I didn’t discover my gift of painting until my early 40’s. As a child, I didn’t enjoy drawing. Reading was my choice of pass time. Art classes at school always stressed me out because I was pretty bad at it compared to my classmates. I didn’t have an aesthetic sense about color either. Let’s just say that my high school friends often commented on my interesting choice of wardrobe. Yet, in spite of these negative experiences, I’ve developed into a painter in the last few years. This past Christmas season, I finally felt confident enough to give away a few paintings as Christmas gifts. My families were pleasantly surprised when they received these presents. However, no one was more surprised than me about my hidden artistic gift.
It still amazes me when I look back at my journey. How did I get here? It was quite a winding path. It all began with a simple curiosity about the creative process in general. Back then, I thought being creative was all about being naturally gifted. Even though I didn’t feel like I had the talent, I thought I could still learn a lot from the truly talented professionals. Curious about their creative process, I started reading books from writers, artists, and even singers and musicians.
Interestingly, even though these are experts in different creative fields, they offered similar advice. One repeated theme deeply inspired me: ultimately, being creative is not about how talented we are. With time and practice, anyone can learn to express themselves creatively. That gave me hope. I may never become an artist. But if I start practicing, perhaps I can also create something beautiful. This also released me from the fear of failure. It didn’t matter if what I made wasn’t great. I was simply practicing and learning the craft.
I benefited from reading widely. My inspirations often come from people and perspectives that are outside of my comfort zone. Long before I started writing blogs, I read Bird By Bird from Anne Lemott. Anne is a beautiful writer. I learned from her the value of my own creative vision. Each book I read mentored me in it’s unique way. Today, I’d like to share some of the books that inspired me on my journey. I hope they may be helpful to you also.
Finding Water: The Art of Perseverance – Julia Cameron
Julia is a teacher best known for helping people discover their creativity. She’s also a playwright and novelist. Even though she is best known for her book, The Artist’s Way, I’ve found this book to be even more practical and helpful. In Finding Water, she shares her wisdom and encouragement for those times when one’s creativity seem to have run dry. In my creative journey, there have been countless times when it seemed like my creative well has indeed dried up. From her experiences, I was able to recognize and cultivate seeds of inspiration from my daily life even when I felt burnt out.
Creative Thursday – Marisa Anne Cummings
I discovered this jewel at my local library. Marisa’s delightful artwork caught my attention. Some may think her style is too simplistic and “cute” to be taken seriously, but her art carries a sense of innocence and brings joy to my heart. Marisa’s journey encouraged me to start creating even when I didn’t believe in my own creative potential. As young children, we were encouraged to draw without expectations. Somewhere along the way, we forgot about that. It’s time to recover what we lost – that joy and adventure in simply creating.
Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain – Betty Edwards
If I had to pick one book that gave me an artistic breakthrough, this book would be it. Simply put, it taught me how to draw. To be more specific, it taught me to pay attention to what I’m actually seeing, and just draw what I see. This book also gives a great introduction to the difference between how our left and right brains work. Since I’m trained as an engineer, this book offered some much needed insights into how our brains work in the creative process.
These books are also on my short list:
- Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life by Anne Lemott
- The Artist’s Rule: Nurturing Your Creative Soul with Monastic Wisdom by Christine Valters Paintner
- What Art Is by Arthur C. Danto
Do you consider yourself a creative person? Would you like to be more creative in the new year? Since we just started 2019, have you thought about trying a new hobby or dabble in something completely out of your comfort zone? Whatever it is, I hope you will give it a try. There may be a new adventure in store for you.