At this month’s Dinner, Art, + Music night a group of us stood around a single long sheet of paper, markers in hand, and were tasked to make designs that fell within a set of instructions. A circle here, a line there; nothing too difficult, even for me.
While I do enjoy writing, drawing and painting are definitely not my strong suits. The visual representations of ideas in my head are incredibly clear but I then proceed to butcher them into a lackluster existence and end up frustrated.
When I’m surrounded by artists, it’s easy to feel like a fish out of water. Maybe it’s the fact that I’ve seen the limits of my skills and feel sorely out of place amongst folks who mastered the basics early in their childhood.
So when it comes time to demonstrate my artistic skills in public, you’ll often find me standing to the side smiling and watching others. I thoroughly enjoy watching people create works of art, and might chip in with a small doodle or two, but nothing that I could honestly say I put effort into.
But it was the freedom of expression during the mural exercise that really called to me. When I had to create a line from one shape to another, with no other instruction, I tried to make it interesting. I took to making a jagged line of lines, hoping to find someof those long dormant creative juices. Next was coloring in a circle however we chose. How about alternating quarters based on intersecting lines? Not too bad.
The highlight of the night, however, was when given a piece of charcoal, I thought to create a sort of wedge effect. Nothing that I thought was too exciting, but a few minutes later, another member of the group pointed out how creative that shape was and immediately wanted to know my ‘secret’ method.
It’s easy for “non-artists” to feel like they don’t or can’t contribute to artists around them. They must know more than you, right? Otherwise, you’d be just as good or better? It doesn’t work that way. Everyone has something to learn from others, even if it’s just the smallest twist on a well-known technique.
Beaming with pride, I showed her the “secret” behind my charcoal pattern and was reminded of a few simple facts of art (and life):
- You don’t need to be an artist to create and express.
- Your expression of art is unique to you.
- Your unique perspective may be the stepping stone for others to grow from.
Being an artist is hard work. It can take years of schooling, study, and practice. But that shouldn’t stop someone from trying to incorporate a little art in your life. You may be surprised, as I was, as I was at what you can learn, what you can teach, and what you might just enjoy.