When I was 12 I was asked to leave the art class, as I was deemed “not good enough” at making art. This was a young person who had scribbled, and coloured, and created with her hands from the moment she had the opportunity to do so, and LOVED making. I believed the teacher’s hype.As luck would have it (if you believe such a thing exists) we moved house to our place on the mountain in Pembrokeshire and I went to the High School in Fishguard (bit of a change having spent several years at a convent school – and I loved it!). I had the opportunity to do art again and I grasped it with both hands.
Jonathon Cramp was a skilled artist and was our teacher. Wow! What an eye opener – and he liked what I did. Then he retired – I was filled with trepidation as I knew my life was incomplete without art and I knew I wanted to study Fine Art when I left school. Cue Huw Thomas – also a talented artist, but was also a brilliant teacher, dedicated to encouraging artistry and creativity from his charges.
Bloody ‘ell! How lucky was I? I learned SO much from him and my desire became a BURNING desire to follow art. Unfortunately, my Pop reiterated “you’ll never earn a living as an artist”, which I interpreted as “you ain’t good enough to do this. Do something else.”. What he meant was that earning a living making art requires a certain drive, regardless of talent, and wasn’t a reflection on my ability.
Doing A’level art I learned how to create images that were from my heart and inspired by the topics or titles we were supplied with, but they had to be within parameters as they were being assessed for my A’level. When I went to art college, the same thing applied, but slightly less so (in my head). BBC’s Big Painting Challenge left me yelling at the telly because they were leading the contestants a merry dance with their expectations, and doing little to encourage self-expression.
It struck me this morning how stilted my imagination has been. My confidence in my ability to produce something for JUST ME has eroded over the years, and if asked to produce something I’ve checked in very carefully with “how it’s supposed to look”.
STOP IT! Just stop it.
What is the point of creating something when it’s not authentic?
There are times when it’s appropriate to follow “the rules”, like when making a garment or following a recipe, but what happens to our authentic souls when we change the rules to state, “the rules are – follow your heart and your intuition”?
Be true to yourself.
I’m currently fine tuning a mindfulness exercise which involves creating something, and it’s been a temptation to show how I’ve done it. Knowing that I’m not alone in being so heavily influenced by others and “how it’s meant to look” that I’m going to present it where my finished piece will remain unseen.
I want each individual to tap into their own authenticity, without worrying about others assessments, or judgements. It will be a truly original manifestation of the person, as opposed to a facsimile of what was perceived as “expected”.
It can be a little like being in free fall, but sometimes when we are learning to fly, we have to let go of the branch.