawings or make beautiful paintings, they’re famous and their art lives in museums. It was such a limited perspective on what it meant to be an artist, and more, what it meant to be creative in general.
The thing I discovered along the way, and that I continue to discover every time I make a piece of art, is that humans NOT being creative, couldn’t be further from the truth! In fact, human beings, especially women, are creative by nature. That’s right, it is in our DNA to be creative and to express that creativity. Remember those cave drawings by our ancestors? We have been making art and being creative since the beginning of time! How do you think we got where we are today? So all this nonsense about you not being creative is just that nonsense.
WHAT IS CREATIVITY?
Creativity can be defined as: “the use of imagination or original ideas; the the ability to transcend traditional ideas into new ones; imaginative”. Now, isn’t that every one of us? Aren’t we all coming up with original ideas in some way all the time? Can you see it’s not exclusive to art making? Still don’t see it, huh?
Every day that you’re alive you are thinking, having new ideas, planning and strategizing and problem solving. That’s creativity. Although the word has a link to art making, it is not the same thing as art making. This is often where people get caught up, confusing art making with creativity. And since most of us don’t think we have artistic ability, we deem ourselves not creative.
So let’s settle on a new definition of creativity: to imagine, to come up with ideas, to transcend and execute them. In that case, we’re ALL creative!
WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE ARTISTIC?
The word artistic can be a triggering word for so many because of it’s relationship to the mainstream definition. To be artistic is usually defined as having a natural artistic ability (i.e. be able to draw realistically, or paint a beautiful landscape), by having your art displayed in a museum or gallery, or by producing art that has monetary value. Can you see how this limited definition can leave most of us feeling like we’re NOT artistic?
What if we defined it this way: “involving aesthetic considerations; exhibiting an involvement or appreciation of art; satisfying aesthetic requirements; having natural creative skill; skill in execution.”? This would mean that every time we tried to make something look a little prettier, a little neater, make it work a little better, that we were being artistic! Talk about challenging the status quo!
I say that being artistic means that you can execute creative ideas. Plain and simple. That means that cooking a beautiful meal, making a piece of machinery, taking a great photograph, writing, dancing, adding beauty in any way, means you’re artistic. It’s not limited to painting or drawing. The possibility of ways to be artistic is endless.
CREATIVITY AND PERFECTIONISM
A large obstacle to any of us considering ourselves artists or creatives is perfectionism. Perfectionism is a protective strategy in our brain to keep us from doing things that might make us feel vulnerable or get hurt. It’s rooted in anxiety and creates false beliefs for all of us about what we can or can’t control. For example, your brain might make up a story like, “Since I can’t draw perfectly, then that means I can’t do it so I’ll play it safe and call myself not creative.” See how easy that was?
But the reality is that being creative and expressing your creativity through art making is the complete opposite of perfection. It’s messy, just like life itself. It’s meant to be experimented with, messed up, torn up, started over, and sometimes just plain frustrating. But if you enter into the concept of being creative with a new set of eyes, and connect to it just being able to come up with new ideas and execute them, maybe you can relax into letting your ideas flow, in whatever way they need to flow. And then, voila! That’s you being creative.
BECOMING AN ARTIST
So now that you have connected with being creative, how about trying on being an artist? It’s ok, breathe! Try to keep in mind that art making is not about the product. It’s about the experience of being able to get out of your head for a little while, connect to your self by engaging in the meditative practice that is art making, and express whatever needs to be expressed. 2 year olds who scribble are artists too! It’s meant to be messy, and fun, and maybe even boundaryless. This is a great way to let loose a little bit, move out of perfectionism, and connect with yourself in a different way.
Try this fun tip and let yourself be silly with watercolors!
WILD ART TIP:
Watercolor palette (crayola brand is fine)
Watercolor paper (9X12)
Cup for water
Get your station ready. Have all of your supplies open and inviting. Make sure that you have a nice quiet space to work and focus. Take a moment to sit and breathe. Feel your body in this moment.
Dip your brush in the water cup and use the color the calls out to you the most.
You may need more than one brush dip to get the color going.
Gently begin to move the brush back and forth. Focus on the movement and sensation. Don’t focus on creating a form of any kind. Stay centered in moving the brush. Add more color or water. Experiment with what happens as you run the brush back and forth, circles.
Choose a second color and gently blend it with the first. Again using gentle, slow brush strokes as you move. Feel free to add as many colors as you want to experiment with. Note what it feels. Like for the colors to work together. Is your perfectionist side freaking out? Keep painting!!
Notice how you feel not attaching yourself to an outcome and just letting your creativity flow to create your own masterpiece! Don’t judge, just notice.
Being silly with watercolor and allowing the colors to just flow is a great way to connect to your inner artist. Tap in to yourself and allow her to emerge. She’s been waiting.
Myriam Martinez is a Women's Personal Life Coach, Licensed Psychotherapist, and Registered Art Therapist based out of Northern California. Her calling in this life is to teach women how to find happiness, success, and ease in their lives through the power of self-love, creativity, and compassion. To learn more about Myriam click here: https://www.myriammartinezcoaching.com/