Saturday, 25 February 2017

Creativity, Revised

Art has always been a pretty significant part of my life. A bit of a family tradition, I became exposed torte practice at a young age & it became a regular part of my life. I developed a talent & passion for it.  I've always loved to draw & as I grew up my creativity expanded into many areas of my life. As an adult both photography & painting have taken a front seat.

I've dabbled in painting off & on in my adulthood, but never really took it on as a hobby until a few months ago. I talked about getting into it all the time, but like many things I want to do in life, lacked the courage to put both feet in. I would go to art markets & admire the artists putting their work out there, showing & selling. The idea made me want to do it, but also made me my way stood the fear of judgement & rejection.

Late last year something in me decided to stop dreaming about it & just start doing it. I started with sketches & surprised myself by this newfound ability to create characters from scratch. Most of my artwork consisted of copying photos or objects, I had a good eye, but never really saw myself as creative on a more fictional level. Inspired by this momentum I started, I dusted off the paints I had stashed in the back of the closet & picked up some cheap canvases from the dollar store. Time to practice. I picked one of my drawings & a tiny canvas, painted it slightly larger than the sketch & called it my first draft. I created another. And another. A collection of miniature works, first drafts. I started to show them, first nervously to my closest people, then expanded my audience to Faceboo friends. The feedback was all positive. In the back of my mind, 'Of course it is, these were my friends after all, they wouldn't tell me if they didn't like it.' But in myself, my greatest skeptic was always present. I stared at the art & picked at all the ways it could be better. I criticized my painting technique, after all I don't have any training, so I couldn't possible qualify as a real painter. In addition to criticism of my skills, I also yearned for a deeper meaning in my artwork, theme among them with a message that would contribute to a greater cause. The idea of making pretty decor to match the colour themes of someone's house just wasn't enough.

I felt like I needed to get better at painting to really call myself a painter. I told myself & others these were not worthy of selling or gifting because of their size & the quality of the products with which they were made & that someday I would be a real artist & then I would create sellable pieces. Around the same time I developed this goal to create enough 'sellable' masterpieces for a booth at Park Art, July 1. I broke it down to 2 per month. A couple months went by. Ok, I'm going to have to buck up for a couple months. I made excuses. When I have better paints. When I have something worthy of creating into a 'masterpiece.' When I'm ready I will start. But I just kept making my little drafts & sharing the ones I thought were worthy of exposure within my circle.

The praise I received from my (very supportive) friends were temporary fixes but I couldn't find it in myself to see my art as good enough. Then I got a message from a friend, someone whom I really look up to from a artistic, professional & personal standpoint, commending my skill & encouraging a pursuit in painting as a career. Forget Park Art, he said, let's talk galleries. He had presented a dream for me that was bigger than I had even considered possible. I was deeply moved by this gesture, but at the same time just couldn't see myself 'there.' And it bothered me that I couldn't see the potential in myself that he saw in me. I asked myself, what is it that I am missing? We talked a little more about it  & the advice he gave me was to stop putting so much weight on what other people think, to paint for myself. Study the artists that inspires me, immerse myself in that. To use my art as an expression of myself. Yes I understood this to a point, I've heard it before, but struggled to see how to apply it in my creative endeavour.

Shortly after this conversation I began to embark on an introspective journey, & I began to understand this concept & how it applies to me. The more I learned about myself, my personality & my emotional processes, the more I started to recognize an expression of my inner self emerge through my art, including the stuff I had created prior to this insight. I started to realize a theme between my paintings & sketches & each one came alive with its own personality, with its own story to tell. From this, stemmed new ideas & elements that could contribute to these stories. I was astonished by the idea that I could create art as an expression of things I hadn't yet learned about myself when I painted them. Things my conscious mind had not yet understood that my creativity had tapped into & emerged from some subliminal level into my painting. I've learned the power of the mind & art's incredible way of expressing that which we cannot put into words.

Along this journey I have begun to realize the importance of creativity in the process of personal growth & my purpose for creating art has changed significantly. Instead of producing to sell, painting has taken on a new meaning for me. Now, more than ever, art has a greater purpose in my life & much more of a priority. It has become about the process over the result. A therapeutic tool for personal growth. An outlet for emotional expression. A space for storytelling. And expression of authenticity. A venue for learning about myself. And a way to connect with others on a new level.

Sure the idea of selling my art or showing it in galleries is appealing to me, and I love the idea that something I create has the ability to offer something meaningful to the viewer. And evaluation from others will likely always play into what I decide to put out there when I do, but this purpose becomes secondary it my reason for art. So by releasing the result-oriented pressure I placed upon my art-making, I am finally allowing myself to paint for myself, for the sake of the experience, the process, the benefit it has to offer me. And for the first time I found the courage to get out my good canvas, my good paints & create something bigger. This shift in perspective provides a place for my creativity to flow freely, uninhibited by the fear of judgement & rejection (from myself included). It is in this space that I will create art that is most authentic to who I am.

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