Friday, June 7th, 2013

Art Making is Accessible to Everyone


Stephanie Smith Mandala

If I may, if like to share a little something with you about art that might make it more accessible to you. Children are able to create art without fear. Put any variety of art supplies in front of the average child and they will have a blast. Put those same supplies in front of the average adult and your likely to hear something like, “No thank you, I don’t draw because I’m not an artist.”

Here’s a few things that might help you warm up to the idea of making art. I am a professional artist- meaning that I earn income through the sale of my art, but I can’t draw. Drawing, as in the ability to reproduce what the eye sees, is a learned skill. Some people might be born with a bit of an edge in the art department, but most people who want to draw, learn how and then spend a ginormous amount of time practicing that skill. Children create fearlessly until the age of 12 or so, then they start trying to draw the world around them and if they aren’t receiving additional drawing lessons, will often give up art in favor of another activity.

This means that most adults draw at the level of a twelve year old unless they decide to take lessons. OR….. And this is the biggie, they learn to be OK with the quality of their expressions and do it anyway. This was my path. I wanted to make art and so I did. I didn’t let anyone tell me that I couldn’t and so I just would go to the art store and buy whatever I wanted and would play with it in a way that made me happy. I did this over and over again, primarily creating round patterned designs known as mandalas. This was the form I enjoyed creating, and so it didn’t matter to me whether or not I could draw a person or a tree. I believe the act of artistic expression is freeing and accessible to anyone of any skill level that wants to do it.

If the time comes when you want to increase the quality of your abilities, seek out the assistance of a qualified teacher. But until then, your doodles are nothing to be ashamed of because they aren’t for anyone else but you to enjoy unless you wish to share them. Art is freeing and therapeutic and can sometimes be very helpful in expressing what words cannot.

Need encouragement? Check out the books “Trust the Process” by Shaun McNiff or “Kick-Ass Creativity” by Mary-Beth Maziarz.

5 thoughts on “Art Making is Accessible to Everyone

  1. This is a great post. When I started studying art therapy I hadn’t made “art” in over a decade. It felt wrong and weird and unlike children I compared my art to everyone else’s. Then one day I realized that I didn’t need anyones approval. I just needed to feel what I was doing. I wrote “Art is limitless.” on a folder and would look at it every time I felt I may not be headed in the right direction. Being artistic is simply letting go of the limitations others impose on us. I am so thankful I am not alone in feeling this way!

  2. Thanks for the support, especially when it comes to doodling. I think the reason I don’t try more “artistic” endeavors is because I’ve always been made to feel like doodling is a frivolous waste of time since it isn’t “real” art.

  3. Thank you for this, Stephanie! I’ve always doodled a bit but (especially since I have family members who are actually talented artists) I sometimes feel ashamed of even that, as if I’m stumbling into hallowed places I’m not really qualified to enter. It doesn’t have to be that way.

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