“If you hear a voice within you say, ‘You cannot paint,’ then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced.” – Vincent van Gogh
You don’t need to be an artist to enjoy making art. Just like you don’t need to be a chef to enjoy cooking or athletic to enjoy yoga (I’m a testament to that). There has been much written about the benefits of drawing, resulting in the rise in popularity of adult coloring books. The benefits of putting pencil to paper include relaxation, a reduction in stress and even improved medical outcomes.
Yet many people are reluctant to pick up a drawing implement. Perhaps they are overwhelmed by the technical details: the choice of which pencil, pen or paper. Or perhaps it is the fear of failure: we worry about it looking weird or incorrect. It can be difficult to know where to start, but let me assure you, all you need is an average pen and the back of an envelope.
I love watching children draw: they have no inhibition and no fear of judgment. My son fills exercise book after exercise book with characters from his imagination; witches with scissor feet, elephant-men with flapping ears, pencils that breath fire.
The colors clash, eyes are unsymmetrical and half the time I can’t even guess what he is drawing. But I can tell you this: he loves it. He is developing his confidence, his imagination, his problem-solving skills and at the same time he is dealing with his childhood fears: overcoming his monsters by putting them on paper. He is compelled to draw, to create, to invent; not for others to admire, but for himself.
The Beauty Behind Embracing Your Inner Artist
Humans have always had a desire to draw, to leave a mark. The oldest surviving cave drawing is over 40,000 years old, although most likely, we were drawing before that. Our ancestors told stories, passed down from generation to generation through the spoken word and also through pictures. When drawing we are fulfilling a basic human need. Art not only connects us with the world around us, but it also helps to connect us with our inner thoughts.
I concede that drawing is not for everyone. Some people prefer to express their creativity in different ways: through gardening, cooking, singing or dancing. Others prefer yoga, hiking or running. The act of making something with your hands or expressing yourself in a physical way is very satisfying. Outdoor activities are particularly important to our mental health as they connect us with the ground, literately. We evolved to live on the earth: walk, sleep and sit on the ground.
Traditional cultures, such as the indigenous people of Australia, have a strong connection to the land. In our world of high-rise apartments, indoor workplaces, elevators, bridges, and even high-heeled shoes, it is becoming increasingly difficult to stay grounded.
This need to connect with the earth explains the growing popularity of yoga. Preformed barefoot, yoga connects the mind and the body to the earth. The art of yoga originated in Northern India over 5,000 years ago, although some researchers think it may be 10,000 years old. Yoga has evolved over time and these days there are many variations of yoga which are practiced all around the world.
Yoga is an integral part of my art practice as it helps me to connect with my creative side. Through yoga, I have developed my own personal mantra: ‘creative, happy, healthy’. Making art is my own form of mediation: it requires a level of concentration that clears my mind. It helps me to relax whilst also working through things that are bothering me. I work through my issues by expressing them in my art.
Like yoga, making art can be contemplative and reflective. However, at other times it can be quite physically demanding. Similar to yoga, creating art can be simultaneously physically strenuous and mentally relaxing. Creativity takes time, patience, reflection, and some hard work. And like everything, the more you do it, the better you get.
Creating keeps me grounded and peaceful. I implore you to give it a try. Everyone has an inner artist, waiting to come out. Find yours and embrace it.
Touch the earth.
Dance like no one is watching.
Draw like no one is judging.
Create something just for you.