To many of us the art world can often seem inaccessible. Our society embraces the myth of the genius artist—someone who has been divinely gifted with an innate creative talent. Art galleries reinforce this stereotype with esoteric art installations. Modern Art is critiqued and analyzed by academia and artists are put on a pedestal, apart from the rest of society. But this stereotype is not the truth. Art and creativity are not reserved for the select few who seem to have been magically blessed with artistic talent. Artists are ordinary people and creativity is accessible to us all.
People have been making art for thousands of years since walls of caves were painted with images of animals and tracings of human hands. Art making and creativity are distinct traits of humanity. It’s a form of communication that can mitigate cultural and language differences. Through our creativity, concepts can become reality. Emotions can be expressed when words fail us. Art gives expression to the soul and guides us on our personal journey.
I believe that everyone is abundantly creative and has the potential for artistic expression. Your inner artist may not emerge quite how you imagined—with a burning desire to paint landscapes or portraits. Creative pursuits can take countless different forms and can be integrated into our lives in many ways. Activities and hobbies that are part of our daily lives can become expressions of our inner artist. Gardening, photography, cooking, decorating or simply choosing our clothing all involve creative decision-making. By paying close attention to opportunities for artistic expression we can give voice to our inner artist and art making can become part of our daily lives.
Making art depends on noticing things—things that may otherwise go unobserved while we’re preoccupied with our busy lives. When we become engaged in the creative process we notice colours, line, shapes and textures. We notice how things fit together and how things taste, feel and smell. Creative activities engage the artist in the present moment. The creative process is akin to mindfulness. When you move towards creativity, you move towards mindfulness.
Integrating artistic expression into our lives doesn’t have to be daunting or time-consuming. To begin, just bring awareness to creative decisions you’re making on a daily basis—the spices you add when you make dinner, the jewellery you choose, the colour you want to paint your bathroom, the snapshots you’re taking. Consider what they say about you. Are your choices expressing who you are? Once you start to acknowledge your inner artist more opportunities for creative expression will appear. Here are some simple ways to get started and engage your artistic side:
» Go for a walk. Bring a camera and notice things. Pretend you’re a tourist seeing things in your city or town for the first time. Start snapping.
» Plant some flowers. Pay attention to the smell, colours and textures you experience.
» Put photos in an album or scrapbook. The process of collecting, sorting, and selecting images is becoming less common in the age of digital cameras. Creating a book of memories is not only creative but therapeutic.
» Try a different recipe or better yet make up your own. Experiment with a seasoning or herb you haven’t used before to spice things up.
» Rearrange your furniture.
» Create a list of your favourite books, songs or movies.
» Paint a room.
» Select a favourite photo you have taken, have it enlarged and framed and hang it prominently in your home.
» Build something with Lego with your children.
» Start a journal.
Making time for artistic expression opens up our lives in new directions. We may feel more playful, optimistic and engaged. As you grow in your creativity you may find your inner artist wants to expand your horizons. It may nudge you towards taking a class in painting, cooking, photography or decorating. Be open to this. Spending time with our inner artist allows our soul to have freedom of expression. We become more mindful, aware and engaged in life–we may discover talents we didn’t know we had. Whatever form your artistic expression takes, connecting to your creativity can enrich your life and guide you on your personal journey.