Tuesday, 28 September 2010

3 ways to be an artist when you can’t draw -

This is a guest post from Joanna Paterson who blogs at both Confident Writing and her new site, the Mid Life Journal, where she shares tips and resources to help people find creative ways through the middle of life.

I have a confession to make: I can’t draw.

I know this is probably a limiting belief.  I know without a doubt that much of it stems from being taught in a hopeless way when I was at school.  I know there are probably people out there who could help me learn how to get some pleasure from painting and sketching. 

But still, even so, I think I will be left as one of those people who simply doesn’t draw. 

In days gone by this pained me.  Made me feel like I was missing out on something.  To be honest I still get pangs of envy when I see something like this gorgeous retrospective of Judy’s boat paintings  and simply wish I could create something like that too: colourful and vibrant, capturing the moment, revealing something of the artist within.

I’ve learned though to catch myself in those thoughts, and remind myself that I have, slowly and sometimes painfully, learned how to create things that are full of colour, that are vibrant, that capture the moment, and that reveal something of the artist within.

Here are 3 of the things I’ve done without a sketch book or paintbrush in sight:

Take photos

With a lot of encouragement from friends online I’ve learned how to really enjoy taking and sharing photos.  When I look at some of my pictures, especially those of flowers , I feel proud of the images of simple beauty that I’ve created.  And I feel a lot more ‘visual’ as a result - I think the act of looking for, taking, editing, cropping and framing has helped to develop the visual part of my brain.


Over the last few years I have written, loads.  I write on blogs, I write teaching materials to help people connect to their creativity and write with greater confidence, I write guest posts (!), and I write poetry.  More than that I’ve had the privilege to see other people sharing their words with me, starting to write more online, to create stories and craft poems.  Even within journal pages you can hear moments of wonder and magic, as beautiful as any painting.


I’ve done some experimenting with collages - grabbing images from printed materials like brochures, catalogues, and magazines - and working them into an image.  This might be for some personal development work, like creating a vision board for the future, or a dream board associated with a full moon.  I made one piece in response to a creativity prompt, and it’s now framed and hanging on my wall. 

Here’s how it looks:

This is a really easy and satisfying way to start getting creative and expressing your visual side.  I’d really encourage you to give it a go!

Those are the 3 main ways I’ve learned how to be an artist without ever being able to draw.  Okay, so there was one other secret ingredient: learning how to banish the belief that I wasn’t creative, and flick my inner creativity switch to ‘on’.  But that’s another story ;-)

Have you ever found yourself wishing you were more artistic?  What things have you tried to let yourself be so, even if, like me, you can’t draw?



Country Mouse Studio said...

Great article now I have something to tell all those people in my life who say they can never do anything creative.

Jean said...

I use to draw but lost interest. I like doing vision boards. Hey...they are super ways of manifesting your dreams.:)
Photography is my newest passion. A year ago last May I sprung for a decent digital camera. This has turned out to be the best purchase I have made to express my creative side.
Super post! Me thinks I need to share this one on my Facebook page.:)

Joanna Paterson said...

Judy, thanks so much for inviting me over here - it was fun to express a different bit of my creative side ;-)

@ Country mouse - sounds good:-) sometimes a few examples is enough to give people those 'aha' moments to realise they can do something creative, and are, innately, creative

@ Jean vision boards can be very powerful - one of mine let to dramatic results! (of the good kind) I love photography too for its simplicity, and everyday nature, and yet also the way it allows us to shift perspective and really 'see' the world. Glad you enjoyed the article.