Growing up we were encouraged to express ourselves through art, in whatever medium that called. It was easy and natural to do in our house- my mother mostly painted but used other forms as well. My step-father was a composer, writing pieces for our church, as well as commission. He played piano and guitar- I remember going to his shows while he was with Roseacre Country Rock Band (well as I recall that was the name, I could be off- but hey I was like 6! lol) and also to practices and sitting with mothers and wives of band members eating cookies, while music floated up from their basements. This was natural and natural we were taught, allowed and encouraged to express ourselves as called.
I explored different mediums, like any child left to be themselves. With glee, and hunger, trying to find the one that fit best and I took most pride in. Clay, paint, piano, baritone, flute, guitar,hand bells, choir, yarn, cloth, chalk, shrinky dinks. So many and with such freedom.
Then came middle school art class and The Teacher. You probably had one- The Teacher that introduced you to self-doubt and showed you how what you did was "wrong". The One that changed your life and helped put your self-confidence in the toilet. (This is especially hard in middle/junior high school where it's already waning and support and approval is what we are really seeking- not just from our peers but adults too.)
In my story I'd brought in some paintings I'd recently done at home to show him, and instead of stepping back to just look and be happy that he was inspiring a student to work away from the classroom, he felt the need to "teach" and critique, correct my work. Pointing out in my favorite piece that it was "too bright" and "not realistic". (I'd actually felt happy while painting this particular one- a sunrise or set, depending on how the viewer wanted to see it, over a field of yellow and red tulips.) He went along like this with each piece I showed him, which wasn't many, since by the time I got to the 3rd or 4th, I was feeling quite humiliated. And never wanted to show anyone anything I did again. And I followed through with that, not picking up a pencil, glob of clay, or paint brush for years. I was also never able to take an art class again.
Some have said to me, and maybe you're thinking it, you shouldn't have taken it so personally. And "Those who can't...Teach. Especially in middle schools." But please remember I was a 13 year old girl attending a rough middle school where I was already the but of many bullings and trash talk. The self-esteem of ones in such a spot and age is all hinged on everything and everyone around them and even the smallest comments can make or break someone. What did HE know?! Well in my small little world He was the teacher and teachers know best and are never wrong- remember being taught that in 2nd and 3rd grades- I do! And his few comments were detrimental.
Years later I felt the pull and had to do something- I felt as if I was dying inside somehow. A part of me couldn't get out and I was not finding life fulfilling at all. I got a canvas and some paints and started again. I've worked in fits and bursts ever since- years going by were I paint and then in the interim I find other avenues. Writing, knitting, cooking.
Recently I have been introduced, via Facebook, to some wonderful artists and their work, most of it mother/birth based and all very spiritual. Something about each artist calls to me, deep inside, wanting me to connect to my old self and bringing along my current self. I want to do something for me again. So soon out will come canvas, pencil and paint in my attempt to bring out me NOW.
Here are two of my new favs. I hope you find them as beautiful and inspiring as I have. Maybe they'll open your eyes wider to the beauty of what life and birth is. The beauty of the mother-child bond. The Naturalness of God's gifts.
I don't know if I'll ever be "as good" as these 2 ladies are but I don't know if that matters either. As long as I find my own beauty in my work that's all that matters. And if others are inspired and see it too, that's just a bonus!
Find your creative side and let it flow, it's important to your well being. And encourage your children in their journey too- who knows what they'll do, where it'll take them or who they will inspire someday.
(I try and do this whenever possible and I have many little artists living in my house, along with a husband who is no stranger to his creative side.)