Jo is a certified Quiet Empowerment Coach who is in her element supporting introverted and reflective women to embrace quiet and thrive in midlife and beyond.
Here is Jo's journey with reclaiming the idea of being an artist.
For too many years I told myself and others - “I’m no good at art… I’m quite creative but I’m a crafter… I love colour but I can’t draw… I’m not an artist…”
But I was once!
I was that introverted little girl who drew, painted and made little paper dolls with little paper clothes. Back then, I would definitely have called myself an artist - so who was it that somewhere around the age of 11, fed me the idea that I wasn’t an artist? Who was it that had me believing that to be ‘good at art’, I needed to be able to draw accurately and representationally and be a whizz with a paintbrush?
I can’t be sure of who or when that happened but secondary school definitely wasn’t a place where any artistic skills I may have had were nurtured and making paper dolls certainly wasn’t cool in your teens!
Over the years I turned my hands to a number of creative pursuits.
In my work as a teacher I loved teaching art and I went on to have a business running after school art classes for children…
But I knew I was NOT an artist.
And so I was well into midlife before I realised that it was time to challenge the ‘I’m not good at Art’ story. My life was becoming more spacious, with time to explore my creativity further. But how do we challenge and undo a story that is so ingrained?
The answer for me came by way of an online challenge called the #100dayproject. I stumbled across it by chance on Instagram just days before it was to start. The challenge was to undertake 100 days of something creative - do it every day and share on social media. Simple!
Or not - I’m sure you can imagine the new stories that popped up for me - ‘Why would I share when I can’t draw and I’m no good at art?’ ‘What will people think?’ ‘People will laugh at my attempts at ‘art’ ‘You’re a Coach, not an artist, why do you want to share this?’
So I decided to play. My hashtag was to be #100daysofquietcreativity. No rules, no declared outcomes, just permission to play. And that’s exactly what I did… and it was scary - because new things are often scary. And visibility is scary. And challenging your own hard-wired stories is scary.
I started small… really small! On tiny business card sized pieces of cards - I drew, I painted, I printed and I collaged and I shared. And the 100 day community cheered me on and my own IG community cheered me on too and I kept going and then something unexpected happened… my Inner Child said ‘Me too!!’
My Inner Child who knew she was an artist all along, encouraged me to go bigger, go messier, to use all the colours and all the tools and brushes and my hands as well! And it was SO MUCH FUN!
Alongside looking at my art differently, I began to look at the world differently. Out and about with my camera I began looking for inspiration and I began to find playful ways to make my own representations of the world around me. My inner child quietened down - she had done her bit and reminded me of the joy of being playful and how playfulness opens up the heart and mind to possibility.
She had also reminded me that I AM an artist.
Where I had rather deprecatingly laughed about ‘#shitart’ I began to question my own thoughts about how we judge our work and that of others. I came to appreciate that my art was naïve, unskilled or experimental but most importantly of all - it’s MY art!
With the help of my inner child, I had opened the floodgates and unlocked something in myself that I wanted more of. By building a habit over that 100 days of the challenge, I had identified how and when to fit time for creative play into my life as well as the paths that my art could take.
If you’re ready to unlock some creativity in your life through art but you’re not sure where to start, how about just giving yourself permission to play?
Start simple - play with a pencil - make marks, draw lines, shade and colour in the lines, doodle…
Start small - no fear of the blank page here - play on a tiny page and gradually get bigger…
Start short - play for 5 minutes every day - believe me you will soon want more and will find ways to fit it into your life…
Start somewhere - have a place where you can play that you don’t always have to pack away - or make yourself a creativity box that you can access easily… make it easy!