February 24, 2014

How a Non-Creative Girl Learned to Paint

Not an Artist

In 2011 I made my first painting. I didn't consider myself an artist, and didn't think I was creative at all. I always wanted to be an artist, but felt like the outsider looking in; one who didn't inherit that gene. I happened upon a mixed media tutorial on YouTube and decided to play around with it. It awoke something in me.

At that time I still didn't believe there was a creative bone in my body so I practiced by copying what others were doing (for my own use, not for selling). It helped me learn techniques. I read as many art books as I could get my hands on out of sheer curiosity. I loved adding ideas to my repertoire.

No Training Wheels

One day, I realized I was painting without training wheels ~ not copying anyone, I was just doing it! Paintings were piling up in a corner of my dining room and no one was holding my hand to walk me through it. 

My friends and family began commenting on my art. I dismissed it saying, "Oh, I'm not an artist, I'm just playing at it".

Upon hearing me say this one day, my sister asked my why I kept saying that. She reminded me that an artist makes art and insisted I was an artist.

I thought about that and found I was discounting my creative side because I was terrified of what people would expect of me if I embraced it. Would people think I could make realistic paintings? Weren't real artists the ones that went to art school? I didn't want to make realistic art; I didn't want to go to art school. I just wanted to paint and whatever came of it, that's what I wanted to do. 

That day I gave myself permission to be an artist however I wanted to be. I was free to enjoy the beautiful process and the title, artist.

Mind Yoga

Today, painting is mind yoga for me. When I feel stressed, or down, or struggling with something; painting pulls me out of that funk. I don't know how to describe it other than that. The simple act of playing with color on canvas, lifts my spirits and makes the world seem hopeful again. I can breath. It's also an avenue to express joy and excitement. It becomes a prayer of gratefulness.

Can't Say Can't

I know you may be reading this and thinking, "Well, that's nice for her, but I'm not creative." 

To that I say, You are creative. If you want to paint, you can. If you want to write, you can. If you want to sing, do it!

The trouble with telling ourselves and others that we can't, is that it stops us from trying. A painter paints, a writer writes, a singer sings. If you want to be these things, then do them. Let's start the mantra: Can't Say Can't.

I don't accept the lie anymore that people aren't creative. I believe we all are ~ even in capacities that aren't usually associated with creativity. I've seen accountants be very creative where they place money in a budget; lawyers creatively craft an argument; engineers create art with wires and electricity. We all use that creative side even if it doesn't involve what is typically considered the arts.

Let's embrace our creativity. That might be going after what you've been wanting to pursue, or create: buying sheet music, setting out paints, or dusting off a camera. Or it might be taking note of what you're already doing creatively and celebrating it.

I'd love to hear about your creativity or what you'd like to pursue; we can cheer each other on! 


  1. Awesome post, Catherine! I love this story of how you gave yourself permission to be your own type of artist which sounds very empowering and brilliant. I would never have known without this post because I see you as creative in all you do and share on this blog. Thank you for the inspiration! :)

    1. Aww thank you, Jamie! To have you say you see me as creative on this blog is such a boost. Thank you for your always encouraging and kind comments!

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  3. Awesome! I got chills reading this, Catherine! I think you're right. We're all creative. As human beings, we CREATE LIFE!!! When we're hungry, we create food. I think we're compelled to create things. I have celebrated my creativity by going to school to learn how to design websites. And just last Saturday, the 22nd, I launched my web design business, Write the Next Book Web Designs (at www.writethenextbook.com), where I help authors bring literature closer to readers. Thanks for the boost of confidence we all need from time to time.

    1. Thanks Christie! I love the idea of being "compelled to create. Congratulations on learning web design and launching your new business!


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