Last year, in the week leading up til Christmas, I had a lightning bolt of a moment. It became very clear to me that it was extremely important that I needed to make art.
My immediate reaction was surprise at the sheer clarity of that download followed by anxiety and denial.
Nooooooo, I thought, I can’t possibly do that.
Even though I’ve spent most of my life working and teaching with works of art and connecting deeply with art that others have made, I’ve kept making my own art at a safe arms-length away. Of course I would make examples for my classroom, paint with my own kids, make the posters for the pep rally and things at school, but my own art just for me? I hadn’t done that in a good twenty years.
My degree is in art history, I would say. That’s my real passion. And it is, looking at art is my fuel and that will not change.
Somewhere along the way, after being the little kid who couldn’t stop drawing, I became committed to the story that I wasn’t creative or talented enough and that I didn’t have enough good ideas to truly be an “artist.” Anytime I tried to start making art again over the years, I would be quickly thwarted by overwhelm, sky-high expectations, and perfectionism.
But that moment felt so clear and so true last December, I couldn’t ignore it.
So I took a look at my life and tried to find ways to make making art easy and fun for me. And that meant working with my own personal recipe of neuroses and baggage I had built up around the topic.
I also had to figure out the logistical considerations. My office is small and with the computer and work stuff, there’s not a lot of room to make art. I tried working with watercolor since that was easy to do in a small space, but watercolor isn’t a medium I particularly enjoy. And then my ADHD can’t handle the organization needed to move art supplies in and out of the kitchen table when I want to create, so that didn’t work either. So I set out to create an art space for me and my children in our house and created a lovely area in the house for us to create.
With the space in place by the end of the summer and unused for weeks after its completion, I finally had to dig deep and figure out my blocks around making art. Namely, I realized my perfectionism was my biggest block. If I didn’t know for sure that what I was going to make would be “good” then I wouldn’t even start doing it. I thought I had to have an idea first and a clear direction. I’ve always loved looking at people’s art journal spreads online, so I started to play with the idea of what would happen if I just started making marks and gluing stuff down into an art journal and allowed myself just to play and let it happen without first having to have an idea. Then if it wasn’t “good,” it didn’t matter. I could just flip the page. This could work.
Space created? check ✔️.
Brain and emotions analyzed? Check ✔️ and check ✔️.
Type of art chosen? check ✔️.
But still no art being made…I realized I needed to force myself into that art room to make art. I know I wanted to, and that once I started, I would love it, but I needed to build some structure into my life. I needed to force that little snowball over the edge so that it could gain momentum and start to grow.
In order to force myself to make art every single week, I added a weekly artmaking coworking session into the Fall Art Connection Circle. This built in accountability to the group as their facilitator made certain that at least once a week, I was up in the space creating with them.
And that made all the difference! Chatting with those lovely people while making art helped get me out of my head and allowed me to just play and experiment. And even if I didn’t feel like it at the beginning, by the end of each session I never regretted spending that time working on my art, and it always added a sense of peace and connection to the start of my week. I almost always kept on creating for hours after the session ended because I was enjoying myself so much.
I learned art journaling is so much fun when I let go of control, and I created art that brings me so much joy.
And I heard from others in the group too that the weekly session helped them create new artmaking habits, gave them a positive start to their week, and made them feel connected to themselves, their art, and to others in the same boat. It was a lovely experience that I did not want to see end after the last Circle session.
It’s only been a few weeks, but that void is noticeable.
So, I am doing something to fill that void and add more artmaking to my week!
Enter the Creativity Cocoon!
In this new program, we meet twice per week for community, connection, and creativity for some art coworking time. In addition, we will have biweekly creative challenges, a private Facebook Group, and a monthly teaching call where I lead you through activities to connect with your deeper, creative self.
I’m doing this for me–to make my own artmaking a priority and a non-negotiable in my life, but also I know so many of you are in this same boat. As art teachers, you give so much of your creative energy to your classroom that your own creative practice often becomes the lowest priority.
Cindy do you wish you were giving more time and space to your own art? If so, I invite you to join me in this soulful and connected new program. Find out the details of the program at this link.
I look forward to connecting with you as we both work to explore our own creative expression in 2023.