Thursday, August 18, 2011

Benefits of Creative Play

Do you consider yourself an artist? When I first started getting interested in scrapbooking, cardmaking and other paper crafts...I thought of myself as a CRAFTER....not an artist. And when I think back on it - it really seemed like there was a difference...a crafter was someone who just likes to MAKE stuff....and an artist was someone with SKILLS!

I so don't believe that anymore!

I think almost everyone I come in contact with is a CREATIVE person...and most are ARTISTS. My definition of an artist is anyone who gives free expression to that part of themselves that is creative. Maybe you are an ARTIST who makes music. Maybe you are an ARTIST who bakes cakes. Maybe you are an ARTIST that paints pictures. Maybe you are an ARTIST that paints pictures with words...or a camera...or with paper and glue.

The biggest hurdle I had to get over in order to see myself as an artist was fighting the paralysis of perfectionism. Everytime I sat down to create, I found myself worrying that I could make a mistake...that if I weren't careful, I would MESS IT UP! Hogwash! I finally had to say - "you'll never be an artist if you don't ever CREATE anything!"

If you have taken one of my classes, you know that I start every single one of them with "the pledge!" It goes something like this (it is never EXACTLY the same way twice)...picture everyone with one of their art tools held up in the air.

I am an artist. For the next few hours, I pledge to forget about perfection and focus on having FUN! I can spill paint, smear ink and tear my paper and I will STILL be an artist. I can't make a is all fixable and when I am done I will have a work of ART....because I AM AN ARTIST!"

Just those few simple words seem to help both me and my students to lighten up and change our expectations. See it really is as simple as is all about the expectations. Are you EXPECTING what you make to have to meet some standard of perfection....or are you focused on expressing that creative part of yourself in a way that tells a story or expresses an emotion?

I love a quote by Pablo Picasso...."all children are artists...the trick is remaining one when you grow up!" Oh yeah...that is so true. When we were five we thought everthing we made was refrigerator worthy...but somewhere we lost that idea that the very fact that we created it makes it it has to be PERFECT! Honestly, I rarely am moved by a piece of art that is usually doesn't tell me a story....and rarer still is a perfect piece of art that reveals the heart and emotion of the artist. So I am a fan of "imperfect" is so much more interesting!

One of the ways that I battle the paralysis of perfectionism is to set aside time for intentional PLAY. If you watch my YouTube videos, you know that I often end with "and I hope you will find some time this week to PLAY!" Trying to make ART is hard...playing is very freeing! I sit down and have no intention of creating a finished product. I just want to see how this ink reacts with that paint...or how a particular tool creates texture on the page. Whatever I make, may end up in the trash...or be put aside to be incorporated into another project at a later date. The point is, because I don't have any expectations other than to just "see what happens" - I can't be dissapointed. Most of my tutorials have come as a result of some creative play - an hour or two that I just sat down in my studio and messed around with tools and products to see what they do. It is like PRACTICE for an artist. You end up with new "tools in your artist's toolbox" that you can pull out when you need to get a certain result...and because you have played around with the technique on something that has no consequence...when you try it on the "REAL PROJECT" you can use it confidently.

The other thing I do is to try a new technique on something an ATC (Artist Trading Card) or a tag. Nothing scary about something that is 2.5 x 3.5 inches. If I don't like it, I can just paint over it or tear it or paste something down on top of it. No worries! I recently visited the blog of one of my FAVORITE artists Julie Fei-Fan Balzer...and saw that she was doing this same thing...only on CANVASES! oh yeah....she took a canvas that she made last week and just reused it...some of it showed through...some of it didn't....but she just boldly went right over it....NO FEAR! Check out her post on her blog about that won't be disappointed.

Here is a video I did last year showing you some examples of things that I had created during some Intentional PLAY. As you will hear in the video, I hadn't had much time for creativity - so instead of denying my artist's heart ANY expression because I couldn't really create a MASTERPIECE, I just took a few moments every night to go and PLAY! Check it out...

I do hope that you have a great rest of the week...and will take some time to PLAY! Because you, my friend...are an ARTIST!


  1. Great post! I agree that creative play is vitally important!

  2. Anonymous12:49 PM

    Truly, Girlfriend, I didn't think of you as being the "perfectionist" type. I've watched your videos and read your posts and have been wondering how I could become more free in my "artistic" expression as you are.

    I bet your weekly pledge at your classes is fun. Banishing the thoughts that enter heads to sabotage greatness. I'll have to give that a try myself :-)

    Thanks for this glimpse into your personal growth in your crafting and "Artistry". I so love the work you do.

    Love you - Leslie

  3. This is such an important and powerful post. I have always loved painting since I was a child and loved all arts/crafts/music etc although I am a tech geek in my day job :) When I sit down to create, I over think and worry about being perfect the first time around and feel bad when I screw up. Your post and pledge will now stay with me and I so thank you for making me think differently and just enjoy the artistic process! Thank you so much!


Thank you for taking the time to stop by for a visit and commenting! Your input means a lot to me. Have a great day! ~Jann