Inspire Your Inner Artist

Little artistWhen I was a little girl, I wanted to be an artist.

At four years old, encouraged by my mom’s appreciation of my artistic efforts, I was sure that I could draw pictures that everyone would love. But my dreams of being an artist were very short-lived.

It didn’t take long for me to realize that there were a lot of kids my age that could sketch and draw much better than I could. And as I realized how sad my efforts were compared to the best artists in the class (why is it that we only compare ourselves to the best, anyway?), I quickly abandoned my colored pencils and markers and stuck with things I felt I could do better.

It’s probably true that I did not have the artistic eye nor the natural talent that professional artists cultivate. But there is hardly anything that one cannot improve by continued and persistent practice. The truth is, we often just give up on things that are difficult for us, especially when we don’t see ourselves making any encouraging progress.

paintThe benefits of engaging in an artistic hobby of any type are numerous. It engages your mind and boosts your problem-solving ability. It encourages your self-awareness and enhances self-expression. It gives you a place to feel free and take risks. And it’s a wonderful tonic for stress relief.

There are even theories that NOT taking the time to be creative can cause us to develop habits of excess spending, overeating, or overindulging in passive entertainment.

Whew! Who needs that?!

Maybe that’s why the phrase “dance as though no one were watching” is so popular. It expresses the hidden desire we all have to feel secure enough to pursue an artistic endeavor just for the joy of doing it.

sketchpadIf you took the time to indulge your creative side today, would you recall the passion and enjoyment you felt as a child? Would you feel the same confidence and excitement you used to feel?

So what would you do?

Would you learn to play an instrument? Take up watercolors? Carve figures out of wood? Deciding which kind of “art” you should pursue can be as easy as finding a paint-and-pour party, as time-consuming as writing a novel, or as entertaining as watching different beginner yoga classes on you-tube.

Following are just a few of many things you may have enjoyed as a child. You may not have considered doing any of these in years – perhaps because you don’t think you have enough talent; maybe because you think they are just for children – but the best reason to try them today is to recall the feeling of childhood when you did something because it is fun and exciting.

Remember – the objective of your creative journey isn’t be to become an expert – it’s to enjoy yourself!

1.     Coloring.

Yes, I thought about listing sketching or drawing or painting first, but coloring is one of the most basic – and probably earliest – memories any of us have of our art endeavors. And with the current popularity of coloring books, which enthusiasts say are engrossing and completely addictive, there’s a little less stigma about an adult wanting to “color”.

While I like to sketch, and I do work on pieces frequently, coloring is more relaxing for me. I sometimes create my own drawings and color them in later. They aren’t stunning or worthy of display by any means, but they are so enjoyable to create, and I keep those that are meaningful to me in my sketchbook.

2.     Play doh.

Again with the children’s theme, because the adult version (clay) sounds more – well – adult.  And not everyone knows where to get clay or how to store it, or wants a big lump of clay sitting around in their house. At least, not until they feel comfortable with their new hobby.

polymer clayPlay-doh, however, in its small-sized container with its familiar smell, is inexpensive to purchase and easy to keep, and can be quickly pulled out for a few minutes of peaceful modeling.

This project, like all the others, is intended to persuade you to feel more
comfortable in your creative zone. Beginning with a small jar of play-doh, even if it seems a little silly at first, may just inspire you to play with modeling clay in the future.

It won’t take much convincing to move to modeling clay, or polymer clay that designers use to make jewelry (among other things). This can quickly blossom into a full-fledged hobby – and you might find you have much more talent than you believed!

3.     Dancing.

Many people are very good dancers – and many people are comfortable dancing without worrying too much about their performance. For some of us, however, dancing in front of others sounds just about as appealing as running through Wal-Mart with a bikini on.

dancing 2

But dancing is good for you. Not just good for your body, but also for the mind and soul.

Remember being a little girl, and twirling around on one foot pretending to be a ballerina? That’s the awesome freedom that dancing invokes. It is the ultimate physical liberty.

Wouldn’t it be great to feel that free again?  To be as unrestrained as a child, where every movement is inspired by a feeling, and not inhibited by fear of looking ridiculous?

It is possible.

You might consider joining an adult dance class – where classes are small and participants are just learning. A comfortable group setting can be a really fun way to get exercise, enjoy new friends, and add an entirely new dimension to your life.

yogaYou might prefer yoga, which can be done in a group setting or alone. Even the most simple routine can help you feel more limber, increase your flexibility, improve your balance and your coordination. You can learn yoga at home, with no audience and no pressure. And it will ultimately make you feel more comfortable with your own body, with the added benefit of being a great stress-reducer as well!

And finally – the next time you are alone at home, and hear a song that makes you want to move – just do it!

You don’t need to know any steps or certain moves to feel graceful and free – you need only to be relaxed and comfortable in your own skin. And one thing you can be sure of – the more often you enjoy a little freestyle dancing in private, the more confidence and happiness you will gain as a result.

4.     Singing.

singingLike dancing, singing is something many people are comfortable with, given a little bit of privacy (for instance – in the shower, the car, or an empty house). For the truly timid, however, the thought of singing aloud is very uncomfortable, even if there is no one around.

It’s really kind of sad that living in the constantly competitive, sometimes judgmental society that we do can so strongly dissuade a person from an activity that should be as natural as breathing, or talking.

It is, after all, your voice!

It is worth the struggle with your inner shyness to become comfortable singing out loud. You don’t have to sing in front of others, or worry about what anyone thinks. But to be able to hear a song and sing out loud – for the pure enjoyment of it – is a worthwhile pursuit on so many levels.

painting5.     Painting.

I’ve listed this separately from the first entry, “coloring”, because painting really is a different skill set, and a different skill level as well.  I’m assuming that by now, you’ve been encouraged to pursue some basic creativity – at least on the level you once did as a child, perhaps before you became convinced you “weren’t good enough” to keep doing it.

At this point, I want to encourage you to take on something that you might consider “over your head”.

I’ve always had a fascination with painting, and – like sketching – I thought that my lack of talent really was reason enough to stop trying. As I’ve worked to stretch my creativity, however, I’ve found that spending an hour or so once a week with a painter’s palette in my hand and a blank canvas on an easel in front of me is tremendously enjoyable and relaxing.

sketchAnd no – I’m still not good at it. But I do enjoy it! My artwork is just for me (actually, my husband and daughter encourage me with it too). And I get enough enjoyment out of it to make it totally worth my investment in the inexpensive art easel and oil paints I bought to facilitate this endeavor.

So that’s it – a few suggestions for picking up a hobby you may have dropped many, many years ago.

Remember that the real goal of any artistic pursuit should be the satisfaction of the artist, in mind, body and spirit. If the artwork that you create turns into a real – well… work of art – so much the better!

And you know, now that I think of it, my mom is still one of my greatest fans. Perhaps she’d like my latest oil painting…