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Why not make art?

I know... you're probably "not an artist," or "not good at art," or "can't even draw a stick figure," but humor me. Why don't we make more art?


Think about how and why we started making art in the first place. We were kids just messing around with some crayons and markers and made a masterpiece out of nothing! We scribbled and colored, and it was the coolest thing to all the adults around us because we held a pencil and we did something. Our art got hung on the walls, or on the fridge, because no matter what we did, it was perfect and it was ours.


Art is a well-known source of self-expression. From the moment we learn to clap, stand all wobbly and wiggling our butts, and even hold a drawing utensil and making marks on a paper or wall - no one taught us how to just make gestures on a page. Yet no matter what we did, we did it over and over and over again until one day we became "bad at making art."


What changed?


Why did we just stop making art?


We grew up. We started hearing the judgements of everyone around us from our peers, to our teachers or parents, and then from ourselves after internalizing it all. It doesn't just stop here. This isn't the only place we hear the messages of the world and internalize that we are bad at something that was so innately part of us at birth. Think about your perception of yourself, your body, your role in your relationships, who you are - it all has judgements because we have been exposed to a world that cannot tolerate being mediocre at something.

If we were not graded on art as kids (giving A's for students who were developing quicker in art skills than others), imagine how much more freedom we would have with any form of art. If we weren't assigned a value to what we were creating, how different could our relationship with art be later in life? I'll be very clear this is not an attack on teachers, but rather a reflection for how we're becoming as a society.


We live in a world that is constantly product driven.


Product of yourself and who you are, what you can provide to the world, and the more you do that, the better you are. I'm here to say no, that is wrong and this should not be society. Art therapists emphasize the importance of process over product.



This simple, yet small way, of viewing being creative should be a way we are viewing everything around us. The product is not what we should be assigned value to. Rather the process is where we are developing and the importance to show our strengths.


You are not "bad" at art; you are an artist. Talent is not something we are born with. It's a skill we practice over and over again, just like ridding a bike. Everything worth doing takes time and comes with failure, but having support and catching on and figuring it out makes the journey worthwhile. Art is the same way! Being a "good" artist is not something someone is born with! It was someone born with people around them praising them for their creative process, and that conditioned them to believe value comes from art, leading them to believe, "I will make more art to have that value fulfilled."


I will say it again: Adult artists were praised and not judged for their art making growing up which provided them more reason to make art.


Moral of the story, you do not have to be perfect at something to do it. Being perfect at anything more often leads to us doing nothing because we will never be satisfied with what we are engaging in since we simply can never be perfect.


So if we're never going to be perfect at something, why not do more of that something until we appreciate the process of it and actually reap the benefits of making art?


I'm not just saying making art is great for you because I'm an artist and art therapist, but there's actual research showing us the changes in our brains when we make art! Don't believe me? Read more here: https://www.healing-power-of-art.org/art-and-the-brain/


With all of that being said, I will leave you with this: you need to make more art and be less judgmental of yourself and others for doing something creative. So what if you're not perfect at it? So what if you can't draw a stick figure? So what if you have a bad experience with art? All of that could change when you try to do something different and viewed art as a tool for self-care and self-compassion rather than a way to make a product. Anything can be art as long as it is something meaningful to the artist. You won't know until you try it!


With love,

Tori


*All of the messages above are statements I believe to be the truth based off of lived experiences and education around art therapy and art making. No statement is directed to be true of all people.
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