“The guardians of high culture will try to convince you that the arts belong only to a chosen few, but they are wrong and they are also annoying. We are all the chosen few. We are all makers by design.”
Elizabeth Gilbert, Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear, 2015, Riverhead Books, New York, p.89
I recently read this in Elizabeth Gilbert’s book and started to think about my own creativity. For some, creativity comes with ease, for others, it is not always evident where you will find it.
When I was young, I enjoyed art in school but I was not a kid anyone would have identified as artistic. If I drew a horse, you could tell it was supposed to be a horse, as opposed to a cow, but it was rudimentary at best. I certainly did not leave school thinking I was artistic or creative or would one day call myself an artist. Fast forward many years to 2008. I was looking for something to do, something to get me out of the house, something that involved more than simply going to a coffee shop to read and drink coffee. I decided I might like to try painting. After talking with my sister-in-law who took fine arts in university, I decided to take acrylic painting at the community arts centre. It was a beginner and intermediate class filled with people who told stories about how they loved painting and were coming back to it after many years. I was someone who had no idea how to mix or apply paint in a way that wasn’t just changing the colour of a room. In my painting class I felt woefully inadequate, struggling with simple tasks like laying down a ground and more challenging tasks like perspective (oh perspective, my kryptonite), but I loved each class. I found painting to be completely absorbing – I could not think of anything else while I was doing it, which for me and my whirlwind brain was great. One day one of my instructors told me I needed to branch out and take something else. She suggested I try drawing. My first thought was, “I can’t draw!”. What drawing instructors will tell you is that everyone can learn to draw, and I am here to say I think they are right. There are guiding principles or rules in drawing that if you learn them and when to apply them, you will be able to draw. And so I learned to draw (caveat: I still stink at perspective, my brain just doesn’t like it). I moved on to take visual arts classes through the adult learning branch of the university, the Faculty of Extension. Through the classes I discovered a completely surprising love of abstraction. I discovered I loved drawing more than painting. I discovered that I am drawn to darker subject matter and that words and music play an important role in my process. I discovered that I am creative and I am an artist.
Ultimately, you never know when, or where, or how you might discover your creative side and what form it might take. But it is there, everyone has one.
Image: My very first painting from my first painting class.
Flowers 2008 ©Deann Stein Hasinoff
Acrylic on canvas