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How to Find Your Creative Self Even if You Think You Don't Have One

The first time someone introduced me as an artist I went into a incoherent (and annoying) babbling of

“No, I’m not,

I’m just a...well,

I just make stuff…

I mean...well, not really, I’m just...uh hmmmm”.

My hostess gave a stern look and waved her hand to the others like, “Isn’t she just the cutest thing?” I knew there would be a later conversation with her about owning my space in life. I’m better at hearing “artist” now but I think most of us have issue with titles that we really want -- but aren’t sure we are worthy of carrying.

Natalie tells people that 5 years ago she couldn’t draw a stick figure. Her art is colorful, whimsical and magical. She leaves people wondering, “How did she do that?” Of course I just have to remind her that she still can’t draw a stick figure but she is a rockin’ digital artist.

This is one of Natalie's love and light photographs on canvas.

Neither of us have much formal creative training. We fortunately sometimes someone wants to show or buy the outcome. We do stuff that is pretty and we do stuff that is weird. We do stuff that we can’t wait to show someone and stuff that will be used to start the bonfire this Saturday.

No one believes there is no metal in this piece. It's one of my Encaustic Collages.

There is only one difference between folks that call themselves artists and the folks who don’t. “Artists” allow themselves to play, get messy and make mistakes.

I do several different kinds of art. I sketch and paint. I do collage and doodles. I create mosaics and make things out of junk. I treat my supplies like a toy box and often don’t know what my “art” is going to be till I get done. It reminds me of that feeling in childhood when someone brought a big box of crayons with the sharpener in the back. Remember the smell of new crayons? That is the feeling of just…“playin”.

This is a piece Natalie and I made together. We call it BELIEVE.

The interesting part of play is that you also have to give up worrying about if it’s good. Who knows if it’s good. One person will love it and one person will be unimpressed. Natalie and I have both experienced the high of “I can’t wait for everyone to see this!” only to be greeted with a yawn. We have also experienced the burn of disappointment when something didn’t turn out as we planned. Yet then have someone snatch it up immediately because it reminds them of their grandmother’s backyard when they were in kindergarten.

This is another piece we made together combining Natalie's use of color and light and my doodles.

We encourage you now to give up, “Is it good?” That question has knocked many a creative fairy-bug off her perch. Give yourself permission to be “icky” and you will find your own version of “good”. People like what touches their heart. Work from your heart and you will touch theirs.

This is Natalie playing with liquid light printed on thick, shiny plexiglass!

You may not always know if it’s good but you will know if you had fun making it? Did it express something inside of you that needed to see the light of day? Did it make you feel alive? Did it make you happy? That is what really matters and what art is about. We are all creative and we are all artists in our own right. You only need pick your medium (the stuff you want to play with) and get out of your own way.

I call these Jazi Doodles. This one looks like a hand behind the frame.

We encourage you to play, get creative and let your little kid self do the hokey pokey with something you like working with. It doesn’t have to be paint or canvas. It could be a photograph or a garden, a flower arrangement or a nice home cooked meal. If it’s from your heart and expresses something inside of you, it’s art. Start with what you know. If that’s glitter and glue, go for it. If it’s the perfect sourdough bread, rock on. Find your creative sister self and get to “playin;” What would you like to “play” with? Where would you like to start.

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