I have always had a love for art. Museums were far more enjoyable for me than most of my peers. A beautiful photograph or painting made me want to just stop and stare. I never created though. I was not an artist.
An Unintended Art Lesson
When I was in Kindergarten my teacher had taken a picture of a monkey and colored it three times. One just had scribbling all over the page, one was in the lines, but colored in all different directions with white patches showing, the third was carefully and neatly colored inside the lines. She pulled out three ribbons and had us rank the pictures in order 1st, 2nd and 3rd based on how well they were colored. Clearly her intent was to teach us about 1st, 2nd, 3rd, but I learned a much bigger, and ultimately quite damaging, lesson that day.
What this innocently intentioned lesson taught my 5 year old impressionable brain was that people were judging my art work, being the best is very important, and you better color inside the lines. Pretty soon I decided I wasn’t an artist and didn’t like art. I wasn’t automatically as good as that 1st place picture and I didn’t have the maturity to understand that it took time, patience, and hard work to get there. I just knew I didn’t want that 3rd place ribbon! I didn’t think it out quite so clearly at that age, but I realize now that I had decided I would rather be known as not trying than try my best and be found lacking.
This one small moment in my education has carried lifelong consequences. I have spent 32 years denying my own desire to create. I have avoided learning about different artistic mediums and techniques. I have labeled myself as “not good” at art and never really gave myself a chance to do it. My artistic self has tried to break free of the chains I placed around it, but never really succeeded in more than maybe stretching the chain a bit.
Learning to Test My Artistic Limits
Around 2006 I started dabbling in digital scrapbooking. My mom and sister were both enthusiastic paper scrappers, but I never really got into it because I was no good at art. I decided that I could be an artist on the computer because if I made mistakes I could just undo and start over. This was my first baby step towards letting my creative self really flourish. In 2008 I decided that I liked the digiscrapping enough that Digital Design would be a good option for using my GI Bill to pursue a Bachelor’s degree. I really enjoyed making T-shirts, word art, and logos, but it still wasn’t completely fulfilling my need to create.
My next step was photography. I didn’t have to actually create anything, I thought, I just had to creatively capture what God had already created all around me. I read “Understanding Exposure” to learn all about manual settings so I could capture what my eye saw. This was much more fulfilling, but there was still a hole. I then read “The Photographer’s Eye” which is all about the artistic principles you can use to improve your photo composition. As I was reading about these basic artistic principles I began to feel those old stirrings of “I wish I was a good artist”, but once again told myself that wasn’t something I could do.
How I Destroyed the Chains My Artistic Self was Bound With
First, I had the opportunity to attend a CreativeLive workshop in person called “The Creative Newborn Studio” taught by Julia Kelleher. During the class Julia gave us each a dish of multicolored clay and told us to create something. While we were working she spoke about becoming as a child again and just creating without any fear of what others thought. As I sat and molded that clay I finally released the chains that had held me bound for so long and just made something fun. I was sitting there playing with clay as aI listened for over an hour. Also as part of the class Julia discussed the Corel Painter software and how it could be used to turn photographs into paintings. When I returned home from the class I purchased the software and have completely fallen in love. I have also learned how to do a lot of painting techniques in Photoshop. In fact the main images of my branding were all created by me using these programs!
The second opportunity I had was completing some business coaching with Jeff Jochum. I had first heard Jeff speak during another CreativeLive class. Jeff is all about specialism, creating a business around who you are, not just what you sell. His course included a lot of soul searching and defining who I was at the core. It was really hard work! I had to be brutally honest with myself. At that point in my life I wasn’t living true to my true nature, needs, and desires. There were a LOT of tears shed as I began peeling away the layers that I hid under and really got to know my real self. One thing I had to face was that I had an unfulfilled desire for creativity that really needed to be set free.
The third event occurred when I read a post on one of my favorite blogs, Vivid and Brave, about the art of Zentangle. I have always loved this type of art but it seemed way above my ability level. This time I decided that I would give it a try. I searched out a few patterns on the internet to learn, grabbed a ball point pen and just began to draw. I got lost in the process and it was amazing! I have now purchased pens, shading pencils, and colored pencils so I can continue to learn this art. Once I have those down I am planning to learn watercolor techniques. I finally overcame that last little hurdle of fear and just allowed myself to create, by hand, on paper, with no undo button. This has led me to experimenting with calligraphy and hand lettering as well as continuing to refine my digital art skills by applying what I learn as I work with paper.
Event four was coaching with Christine Tremoulet who wrote the best selling book “Blogging Brilliantly for Your Business” and just happens to also be behind the Vivid and Bave website. I have long admired her and first rubbed shoulders with her when doing my coaching with Jeff. When she offered me a seat in her new “Business Brilliantly” class I jumped at the chance, and got far more than I expected. Christine helped me define exactly what I wanted to achieve in life, not just my business, but how was I going to be unapologetically me and use my strengths to change the world! It was because of her that I was able to completely change gears away from being a professional photographer and into blogging and direct sales. She is the one that helped me create a mission statement for my life. You can now find her and her classes at The Life Boss.
In the past when people asked me what I did I said “I’m a stay at home mom and I sometimes make a little money on the side doing graphic design and photography.” Now my vision is so much clearer. I know who I am. I have stopped worrying about that little blue 1st place ribbon and instead am learning to be true to my inner voice and embrace my unique creativity. Now I can say-
I celebrate the nobility in motherhood through writing, art, and fashion
I would love it if you wanted to check out some of my work. You can see my art at Fine Art America or request a custom piece via my Etsy shop. If you are interested in my fashion info check out my LuLaRoe and Paparazzi Facebook pages, my LuLaRoe VIP group and my Paparazzi shopping page.
Now I want to ask you, what is fear holding you back from? What are you going to do today to fight back against that fear and let your true inner self shine?