We can ALL be artists
I’m a firm believer that anyone can make art and anything can be art. Never was that more clearly demonstrated than by THAT unmade bed by Tracey Emin, exhibited at the Tate in 1999 and still notorious 20 years on. Whether you believe it to be ‘good’ or not, there’s no denying it caused a stir through the art world and beyond, even being shortlisted for the Turner Prize. Art aims to make us feel, whatever that feeling may be, and if it does that then it has achieved its goal.
Painting by me and my two sons
But I imagine the story is the same for many people who believe themselves rubbish at art and isn’t that sad? A while ago my five-year-old started to get upset about the pictures he was creating. He was trying to draw himself and it just didn’t look like he wanted it to. So firstly, we looked at Picasso and the way, in his portraits, the features were all over the place and yet he is still one of the most famous artists. We chatted about how art is never wrong and how everyone sees things differently. We read some wonderful books by Peter H Reynolds called “ish” and “The Dot” about children who lose confidence in their art until they are taught to look at it in a different way.
And you know what? It was like magic. His confidence soared and he started to draw his feelings. Angry red jabs on paper became “anger” and swirly greens and blues were “calm”. Instead of asking him ‘what’ he was drawing, I asked and said other things instead.
“What does this picture make you feel?”“I love the colours you have put together!”“What do you want people to think of when they look at your painting?”
My five-year-old who chose to paint using a feather and named his artwork "Darkness"
By allowing him to work in this way and to realise that ‘mistakes’ were just opportunities to add more things to his pictures, I hope we can help to protect his imagination and realise that anything he creates is valid and good.
So I ask you to try and reset your mind and look at your artistic endeavours differently. There will always be incredible artists who can paint or draw something so realistic it looks like a photograph. There will always be experts in any field, who’ve put in the hours over a long time to perfect what they do, but don’t let this put you off trying. Find an outlet for your own creativity, be it painting, drawing, sculpting, cake decorating, cooking, singing, dancing, the options are honestly endless. Know that your worst critic is always yourself and learn to take that critical voice in your head and use it to improve on what you do.
I say this whilst also realising how much I need to apply this to myself. I have days where I look at all the work I’ve done and can’t see any worth or skill in it at all. On those days I stop, I move away, I walk the dog or play with the kids. I come back refreshed the next day and always look upon everything more favourably.
Me at work in my studio on a day where I lost confidence in my ability to paint
It’s never too late to find an outlet for your creativity, explore something new that you never thought you could do, or revisit something you were told you’d failed at. Be brave, be adventurous and you never know just what you’ll discover about yourself in the process.
“Every child is an artist. The problem is to remain an artist once they grow up.”