Accessing Your Inner Artist


Each and every one of us is a unique creative being.  You do not need to get creative.  You are born creative.  You may draw or paint or sculpt. You may write or sing or dance.  You may rearrange rooms, sew clothes, quilt or just have a knack for arranging things in a pleasing manner.  Your creativity may be in the realm of ideas or person to person negotiations.  Each time you feel stymied by a person  place or thing, then, find a new way to deal with the challenge, you are accessing your inner artist, your ability to respond creatively.  One of the most common obstacles to better drawing and composition is letting your expectation of how something looks get in the way of seeing what is in front of you.  In her classic work, Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain,  Betty Edwards,  Gives a number of exercises to counteract this tendency and begin to see things in shapes and planes without an inherent 'right' way. If, however, you are wanting to learn more about the visual arts and expand your ability to see and communicate in new ways, try these simple exercises.

  1.  1. Look Closely. Choose an everyday item, something you see everyday, but may not give much attention.  It could be your coffee cup, your house key or a pencil.  It doesn't matter what you choose.  Take five minutes and sit down and really look at the object as if you had never seen this thing before in your life.  Study it closely.  Turn it sideways, upside down, backwards.  Note its shape, color, texture.  Is it smooth or rough?  Are pieces missing from its shape?  Is there anything about the object that gives it a special character? If you did not know this object's purpose, what might you guess it to be?

  2.  2. Take a Minute. Continue through your day, taking a moment now and then, to truly look at the objects or environment in front of you and give them that same type of open fluid consideration.  Allow yourself to imagine a variety of purposes for any given thing.

  3.  3. Practice Seeing. When you have thirty minutes, return to the object you chose and a clean sheet of paper and a pencil.  Choose one point on the object and without looking at you paper, start to draw the outline, the contour of your object.  When you have finished take a look at your picture without judgment, appreciate the character and uniqueness of your drawing. I really love these drawings, but if you have checked out my gallery on this site, you know I am a fan of expressive art.  This practice is called Blind Contour Drawing and the more you practice it the better your abilities to see and draw will become. 

  4.  4. Be Patient. Very few of us are born as prodigies in any skill or talent.  We have to practice anything we want to learn and master.  I had a painting teacher once who commented that she was often puzzled by the fact that many people thought they should just be able to draw without any training or practice. She would say, "No one thinks they should be able to sit down and play the piano, but somehow we think we should be able to draw."

  5. 5. Have Fun.  Art should be relaxing and enjoyable.

  6. 6. Stay with it.  You will be amazed at how quickly your abilities will progress when given the time to develop.  Where we put our attention is where we will flourish.

A few of my favorite books on creativity:

Drawing with Children Mona Brookes

The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron

Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain by Betty Edwards

 Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain Workbook by Betty Edwards

Art and Fear by Bayles and Orland

The Courage to Write : How Writers Transcend Fear by Ralph Keyes