creativity quote

Day 5 of Build Creative Confidence – Push Yourself

Welcome to Day 5 of the Ultimate Blogging Challenge and my series for July on how to build creative confidence. Yesterday I talked about getting in touch with your body and your creativity through dance. Today, I want to continue the theme of getting physical.

I am in Estes Park, Colorado right now – the gateway to Rocky Mountain National Park. The vistas are stunning but so are the details like the tiny flowers and incredible orange lichen on the rocks in the photo above which I took with my iPhone when I reached Gem Lake yesterday with my husband and my kids. It’s a short hike, only about 3.5 miles round trip but it’s very steep, with lots of rock steps that are thigh high to climb. The tiny, natural lake at the top lies on a rock bowl and is filled only by snow melt and rainfall. It truly is a gem and is always worth the steep climb. Plus, the views along the way looking back towards Long’s Peak and over the town of Estes Park make the steep climb worthwhile. Here I am on the way down admiring one of the vistas.

rocky mountain national park

As I was hiking down and wondering what to blog about next, it struck me that building your creative confidence is very much like building confidence in your physical abilities. I am not in the best shape of my life and I could feel it as I was lifting myself up the stairs to the top of the climb. But I like this kind of physical push. I am very grateful to my husband over the years for dragging me out on hikes and adventures that I wouldn’t have undertaken on my own. He is patient with my slowness and always encouraging.

You build creative confidence by trying new things.

When it comes to building creative confidence, we have to push ourselves to try new things, just like we push our bodies on a run or at the gym. We have to be willing to branch out, try new things, take a class and share our art with the world. One definition of art that I came across recently said art isn’t really Art until it is shared. Yikes, scary thought isn’t it? But bear with me, I am not saying you should go open an Etsy shop and start selling art or share a YouTube video of your original song with the world at large. That’s why I picked the quote by Lena Dunham for today’s post. I appreciated her comment that if we don’t push ourselves then we become merely a caricature, a hollow shell. In order to grow and to reach our goals, we have to move forward, even if we take baby steps.

For me personally, sharing my art with a broader circle of people outside of my immediate family felt like a tremendous risk. It was easier to climb a mountain and be sore for several days than feel safe enough to show my latest creation to strangers and friends on the world wide web. I took the plunge a couple of years ago when I thought about starting a second magazine (at the time I was the publisher of North Texas Kids, a parenting magazine) and created a sample issue with my own artwork on the cover. Here is the cover. I decided not to go forward with the magazine (long story) but I realized that sharing my artwork was worth the risk. I loved the feedback and the more positive feedback I received, the more my creative confidence grew.

zentangle inspired art

I don’t make art to sell, I make art because I love to create, because it feeds my soul and is part of my spiritual practice. I love making gifts for others, too and I have learned to be a bigger risk taker and to push myself creatively by sharing my art – in small ways. In fact, I’m not sure that making art to sell holds any appeal for me right now. My journey with creativity has been focused on joy, playfulness and self-expression. The art journaling, Zentangle®, SoulCollage® and other mixed media pieces I create and teach others how to create are all about remembering how much fun it is to make something with my own two hands and to feel a sense of pride in what I create, just like the pride I feel at the end of a long hike when I reach the top of the mountain and find the hidden gems waiting there. Here are pictures of me and my hubby at Gem Lake and the gorgeous rocks surrounding it. The cliff faces are full of tiny plants and colorful lichen; shaped by years of wind, water and snow they have hidden faces and fascinating curves and crevices full of ancient stories.

Day 5 Lesson – Push yourself creatively!

So your lesson for day 5 is a simple one. Pick one area of creative expression and push yourself to try something new. Here a few suggestions (most of these can be done online or in person):

  • Take an art class – painting, drawing, doodling, knitting, collage, crochet, sewing… you pick!
  • Take a creative writing class
  • Take a music lesson
  • Take a voice lesson
  • Write a poem or prayer
  • Start a journaling practice – write for a few minutes every day

Feeling overwhelmed? Then here’s a fun, simple activity that you can do at home that is incredibly relaxing and rewarding.

Create a collage!

Instructions:

1. Grab a pile of magazines (ask neighbors for old ones or check your local library), some scissors, glue and a poster board or piece of cardstock. A cereal box or manila file folder also work well.

2. Set aside about 30 minutes to do this project.

3. Turn on some music that you love.

4. Before you start, set an intention or theme for the collage. I would encourage you to create a collage that represents your creative spirit.

5. Randomly flip through the magazines. Resist the urge to read articles and titles of photos, let your subconscious just look at the images. When one catches your eye, rip it out and set it aside. Do this for about 15 minutes or until you have a nice pile of 10 to 20 images and words that grabbed your attention.

6. Start laying out the images on your background surface. Take time to trim the images carefully, cut them away from their background and create a new background from the images you collected.

7. When you are happy with your layout, glue them down.

8. The final step, and the riskiest one, is to share your collage. Share it with a trusted friend or your spouse and explain what you are doing and why. Feeling extra brave, share it on my Art Journal Facebook page.

I would love to hear your feedback in the comments below on how you currently push yourself creatively or what are your fears around stepping out from behind your inner critic to start a creative practice?