I just got back from a wonderful trip to Georgia. It included family, friends, and book making classes. I also attended Peggy Rubin’s Sacred Theatre in Atlanta, where I facilitated a collage and writing exercise. The collages were all perfect for each participant and the writing was astounding. I was not surprised. When given the chance to be creative, people are creative.
I am always pleased by what people create when they are reluctant or weary of doing an art project. My goal as a teacher is to give just enough guidance and offer a safe opportunity for people to feel at ease while they create something new. There are many factors that come up for people when they step out of the ordinary and endeavor to make something creative. Some of the things that come up are:
I am not an artist.
I am not creative.
It has been too long. I am not a visual person.
What if I make something amateurish and everyone judges me.
What if I fail miserably, it is better not to even try, because then I will be safe.
Everyone else knows what they are doing. I don’t know what I am doing.
These are just a few of the things that go through our heads when we challenge ourselves to do something out of our comfort zone. Eleanor Roosevelt said “You must do the thing you think you can not do.” I often think of this when I am scared or reluctant to do something. This feels really really (really) important; to do the thing that I think I cannot do, even if I make a mistake. Because for me it is a worse feeling not to try than it is to try, no matter what happens. When I do something that challenges me I feel alive and connected. I say to my students, “When you do art, there are no mistakes, they just lead you to new possibilities.” I will tell you a secret. I don’t know what I am doing. But, I do know what feels right and what doesn’t feel right. This I know is true. Through practice I have a strong and unbreakable trust for the creative process and for the communication that comes about when I begin to make something out of nothing. I don’t know what I am doing but I trust the process to reveal to me just what I need to know to follow the spark of an idea to its fulfillment and consequently to my fulfillment. This is Art Making.