I’ve addressed this topic before, but I think it bears repeating, and I encountered a catalyst for this post again just today. At Tuesday hooking group we had the loveliest trio of sisters stop in for the first time. One of them was looking for applique wool, and another was already a hooker. As I showed them the kitchen area where we cut wool, have classes, eat, drink, and generally be merry, one of these wonderful women said something along the lines of, “I’m not artistic. I can’t draw a thing.”
The answer is always, always, “Yes, you are and yes, you can.” The ladies pictured at left (a different trio) were students in my design class of just that name: “Yes, You Are & Yes, You Can.” It’s a fun, information and skill packed, affirming class in hooked rug design where you start with a sketch of your own creation and leave with a fully finished pattern ready to hook. I was inspired to create this class because I had, and have, heard, possibly a hundred times or more by now, “I’m not artistic. I can’t draw.”
It’s never true. As in…never.
So, what’s the deal? Why do people – primarily women – make this self assessment? Certainly they are not being intentionally misleading. If only they were. No, they truly, really, sincerely believe that their creativity is inferior or non-existent. This breaks my heart, perhaps because I’ve been right there and still struggle with the inner critic who I’m learning better and better these days to shut the *&#% up.
Don’t get me wrong. It’s important to critique your own ideas and work. We have to do that to make sure that whatever it is we are producing is something that we feel good about and that we applied ourselves for. I’ve sold patterns discounted as “seconds” that my customers couldn’t find the flaws in, but I knew. Likewise, I joke that my eraser is my best friend, because I use it more than I use my sketch pencil some days. So, I’m not saying not to take pride in your work and I’m not saying you shouldn’t have standards, but I think you know where the line is. You know when the inner critic is not the voice of your commitment to a job well done, but rather the voice of a bully. You can sense it, and what I’m telling you is: shut the bully down.
I don’t want to overstate the role of gender in this problem, but as an example, I also had a wonderful male customer stop in to the shop today looking for a particular blue (which, dang, I didn’t have at that moment). He had a fantastic rug of his own design with him and I asked him to come in to the kitchen and show it off to the ladies who were lunching. This man is someone who does amazing work and has a healthy commitment to quality. I have heard him self-critique his work, but the tone is different from that of most of my female students and customers, and when he showed off his rug today he was able to take the many oohs, aaahs, and compliments in a way that showed a humble yet confident attitude toward his work. Unfortunately, we don’t have nearly enough men rug hooking these days, but I do believe I notice that they bring to the art a confidence that many women, even the most accomplished, either don’t have or don’t show.
Going too far in to how girls and boys are raised in our culture relative to how they are encouraged to show self effacement vs. confidence is way beyond the scope of this post, but just make a mental note of the existence of these differences, and think about how those differences may affect you when:
- someone pays you a sincere compliment
- you are invited to try a new art or craft
- you are evaluating your own creative ideas or works
- you are asked to share your work or teach what you know
Maybe you had parents or other important adults in your life who didn’t affirm your talent in some way. Maybe you had that art teacher who condemned your efforts because she wanted an outcome from you that fit her limited vision instead of being open to and appreciative of yours. Maybe you’re just an introvert (hello…raises hand…) who isn’t totally comfortable with the attention your talent might or does attract and it’s more comfortable to be dismissive of yourself. I’m a major introvert who is learning to be comfortable with putting myself out in to the world for the sake of promoting work that I love. Maybe it’s something else. Whatever it is that gets in the way of your embracing your own creative potential, it’s important to look at it, move it aside, and give yourself a chance at something you’ve up til now believed you “couldn’t do.”
I am thoroughly convinced that every woman, and the occasional man, who walks through the door at the Parris House has an innate and deep well of creativity within themselves. I respect and honor that immediately and at face value, which is why I wholly reject any assertion that that person is bereft of talent. This is not just wishful thinking on my part, or my stubborn clinging to a dearly held belief. It is evidence based. I don’t know how many students I have taught at this point, but it’s many, and not one – not a single ONE – failed to reveal to me his or her creative nature. Further, my students always teach me something in return; everyone has something to offer in a creative context.
We are, by nature, creative beings. How enthralling is that? We are made for this creativity thing, and all we have to do is find a medium of expression that suits our individual nature.
To summarize, yes, you are and yes, you can.
To sign up for a creative experience at the Parris House, click HERE and bookmark this page because I am adding classes all the time. I will be adding another date for Yes, You Are & Yes, You Can and am in the process of arranging for some guest teachers to come in for possible classes in art journaling, the intersection of water color painting and hooking, natural dye techniques, and more.
Happy (and confident) creating! – Beth