The Moments We Change
When I hear someone express that they aren't artistic, my antenna goes up and I itch to know why they think so. So often, we don't know where the looped tracks in our heads originate. That's one of my favorite topics, really. Because when you know why you think something, it frees you up to think something ELSE.
What was the moment you first changed your mind about Art? Maybe a teacher said something. Maybe you looked at your best and decided it wasn't good enough to hang in the Louvre so you gave up. (don't laugh at me!) Or maybe you looked over at a schoolmate's desk and compared your work to theirs and found it lacking, an idea which was reinforced when they were singled out for attention by a harried schoolteacher trying to keep body and soul together with 30 kids in a shoebox all day.
It seems so silly when we realize the thoughts that have been governing our lives. But remember the source. One little whisper, one moment, one misunderstanding or incomplete view of life can shut down our limitless potential when we in the delicate bloom of childhood.
These thoughts need to grow with us, come into the maturity our years have ripened and benefit from the charity of experience. Imagine you are looking for something in your grandmother's attic. See the worn wood floors, the cloudy sunlight full of glittering dust, the boxes and papers and treasures of yesterday. At the back of the room, under a high window and an empty bookshelf, there's a trunk. Mine is green today, what color did you see? Open the trunk, sitting in a little patch of sunlight as the dust settles. Inside, there's boxes. Tons of little boxes, for screws or jewelry or seeds. Mine looks like the small cardboard boxes lined with cotton batts, boxes my grandmother kept her ceramic earrings in. Did you ever collect boxes?
When you find the box marked "I am not an artist," let me know. Open it. I'm here with you. Isn't it like hopping into a movie, this memory of when you decided? Let's say it was in class. You can feel the hurt, the shame, the closing door over this valve, whatever it was that led to the train of thought "I can't Art."
Now, I invite you as a person grown past this experience to step out of your younger self's shoes. It's ok if they are only a week younger. Here and now, look around at the others involved in this circumstance. Did your schoolmate call your drawing ugly because they had tried to make a flower brown at home and their father mocked them or punished them? Did the teacher maybe have his own creative spark damped down by an impoverished upbringing and essentially closed his eyes and pointed when he passed out the gold stars because creativity is too painful for him? There are as many different perspectives about a situation as there are eyes and ears involved.
Looking at my own box, I see a memory of coloring some pages about Harry the Dog with my brother. I had woken up the morning after reading Harry's story fresh from a delightful dream! In this dream I had seen a dog unlike any on Earth. Its fur shimmered with so many different colors, and it carried a light around it. Without waking anyone, I feverishly tried to capture the colors I'd seen with chubby fingers, broken crayons, and a coloring page of Harry. And I was so excited, I burst in on my brother at breakfast to show him my creation. Oh the words. He didn't know. And I couldn't get out how special it was to me and why. So yes, we hurt each other with our words. My colors were outside the lines, haphazard and otherworldly. This year in my Now, I can take it as a compliment that it didn't look like a "real" dog, because it wasn't meant to. To this day I am not 100% sure of what he was thinking, but I do know that around that age realism was becoming important to him and he was learning the painful adult process of leaving imagination behind. In his own hurts, he missed my heart. A simple mistake we all make on a daily basis, one to forgive and move on from.
So, dear reader, what was in YOUR box? Who told you Art wasn't going to open its arms to you? Was it your own self? Why? What can you see differently now? Who might need some kind understanding and forgiving as this memory ceases to sting and control your creativity?And how does this now change how you choose to see yourself and your capabilities as an artist?
What moment did you just change? =)
CHALLENGE: Draw something in under five minutes and really try. Put your best effort into it. This is another White Crayon, and yes, you're saving this one too. No arguing. I heard that. (Humor me). Take note of how you are feeling. Maybe jot down a word or two on the back of your drawing.