As a child, I loved being creative. Though I’m quite sure I didn’t refer to it as ‘being creative.’ I was simply having fun and trying things out. We, as little humans, create and play without (hopefully) paralysing analysis, self-consciousness or doubt just as we’ve barely begun.
I loved sketching, dancing, singing, writing stories and staging performances. I created a recipe book complete with a hand drawn character in the bottom right corner whose appearance changed when I flipped the pages really fast. That was a super cool trick! But I digress.
My self-confidence in my creative capacities was high then. Aged 11, I was fond of the funny Pam Ayres poems on our shelf. After entertaining my immediate family with my recitation of “I don’t want to go to school Mum” in our lounge room and then boldly announced that I wished to perform this in the local eisteddfod. I’d never had formal speech and drama lessons. In hindsight, I was pretty out of my depth with the competition. Mercifully, I was yet to hit the full force of painful adolescent self- consciousness and embarrassment. I simply adored expressing myself and having fun. Enjoying a creative life without the trappings of an internal voice judging my expressions as either good or bad.
I have since spent many years in studying and working in the fields of creativity, self-expression and the arts therapies. But that is different. It is not the same as making a true commitment to prioritising personal creativity for my own self. For process alone. Not product. Not achievement. Not outcome.
Recently, I was inspired listening to my amazing client reconnect with her personal creativity and visual art processes. From this, I felt a longing to sketch. It has been years since I consciously sat to sketch (excluding unintentional doodling whilst listening in meetings or lectures – it helps me process!)
I suggested that my young daughter and I sketch each other’s portrait simultaneously. She was keen. It was peaceful and relaxing – and a time for us to connect. Holding extended eye contact is a powerfully beautifully thing. I’m aware that as a parent, I have a wonderful responsibility to demonstrate and promote self-compassion in my creative endeavours. To not judge my work as good/bad, worthy/unworthy, professional/amateur or wrong/right. My daughter is listening. And so is my heart.
So as I sketch, I talk about how fun it is to have a go, to experiment, to play. I remind her and myself that there is no right way just as there is no wrong way in expressing yourself creatively. How fortunate are we to value and nurture our creativity together.
And today, we took a picnic rug under a shady tree in our yard. We brought out the oil pastels, pencils, paper and enthusiasm. This time, we were accompanied by a four year old at the beginning of his drawing journey and an almost two year old more keen on stomping on the pastels and creations.
Was it peaceful? Well, no. Relaxing? Not quite. Messy? Yes. There was a dog as well, I forgot to mention. Imperfect? Absolutely! Fun? You betcha.
And now, I can’t stop thinking about our next family art adventure, and my own renewal of commitment to living a richly creative life.
Maya Angelou said “You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, The more you have.”
Isn’t that a beautifully encouraging idea? Even if it’s been a long time, have a listen…there may be a whispering urging you to reconnect with your creative spirit. Give it a little nudge. Be curious and compassionate and just see what emerges for you.
©Naomi Morrow, 2016.