I met a woman last week who, after hearing about one of my workshops said, “well, what if the person isn’t creative, like me? I can’t draw at all!”
Fortunately, I was close to my art supplies. I showed her some of the materials and techniques I use in my work, and after demonstrating, I invited her to try. She hesitantly accepted, with a sheepish smile.
Her face beamed as she spread colors over the paper. After a few minutes, I noticed signs of a sense of completion inside her. She listened to herself and lifted her gaze. Then, she became self-conscious and looked back down at what she had drawn with a whole new perspective than the innocence she had while creating. She picked up the paper she had drawn on and laughed. She said “it isn’t very good.” But as her words of criticism came out, all I heard was a wish to be loved, to be accepted,to be allowed to be seen as good.
We face so much judgement and competition in our lives. And much of this pressure disconnects us from our own experience, from our process as we hyper focus on results, products, outcomes, something to show for ourselves.
Art is the first thing that stops being fun in life when we hyper focus on results. The innately human activity of creating is part of how we process information, form meaning, and understand the world. Like digesting food, there is a finished product at the end, and the product tells a story of the digestion process, but it is not nearly as important as what happened internally during digestion – what was broken down, absorbed, transmuted…
So, if you’re art looks like shit, you’re doing great! ha ha haaaaa
If you engage in making art as an honest exploration, with curiosity and wholeheartedness… your art will not necessarily be beautiful or “good”. What it will be is true, real, informative, and truly amazing. This process will change you!And the images that emerge will continue speaking to you. They may even ask to be distilled and refined into beautiful images eventually, but they may not.
I am a working artist. I paint images that are beautiful and that people pay to own. And for every one beautiful painting I create, there are maybe 60 ugly drawings or half-finished paintings. These ugly ones are not mistakes! And if I were to criticize them or let them keep me from creating, I would never be able to create “good” work.Creating bad work is not a mistake or a sign of no talent; doing it is a discipline. And it will never stop! You won’t get to a level of expertise where your art is always good. And the people who grow to be accomplished artists are not the ones who get good. They are the ones who make bad art and keep going.
When we relate to “art” as more than making something, we become able to witness energetic patterns present for us and give them physical form. What emerges will give you insight into what is present for you as well as give you the possibility to shift patterns physically, through the art materials, rather than within yourself.
My suggestion for you is to be intentional about exploring, holding a question in action. Forget about being “creative” and just wipe colors across paper as a moving meditation. Allow your marks to be ugly. Allow your process to matter more than what is left over. Allow yourself to love your ugly art wholeheartedly and relate to it as part of the alchemical process that is bringing your inner experiences into the outer world.
And it will be GOOD!