Arrested by the Art Police?


Scene: A Courtroom in Your Head

“Your Honor, I’d like to submit the following bad drawings as evidence that the defendant has misled her family and friends by describing herself as creative, calling herself an artist and complaining she has no time to make anything.

As you can see, why does she need time to make anything when she makes crap like this?”

“Why indeed, Counselor. Jurors, please look carefully at all the bad art and reach your worst conclusions.”

“Your Honor, we find the defendant,………. long pause………., ‘Not Talented’.”
“Thank you for your service, the jury is excused. Bailiff, take the defendant to be arraigned, and measure her up for a hideous orange jump suit. I’m glad we caught her when we did.”

You’re Not on Trial

Your creative life is not a trial where everybody and their mother is on the jury determining if you really are an artist or just a big-talking fraud who’s been implying she’s artistic since God knows when.

Your ‘bad’ work is not proof that you’re not talented. Otherwise, everyone would be indicted.

No longer torturing yourself by treating your artwork as evidence in a trial is an important step toward getting on your own side and getting serious about making things.

Since making bad stuff is unavoidable, stopping yourself from going through your own version of this courtroom drama isn’t easy, but it’s worth the effort.

But I know it’s hard to change your thinking pattern overnight.

So be gentle with yourself.

A Few Simple Steps

  • Just increasing your awareness of your thought patterns is a game changer. Because we’re so used to our inner monologue, we often don’t even realize what we’re thinking anymore and just mistake it for reality. Realizing this isn’t true, even for a minute, is huge.
  • Notice how you feel physically when it’s happening. Does your chest tighten? Do you get butterflies? Where does the anxiety live in your body as a physical feeling? Stopping to experience the physical expressions of your emotions can go a long way toward quieting them.
  • Give yourself permission. If this means you need to allow yourself to hide your work, throw it away or burn everything right after you make it, then so be it. Even if your rational brain thinks you’re being ridiculous, your fragile feelings need to know that even though they no longer rule the day (by stopping you from creating altogether), they still count and will be attended to.
  • Experiment. Can you leave your ‘bad’ piece out in the open for an hour? A day? All the time? Don’t make yourself do something that shuts you down, but experiment with pushing at the edges of your comfort, and pay attention to the ramifications–because chances are, they won’t be any. The next time will be easier.

Building Creative Momentum

The only way to start making good stuff is to make stuff a lot–to maintain a creative momentum in your busy, everyday life. And if you’re making stuff a lot, chances are excellent that some of it’s ‘bad’. Or at least not what you intended.

It’s just about coming up with strategies for getting comfortable with that. Or, at least, less uncomfortable.

To help yourself keep making.

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, one great way to keep yourself creating is to join me every week for the Creative Breakthroughs Collage Teleclasses.

Or even just one class, I’m not picky.

I’m absolutely convinced it can help free you up to build a wonderful creative momentum in your life and function as a real concrete support system–making it easier for you to commit to yourself  and your creative dreams and goals.

And even if you feel a lot of angst about your creativity, I think you’ll even have some fun because it’s such a blast.

It’s okay to need help getting started again. It’s also okay to sign up even if you don’t feel ‘ready’.

You don’t need to be ready! All you need is a few supplies and a speaker phone.

At 12.00 a pop, what  have you got to lose? You can sign up here.

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  1. Terri says:

    Hi Sarah,

    I really enjoyed this issue of Make Great Stuff. I find myself now looking so forward to my next email issue. Its so helpful to see what you go through and then realize its exactly what so many of the rest of us do too.

    I have been taking an sketching/drawing class over the past few weeks and have actually been able to make 20 minutes or more a day for being a little creative. Its really addicting, since once you start and work on a regular basis, you don’t want to stop.

    Thanks you so much for providing something to look forward to in my busy day and being a great motivator and inspiration to so many.

  2. Emily says:

    I definitely think a lot of the “bad stuff” is part of that mental junk that gets trailed around and it has to come out before you can get to making the good stuff.
    Very thought provoking article, thanks!

  3. maureen says:

    Love this article!!! I can’t believe how well you can hear me from here…..well my mind anyway. Point for point (almost) you laid out what happens to me when I get in a creative funk. Thanks for the awareness points – this will give me a way to work through this when it is happening – so I don’t end up putting down the wire and beads for weeks at a time because i’ve convinced myself that i am a fraud.

  4. Lunar Hine says:

    Thank you for this. I joined my local art group when I moved to this town. I was surprised that I was the only young person there, but they seemed friendly so I went along every week. When it came to the annual exhibition of everybody’s work I was told mine was ‘too untidy’ to exhibit! Mostly the members were doing (very good|) pastels and watercolours of flowers and boats and cottages. I was doing big oil paintings of dreamscapes, power animals and myself naked! I stayed true to my work in refusing to frame or ‘tidy’ it, but it took me a very long time to show anyone else my paintings. It’s so good to hear the affirmations you offer us. It’s always worth being reminded.

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