Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Yes. You. Can.

Who told you you couldn't? 

Here's what drives me crazy.

On Monday mornings, I give a mini-spiel to resort guests about my absolute beginners workshops in drawing and watercolor, after which I must steel myself because a gang of them inevitably assemble after, barely able to contain themselves till they can tell me:

"I don't have an artistic bone in my body."
"I can't draw a straight line."
"I can't draw a stick figure."
"My 5 year old can draw better than I can."

What they are really saying is "I'm afraid." In fact, "I am so afraid to draw that I am preempting your or anyone else's attempt to suggest that I do so." (But I really want to.)

What? Yes. As Queen Gertrude once said, they doth protest too much.

I give an interactive talk/demo called "Drawing and Watercolor as a spiritual practice." While audience members are waiting for a chance to draw, I ask questions and listen to answers.

I say that many people experience some trauma from criticism at a tender age that closes them off to freely expressing their creativity. Now, as full blown adults, they ache to express a part of themselves that they intentionally sealed off many years ago as a result of an unexpected blow.

I ask the audience, "How many of you as a young person were told that you couldn't draw (or sing, or dance, or write), and were so hurt that you quit doing what you loved? Or lost confidence you didn't know you needed?"

Almost every time, almost every hand in the room goes up.

Someone told them they couldn't. Or that what they made (and were so thrilled with making) wasn't good (or good enough). These people — who otherwise seem like healthy, functioning adults — are in some ways the walking wounded.

I teach drawing and watercolor for a number of reasons. The main reason I teach is to help people re-connect to the creative flow of the universe and to express their own unique experience. I start with drawing because picking up a pencil to draw is one of the easiest, most natural starting points for reconnecting to your creative flow.

I'm here to tell you that you can.
"In spite of everything I shall rise again: I will take up my pencil, which I have forsaken in my great discouragement, and I will go on with my drawing." —Vincent Van Gogh
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