When I was 19 I took Interior Design at Humber College. The course was challenging and required lots of creativity and very long hours. I loved learning the foundations of design and colour theory. I was good at drafting and art history. I had completed grade 13 art with an excellent art teacher, so I was prepared for new creative assignments. What I was not great at was rendering in ink. It was hard and uncomfortable and I was new to it. So when the first year ended and we were told to do 12 water colour paintings with some of them as renderings I was terrified. As in, I was so scared of not being good at it, that I just never started. Not one. I thought about it a lot, I worried about it, I dreamed about it, but could not start. I had taken a water colour class in high school where we did washes, but this was not the same and I knew I would be judged.
So when second year started in September, which was an accomplishment to make it to year two, I did not have the paintings ready to hand in. I told myself I was not good enough to do interior design and that I was not creative enough. So I dropped out. My fear of failure, my worry about being perfect and my self doubt won.
Fast forward 29 years and I lost my job in a corporate restructuring. So what was one of the first things I did? I signed up for a water colour class. Time to slay that dragon!
I went into the first class with the confidence that going to school for advertising and landscape design plus 25 years of buying and assessing creative work provides. But still I was fearful of failure. What if I could still not do it? After all, I assessed creative, I was not the creator of it. Our teacher was hard at first – telling us we needed the right tools to be successful and that our cheap paper and paints just would not cut it. We needed to invest in the tools to be successful. And then she had us do washes. Oh my, I am back in high school again – will I ever move beyond washes? Our first take home assignment was on a Fall weekend. We were to do 2 washes but to have fun. And that is when I broke through my creative barrier – because I had fun. There was no mark, no judging – just a measure of fun. I got beyond my fear, my worry and my self doubt.
I also realized that not only was I creative, I had been creative all along – designing gardens, helping people stage their homes for resale, setting the table for parties, creating beautiful looking food, telling stories, assessing creative and knowing what needed to be improved, creating beautiful spaces that people feel comfortable in, doing arts and crafts with my kids, keeping my kids occupied, encouraging dancing, singing and acting in my home by my kids and their friends, writing poetry on the GO train into work, keeping a journal of ideas and solving business challenges in a creative way. Sure other people would look at this list and think – how could she NOT think she is creative? Well in business, you work hard to not be seen as “creative” as people may judge you as not being serious about your career.
Today I embrace all my creativity. I love to do washes and see what happens when the paint meets the water and the picture takes shape. I will never be a famous painter but I am 100% happy with that as painting and creativity is about having fun. It is about letting go the fear, the worry and the self doubt. And if people want to think you are not serious enough, that is great – you are the one having fun, laughing, smiling and feeling great joy. To see an amazing artist and his water colour paintings check out Andrew Cheddie Sookrah – his work is inspirational.
This weekend, why not try something creative. It could be fixing a car, solving a scientific formula, creating a new game or app, planning out a veggie patch or doing a water colour painting. Or maybe you are like me and you need a teacher to get you there. In that case, sign-up for a course even if it starts in a few months. Either way, the fun and joy you will get from the experience are worth it.
This evening at yoga our instructor Emma Bowden @thegirldoesyoga read the following quote at the very end, “Progress is impossible without change & those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything”- George Bernard Shaw. It seemed so fitting that I had to include it in this post.
May your day be filled with the vision and confidence to see that you are already creative.
To slaying the dragon along with Bilbo,
Jo-Ann Blondin, your 9CupChallenge partner