Discovering What you Love to Create Builds Creative Confidence
One of the scariest aspects of being creative is just getting started! How can you discover what you love to create when you feel stuck, overwhelmed and afraid? The thought of facing a blank page or a pile of clay overwhelms people and rather than visions of masterpieces dancing in their heads, their is nothing more than white noise and a question mark. It is hard to feel confident about your creativity when you don’t know where to begin. That’s why I encourage people to start by coloring in a coloring book. These days there are many wonderful resources to inspire adults to color. Only through enthusiastic and fearless experimentation can you begin discovering what you love to create.
I am on vacation in Petite Riviere, Nova Scotia. My husband’s family has cottages on the south shore. These cottages have been in the family for about 80 years. I have only been coming for a dozen of those 80 years but have fallen in love with this place. Over the years, I have become the summer craft teacher, always bringing along a fun craft idea or coming up with one to keep the kids entertained in the afternoons. Over the years, part of discovering what I love to create has involved the fun summer crafts created at Petite.
Over the years we have painted rocks – lots and lots of painted rocks dot the garden, it’s a perennial favorite! One year when my daughter was barely 1, we made cement stepping stones and decorated them with bits of shells and glass and tiny footprints. This year we have been digging them out of overgrown flowerbeds and marveling at how tiny my kids’ hands and feet were; at 14 years old my son wears a size 11 shoe now. One summer we tie-dyed t-shirts. We have made jewelry and Aunt Liz taught the kids to needlepoint one rainy afternoon. One year we hand dyed silk scarves and made purses… this year I wondered if all the teenaged girls would still want to craft with me. Not that I was too worried, I love to do it on my own, too! Here’s a mandala I created while here.
There seems to be an endless supply of paper, colored pencils, paint, rocks and of course – flotsam and jetsam found on the shore on low tide walks. I love coming here each summer and feel more creative than usual. We spend most of the day outside and the picnic tables are craft central between meals. This year I brought along some of our more complex coloring books, good for kids or adults, as well as my Zentangle® supplies, watercolors and nice drawing paper. The girls still enjoy coloring and even a few of the adults have joined in. Here are Nanny and Maggie creating faces out of rocks, shells and beach class to decorate a large branch, our version of a totem pole.
What I have discovered is that I can model creativity for others by just showing up and beginning to create. If I sit down to draw or paint, others will follow. It’s not the field of dreams but it’s close. I find that we all just need a little push in order to get started and someone beside us saying, “Great job, keep going” or “What are you going to add next?” Making art requires the artist to be both fearless and trusting – much like Kevin Costner’s character in the Field of Dreams. I promise if you gather all of your materials together, lay them out on the table and just start drawing, doodling or putting color or words on the page, something magical will happen.
On our walk this morning my husband was saying that he had felt “creative” several times during our vacation but that when he’d sit down to write, the words weren’t there. Looking over my shoulder as we sit side by side on the porch, listening to the waves and the children’s gleeful shouts from the kayaks, he said, “You have the words!” I keep telling him, just start writing anything and the magic moment will come when you begin to fall in love with the process.
So today’s lesson in building creative confidence is about beginning by discovering what you love.
Discovering what you love to create – Lesson 29
Before you begin, consider this quote by Lao Tzu. It takes a leap of faith to become the butterfly.
1. For writers: here’s an easy tip to get you started. Open a book, any book or even a magazine and flip through until you find a line that you like. Write the line at the top of your page and use it as the starting point for your own writing. Be like James Joyce and enjoy the stream of consciousness approach – allowing words to flow onto the page. They don’t need to make sense!
2. For visual artists: go to the craft store and pick a project. Kits are a great way to get started. Find a kit (even a child’s kit will do beautifully) and take it home and put it together. Don’t like kits? Go buy some nice paper and something to color with. Buy some modeling clay and make something. It doesn’t matter what you do, just start!