Most of us have a similar story – the kindergarten teacher who told us skies couldn’t be green, the high school art instructor who took our pencil and “fixed” our drawing, our well intentioned aunt who insisted if you couldn’t draw realistically then you couldn’t be an artist. These opinions become ingrained in us and soon enough we are saying “I can’t draw” or “I’m not good enough.” Gone is the instinctual freedom that children have when they create art and in its place comes the judgmental and critical voice that deems good art vs. bad art.
I have been teaching art for 20 years now. I have taught 2 year olds and 75 year olds. I strive to teach the same basic principal for all; art is a process. Art is not an outcome. Art is playful and fun. It is the time between the first stroke and the last. It is the emotion, the effort and the love poured onto the canvas and mixed with the paint. For a 5 year old, it is pushing paint around a page and enjoying how the colours blend together. Somewhere between that carefree age of childhood and adulthood we have internalized the criticism and retreated away from creating art, especially if we feel the end product won’t be “perfect.”
Returning to art as an adult is a brave step. Allowing yourself that playful time without a definite idea of the outcome is scary in a world so time constricted and rushed. Making art takes time. It takes courage. It requires putting yourself first. All of which can be intimidating for busy women who manage many aspects of a full life. Art classes can be more than simply trying a new skill or rediscovering an old interest. It can be therapeutic. It can connect you to other women, also walking this scary path of returning to art. It can heal what is broken.
Within a few classes, I hear intimate details of a wife losing her spouse after 30 years, of a mother missing a child, of parenting insecurities, career expectations and more. I hear of loves lost and rediscovered, of children struggling, of divorce, of fear. There is a bond in these revelations and we all connect with commonality. Holding a paintbrush, side-by-side, not knowing what will show up on our page, we share. We share pain and joy; we open to the process of art and the vulnerability it allows us to explore.
This is why I do what I do. Why I created Poppet as a safe space for women to return to their creative nature. To allow themselves time and space to make, explore, retreat, and share. Poppet is the community that soothes the fear women often feel when pushing aside negative self talk and allows for first tries, mistakes, and play.
In the end, if the painting has a green sky and a purple mountain, it is perfect just as it is. I promise.