Such was my dream to be an artist, I went to art college after school and a whole new world of creativity opened up to me. I realised that art isn’t about creating what others’ want. I realised that it’s about creating what I want, what feels right FOR me and what flows FROM me. It’s a way to express myself, through colour, pattern and texture.
Those days are but a distant memory, and as so often happens, life got in the way! I swapped my studio for an office and started my journey in the corporate world. There was little time to get creative – early mornings, busy days and late evenings meant that all artistic dreams got very firmly shoved to the back of the wardrobe.
10 years later and the yearning for my old life started, the lack of creativity was starting to lead to disconnect and a sense of something huge missing from my life. I signed up for some evening classes and gently reacquainted myself with using the material that had once been so familiar to me. At first it was intimidating, I felt a huge amount of pressure to be able to pick up where I’d left off all those years ago. When I struggled to get the technical detail right I’d get frustrated. I realised I desperately wanted to practise my art again but I was feeling restricted by the technical teaching that I was enrolling for.
I decided I needed more space to play, do this my own way, so with a classmate I rented studio space and for two joyous mornings a week we’d lose ourselves in our sacred space! As we walked in the room we were greeted by the smell of the oil paints, that always took me straight back to my art college days – and still does. We had sole use of the room so could just down-tools at the end of a session then walk back in and pick right up where we’d left off. To return to a painting in progress evokes feelings of wonder that this is something I’ve created, slight intimidation because I’m not sure where it’s going next, a little fear because what if the next mark I make ruins it, and a need to trust that however it turns out is as it’s meant to be.
It was during that year in the rented studio that I allowed myself to paint from ‘within’ – from emotion, experience, sensory input. I’d start a painting with little idea what it was going to be, and let the brush strokes determine the journey. The more I got out of my own way, the more the creativity flowed. At my peak I was producing around 2 paintings a week and during that year I sold over a dozen paintings and prints.
Then I made the biggest mistake a creative can make.
I attempted to go more mainstream!
Gah! Huge error of judgement!
The moment I did that I hit creative block. Not only could I not create anything mainstream, I couldn’t get back into my flow and do what I was doing before.
That was devastating, and signalled the start of another 10 year break. The longer that second break went on, the harder it was to return to my dream.
Then last year I tentatively dipped my toe in the waters of creativity once again. Nothing too big – some sketching, some reworking of old paintings. The most important element I realised helped was keeping all my art materials and paintings out, surrounding myself with them in order to start feeling more comfortable around them. It sounds a bit daft, but I felt I had to make friends with my equipment again after such a long period of neglect.
Slowly but surely I started to open myself up to the experience and allow my senses to guide me. The smell of the oil paints – I was back in the studio and art college. The sound of brush on canvas, the paint under my fingernails from working into a canvas with my fingers. It gradually enveloped me into my cosy cocoon of life as an artist and each time I ventured into my new studio I felt the urge to claim that life get stronger and stronger.
It’s still early days for my return. I’m in the playing stage and learning to trust myself to enjoy the process and not focus on the outcome. I’m reconnecting with the pleasure and sense of peace I get from creating art, and I feel the difference in my being when I make time for myself to immerse for a few hours.
What I’ve realised is there are many others out there just like me, who have dreams of being creative but for various reasons life has got in the way. With this has come a loss of confidence, a fear of having a go.
If you’re one of those frustrated creatives then I feel your pain.
Maybe work and home life just doesn’t leave you enough time in your day to do something so ‘self-indulgent’. Maybe those are the words you hear from a partner who doesn’t understand the need that some of us feel to create. If you’re anything like me you’ve heard that a LOT and are ready now to reclaim some time and nurture your desire to do something arty.
The more we fight it, the stronger the calling gets and the greater the need to express ourselves and step into that version of ourselves.
As creative beings we need to express ourselves and not suppress that part of us. To deny our creativity is to prevent our light from shining. We are sensitive beings who long to find and honour our calling, and art is one of the ways we can do this. Whether you want to create art to sell or purely for pleasure, you owe it to yourself to reconnect with your artist self and release her. Indulge her. Let her out to have a play, experiment, enjoy the wonder of different sensory experiences and trust that your artist will take from it what she needs.
If you like what I do, please support me!
© Natalie Day 2017