I remember the moment it happened. I was in elementary school art class and the teacher – a woman with strawberry blonde, disheveled curls – gave us a large sheet of tan construction paper and a crayon and told us to put the crayon on the paper, close our eyes and draw. When we opened our eyes we were to examine our creation and decide what it was. Mine was a man delivering a box of pizza. That was the last time I remember being satisfied with a drawing of mine.
About four years ago one of the participants in a workshop I was running offered to lead our group through a variation on the exercise I’d done in elementary school. She called it blind contour drawing and from that exercise, a lovely pink and yellow vase with flowers emerged on my paper. I was captivated. She encouraged me to continue exploring art and since she was an artist, her words offered me the permission I didn’t realize I was waiting for.
It took me a few more years to rectify my avoidance of drawing (which also included an avoidance of painting, sketching, coloring and even doodling). I decided I had to make peace with the notion that I shouldn’t create art because I’m not good at drawing and because I’m not an “artist.” I began by researching the subject and reading Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain by Betty Edwards. I started the self-guided course in her book aimed at enhancing creativity and artistic confidence and learned that it’s very common for our inner artists to get stuck at stick figures and never move beyond. My experience, it turns out, is the norm.
I only had to complete the exercises through chapter 5 of Edwards’ book to see that I was fully able to draw the most intricate of pictures and that brought a new relationship with art into my life. A big boulder inside of me moved out of the way and I realized that I’d been using the same excuse, “I can’t, because I’m not…” in many other places in my life. From that awareness, I decided that I wanted to encourage others. I designed and launched The Butterfly Series, a writing and creative arts workshop for women who want to explore what’s next. I designed it in part to help me explore what’s next and it’s turned out to be a powerful venue for others to tap into their creativity and learn how to use it as a tool to gain deeper access to self.