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Discover Your Creative Self

quote from Henri Matisse

I have never considered myself particularly artistic or creative; I have always been slightly envious of those with an intrinsic artistic ability.

I am an engineer. I design bridges, perform calculations, and even draft very complex details at times. There is certainly a type of creativity and innovation required for my job, but I have never considered this artistic (though I consider some of the bridges I have had the opportunity to work on truly beautiful).

I draw. . . with a straight-edge or with CADD (Computer Aided Drafting & Design).

As a child, I remember singing, drawing, coloring, and painting with abandon. I LOVED IT. I drew everywhere! I even once was caught drawing, at the age of 4, on a hardwood floor in my bedroom because I couldn't find any paper I guess?

Somewhere along the way, I began to compare my abilities with those of my classmates. I somehow got the mixed-up message (that I think a lot of kids internalize in elementary and middle school about various things) “if I'm not as good as Jane Doe, why bother? I'll never be THAT good!”

I wanted to sing, draw, paint, knit; I was starting to make jewelry, but I was not using my creativity fully.

I took an Adult 101 improv class at ComedySportz® Richmond and then joined the Minor League team a few months later. I began to open up my creativity by reawakening my spirit of adventure and remembering the joy of playing like we did when we were children.

And a wonderful thing happened.

I went to a group paint event with friends; and I rather than thinking “no, you can’t paint” to myself every time I placed a brush on the canvas, I thought “Yes, and… I can paint.”

I loved it so much! So I started drawing and painting. A lot. My creativity blossomed.

collage of bird art

And I had a few epiphanies that I wish I had had when I was 10.

  1. Practice makes perfect; artists were not born with perfect skills! They practice.

  2. A pencil has this miraculous thing called an eraser! I have finally realized that the best artists use their erasers OFTEN! They even PLAN to use them!

  3. When painting with watercolors and acrylics, don’t give up with the first “wrong stroke.” Build on it!

  4. Crocheting is cool, but so is knitting!

  5. Don't ever tell yourself that you can't do something before you try it. You might surprise yourself!

  6. Keep your eye out for new adventures! Someday your bucket list will contain things like learning about alcohol paints on Yupo paper and ceramic tiles; glass blowing.

  7. “Stay in your lane. Comparison kills creativity and joy.” -Brene Brown

  8. Drawing and painting brings me joy, and I am good enough that displaying them in my home makes me happy.

The only difference is the absence of “I can’t” and the presence of “Yes, and.”

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