When I was in my 20s I had a sudden urge to paint. I had emerged from a difficult time and found myself in a relatively peaceful place and was drawn back to theatre, to creativity and expression. But, totally at odds with what I thought I could and couldn’t do, I started to paint. I had no knowledge of anything to do with painting, of techniques or types of paint (I had been declared ‘hopeless’ by my art teacher many years back when I couldn’t draw a face). I naturally found myself using paints that I liked the look of (I used enamel paints – very shiny and bright), brushes that suited detailed work and I painted on hardboard because it was cheap and I was broke. I bought offcuts from a local hardware store and I painted and painted. I had no idea ever what I was going to paint, I just sat down and ideas flowed from the brush without my head intervening. I painted all night in a little attic room (how romantic is that!) and stacked them up over many months. I sprayed the finished products with varnish and had them framed as cheaply as I could. Unsophisticated and lacking technique undeniably, but painted from deep down inside with passion and commitment.
Then I decided to have an exhibition at the local theatre I had become involved in and see what sort of feedback I might get. It was a bold move, but I was on a roll and I had no concept of ‘not being good enough’. I was what I was. I sold nearly all my paintings. I was amazed. A while later I decided to paint again, but the desperate need for expression had gone and, without any craft to call my own, I couldn’t paint. I tried to do what I thought people would want to see (they liked the first batch didn’t they?), but it wasn’t the same. Eventually I stopped trying. But that period of intense painting taught me something that I appreciate now more than I ever did in my 20s. Inside I was an artist. By that I don’t mean ‘I could paint’ – I mean – I could create things. I still can. So can you.
When we combine our natural creative energy with training and understanding we become immersed in our craft. If you need inspiration then find out how to be inspired. Don’t be passive. Seek out inspiration – seek out all the things that improve your art. Practise and practise. If you’re a writer, write. If you’re a painter, paint. Just do it and allow your creativity to emerge. Try things out. Play. Have fun! Find out what moves you. And … be afraid. Get out of your comfort zone and stretch yourself. We spend too much time worrying that we’re ‘not good enough’ and others may not like what we do. It paralyses our creativity. So, be brave, live dangerously. Be an artist.