Why I Have Hated Creating Art and What I am Doing About It


“Inside you there’s an artist you don’t know about… say yes quickly, if you know, if you’ve known it from before the beginning of the universe.” ― Rumi

As far back as I can remember, I have had issues with making art of any kind.

“Stop scribbling! That’s not the ‘right’ way to color!” or “You need to color within the lines” were things that I remember hearing from about the age of four and beyond.  I heard them from family members, teachers, clergy and more.  Of course, it was not always about coloring, but also in the way that I seemed to do everything.

I do seem to remember, however, the painting books that I got at Christmastime from Santa.  A dish of water and a paintbrush magically allowed the pages to turn into colorful masterpieces that were just the right color, except that I felt limited by what others wanted it to look like.

Going to School

I never went to kindergarten, but was put into first grade a month after I turned five-years-old. No, I never got finger paint.

First grade in 1960 meant children were to learn to follow directions.  We had  pages where the pictures were numbered and there was a legend to remind us what number was for each color.  We were to finish it accordingly.

One such picture was of a little boy with building blocks. I colored his hair yellow, his face brown, one arm another color, the other arm, yet another.  Few, if any, of the corresponding numbers had been colored in correctly on the page.  I liked it, but it became clear to me that I was in trouble, when it was sent home to my mother with a note about her eldest daughter “not following the rules.” 

Mom took tracing paper and made (what seems to me now) 50 copies of this little boy building with his A-B-C blocks, and another picture of a sailboat in the water that I had also not colored correctly.  I have to say that I did not like “remedial coloring.”

Throughout my 12 years of schooling, art classes were always painful for me.  “Draw a picture” on a blank sheet of paper made no sense to me. Dropping a blob of clay on the table in front of me produced the same reaction.

“Of what?” was always my response.

I needed some sort of guidance. I just did not seem to have the same artistic blood as that of others. Most teachers did not seem to understand how to teach to those who did not fit a mold of what “good girls and boys” were supposed to be.

I never remember my pictures finding their way to bulletin boards and refrigerators, nor did my fired clay work, looking like a very misshapen lemon, become a paperweight atop a desk or displayed for the guests to see.  In fact, it made its way into the garbage bin with the rest of my things that held little value from an artistic perspective.

There is so much more to this story, but rather than write the novel now, I simply want to share that I am beginning to take this challenge on, not without some major emotional ties to this process.

Taking the Creativity Challenge

Several years ago, I started to take jewelry-making classes, but that was learning a technique and following an order for me.  I can look at a piece and reproduce it.  It is also why rosaries (though I am not Catholic) make sense to me.  There is a pattern, there is technique, and I can make it well.  It does not, however, offer much in the way of creativity.

I have also taken a couple of project classes in making small fused glass bowls at my friends’ glass studio.  It was painfully difficult getting through it, as I am my own worst critic.

On October 5th, I took the plunge by taking a painting class, “Transformational Painting,” facilitated by Nadine Hamil, owner of Artful Dreamers Studio in Tacoma, Washington.  I was with a group of approximately 10 other people.  It was stressful for me, and I fought my own version of a panic attack, not always as successfully as I would have liked.

Nadine (and the others in the class) were all welcoming and supportive.  I got through the process, which had the element of order that I can emulate, but without the “have-to” element that has been prescribed for me throughout my 59 years of life.

After the others left, Nadine (in her gentle way) asked me about what was going on with me during that process.  I shared some vulnerable moments with her, without fear of ridicule or judgement.

She asked me, “Did you at least have some fun?”

My response, “Honestly, no.  It was not fun.  But I appreciate the process and I like the resulting painting.”

I am signed up for two more of her upcoming classes in November.  I am excited but scared for the “Intuitive Painting” class mid-month, but I know that I have begun to  breakthrough.

In my next blog entry, I will share the process with photographs, and share what my thoughts were every step along the way.

For now, I share with you the photograph of the up and coming artist, Coco, with her first painting.  She (I) entitled it, “Hear Me Roar.”

Coral and First painting

“The advice I like to give young artists, or really anybody who’ll listen to me, is not to wait around for inspiration. Inspiration is for amateurs; the rest of us just show up and get to work. If you wait around for the clouds to part and a bolt of lightning to strike you in the brain, you are not going to make an awful lot of work. All the best ideas come out of the process; they come out of the work itself. Things occur to you. If you’re sitting around trying to dream up a great art idea, you can sit there a long time before anything happens. But if you just get to work, something will occur to you and something else will occur to you and something else that you reject will push you in another direction. Inspiration is absolutely unnecessary and somehow deceptive. You feel like you need this great idea before you can get down to work, and I find that’s almost never the case.”
― Chuck Close

* * * * * * * * * * *

To read about my journey through this project and see photos of the process that was used to transform the canvas, visit: “Transformational Painting: I Am Woman, Hear Me Roar”

***Author’s note:  I would also like to thank my dear friend, Ronna Detrick, for introducing me to Nadine and her work. Ronna is also the one who deemed me “a lightning bolt of instigation.”  I am truly blessed to have both Ronna and Nadine in my life.***

For more information on Ronna Detrick and the work she is doing in “transforming sacred women’s stories and inviting yours,” visit her website: http://www.ronnadetrick.com

For more information on Nadine Hamil and Artful Dreamer’s Studio, visit:  http://www.artfuldreamers.com

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9 thoughts on “Why I Have Hated Creating Art and What I am Doing About It

  1. Bill humble

    very inspiring and accurate depiction of the creative process. I especially relate to the “allowing” of the next idea to come to me “out of the blue” (my italics) once I start with “any” idea, not necessarily a bright idea. ” any” idea. Then as I proceed I must remember that I “don’t know” how good I am and I “don’t want to know” how good I am. It’s only when I reach heretofore unreachable levels of performce that I experience the indescribable joy of performing at this new level that I “didn’t know” existed for me.

    1. Thanks, Bill. I’m working on the next blog post, talking specifically about that day and the process Nadine coached us through. It was painful for me, but got through it.

  2. Coral, I am thrilled you found your way back to art once again. It is my pleasure to have met you and I am so exited for you to be exploring creativity in a new way. I believe there are no mistakes in art and healing occurs through the creative process. I appreciate you supporting me and ARTFUL DREAMERS Studio. I look forward to our next creativity encounter!
    Peace, Light & lots of Glitter ❤

  3. Coral…you have found a treasure with Nadine…she is the most heart-centered, gentle and kind person I know. I too, understand that scary process of what can and does show up when we paint intuitively…but it’s all good…always! Enjoy the process…Enjoy the journey!

  4. Mary B

    Coral, as an amateur artist myself, I read your blog with puzzlement. It seems to me that you really don’t enjoy art and it is possible that you need to find another creative outlet. I encourage everyone to try but don’t be discouraged if you don’t fall within the lines. You may become another Picasso or more likely another Julia Childs!

    1. Mary…I can understand that you may see it that way, and you are right that I am not enjoying the process, at this time, but there are things about art and me that you do not quite understand yet. My getting through this process as a creative outlet is necessary . Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

  5. Pingback: Transformational Painting: I Am Woman, Hear Me Roar | Beyond Life's Challenges

  6. Pingback: My Artistic Journey Continues | Beyond Life's Challenges

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