I was seven years old when I painted what came to be known in my family as the frog painting.
This painting is exactly like it sounds – a large painting of a frog – and I remember painting it like it was yesterday. I remember being taught by the art teacher how to make the paint look like water swirling like ripples in a pond on the canvas. And I remember when my mother hung it on a wall in our family playroom. It was the only piece of artwork I made that I can remember being displayed in our home, and I was so proud of my achievement.
The frog painting stayed with me for 20 years until my own family moved into an 800 sq foot house with two children and a third on the way, and there was no room for the large painting of a frog and his pond in our tiny space. I remember holding it in my hands one last time before letting it go, and though I never let anyone know or see it at the time, I cried a little the day I said goodbye to the frog painting.
Art is more than paint on a canvas or drawings on a page. It is a part of us, and when we share our art, our creations, with others, we share a part of ourselves, too.
This is a profoundly unique gift, so why do we so often let it fall by the wayside?
Maybe art was not a prominent part of your childhood, or maybe it was. But I’m betting that at some point along the way, especially when you reached your teenage years, you started to believe that your own personal creativity wasn’t “good enough” or that it revealed too much of yourself to others, so you stopped creating.
I did, too. And it boils down to one systemic issue: fear.
Matt Appling, in his book Life After Art, explains this fear well:
Think about how risky creating something is. It is much riskier than your chances of being struck by lightning. When you create a story or a song or a painting or a gift, you are opening up your mind, heart, and soul to the scrutiny of others.
I believe I first fell in love with painting the moment I painted that frog, and yet 20+ years went by before I picked up a brush again.
I was afraid my next painting wouldn’t be as good as the first, that others might criticize it, that I wouldn’t be able to create something that mattered again.
Does this sound like you?
Fear prevents us from living full, creative lives, friends.
So, how do we overcome this fear? Here are 8 ways to start letting go and living art fear-free NOW:
#1 Let go of perfection.
This one is so much easier said than done, but it really is essential. When you approach a creative endeavor, don’t worry about how it will turn out. Focus more on the process of creating, than on the end product. I promise you’ll have a better result with pressure out of the picture.
#2 Learn from someone who has felt the very same way, and conquered it.
It’s hard to learn from others who may seem like they have it all together. Like their creativity just flows calmly and naturally like Bob Ross painting happy little trees. Would you be surprised to hear that many artists do not feel that way? That fear sometimes gets the best of them, too? This free Skillshare class by Ria Sharon addresses this very issue. She does an excellent job of walking through all the reasons that keep us from making art and how to conquer them.
#3 Take photos with your smartphone when something looks beautiful or interesting to you.
Just for the sake of taking a photo of something that is beautiful or interesting to you! This could be a picture of your children playing in the backyard or of autumn leaves or an evening sunset. Whatever speaks to your heart, capture it. This has an amazing effect not only on developing a creative eye, but on seeing your own inner beauty reflected in the scenes or moments you captured.
#4 Make a Pinterest board dedicated to art that speaks to your heart.
Fill the board with art you identify with and with invitations to create! Need ideas? Here’s the one I started about a month ago and I’m loving it!
#5 Follow bloggers who have a passion for living a creative life.
Tinkerlab, The Artful Parent, and Art Bar Blog are a few of my favorites. I love these sites because they not only encourage the individual creative process, but also offer lovely creative invitations for the whole family. Creating art with your children is such a rewarding experience, which leads me to #6…
#6 Encourage your children to create art and display their creations in your home.
Yes, this post is about inspiring you to spread your creative wings, but if creativity is not fostered in the family as a whole, we are defeating the purpose. We want more than just to make art, we want to live a creative life. One that is full of faith and beauty and love. In order to do this, we must also instill a love of creativity in our families as well. I have some awesome crafts and activities to follow in another post soon, but for now, think about ways you could incorporate art more into your family’s daily life. This can be as seemingly “small” as buying a fun set of magnets and hanging your children’s art on the fridge or creating a simple display area in your home where both they and you can share your creations. Here’s a great, simple example from Design Improvised:
#7 Purchase simple, affordable art supplies.
Here is a great list from Art Bar Blog to help you get started! It says it’s for kids, but it’s for anyone! I started building my own art supplies collection from this very list:
Doodle, paint, photograph. Don’t think, just do. When we get in our heads too much, we stifle our creativity. Let go of what you think is art and start embracing what you feel is art.
I hope this list encourages you, friends!