Whether you class yourself as a ‘creative person’ or struggle to see yourself in a creative light, I truly believe that we all have an inner artist just waiting to be unleashed.
Sometimes it can feel harder to access. Self doubt about what does (and doesn’t!) constitute creativity gets in the way. It’s something I hear a lot from my students, which is why I felt called to write this blog post – it’s my small way of helping you tap into your creative calling.
What is an inner artist?
An inner artist is exactly what it says on the tin: it is that creative artist inside of us – ALL of us – that just needs confidence, compassion and encouragement to be unleashed.
As a child, we hold this inner artist close to our chest. We fingerpaint just for the joy of it. We dance and sing with abandon. We scribble stories across colourful notebooks. Why does this connection to our creative soul get quieter and quieter as we grow older?
As Picasso said, ‘Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist when he grows up.’
So, our aim is to reconnect with the essence of who we are – to kindle the creative flame that fear has dampened.
Why should you nurture your inner artist?
The desire to nurture your inner artist is about so much more than refining your craft. Art can be relaxing and meditative, fun and joyful, fulfilling and freeing. Discovering and nurturing your inner artist can therefore provide you with a huge range of life affirming benefits.
In a digitally exhausting world, art gives us much needed time away from technology. This time can be just for you, if you want it to be. You can use it to express and discover more about yourself, practice patience, step into your confidence and slow down. To switch off and dig into your roots.
As a result, you may experience a greater sense of connection to the world around you, reduced levels of stress and an improved sense of wellbeing. All from setting your creative spirit free. Not bad, right?
Nurturing our inner artist is an important step for all of us; whatever our stage of the creative journey. Whether you are so used to the core belief that you simply aren’t creative, or need a hefty boost of inspiration and confidence in your work, it’s something that we can all benefit from.
1 – Embrace your imperfections.
First thing’s first – you need to embrace your imperfections. No one is perfect, and that’s okay. A perfectionist mindset makes us focus on the negatives, convincing ourselves that we aren’t good enough. This leaves us scared to try.
“Imperfection is a form of freedom.”
– Anh Ngo.
When we are either trying to be perfect, or avoiding an activity entirely through the fear that we will ‘mess it up’, we do ourselves a disservice. It is through our imperfections that true joy rests – that beautiful ability to be in the moment, regardless of how it looks to the outside world.
You will make mistakes or create work you are not completely happy with; this is inevitable. The key is to make sure when this happens, they don’t crush you. By being more open to these imperfections, you will also be more open to trying new things. This could be experimenting with watercolours, or sitting with a sketchbook and doodling. It’s an underestimated but incredibly important means of growing; something we often forego as we are chasing for that perfect finished result instead. This action – with or without mistakes – will only serve to maximise your momentum. You’ll learn from the process, and tweak and adapt ready for next time.
Most importantly, being more prepared to make mistakes will mean you’re more likely to give it a try… Which is, afterall, the first step!
2 – Focus on the process
When we fixate on the end goal, we lose the true power of art: the process itself. The process of art holds enormous influence… Both from a mindful and growth perspective.
If you want your art to be a relaxing activity, then the process should feel meditative. Focus on your breathing and the movement of the brush stroke, pencil, pen – whatever you choose! – as you create your art. Be fully present in the moment rather than fixating on the end result. This is incredibly gratifying. It is a very special experience to see something that you have created materialise in front of your eyes. Plus, by focusing on the process, you are more likely to achieve greater results as results are always the outcome of the process that comes before it.
On the other hand, if you want to use your art as a means of learning, put your attention into the individual steps. As mentioned above, see each “mistake” as a lesson. Allow your mind to grow fuller and fuller with every moment.
The process of art tells you so much more about you as an artist (and a human!) than any finished masterpiece. Lean into that.
3 – Be kind to yourself
Kindness and self-compassion cannot be underestimated; especially when it comes to speaking to your inner artist.
Do you ever find yourself showering your loved ones with kindness and support, and yet rarely show yourself that same love and attention? Yep, it’s something I’m definitely guilty of. And while it may not come naturally, being kinder and more encouraging to yourself will actually give your confidence the permission to grow.
The alternative – hours spent analysing your mistakes, comparing yourself to others, telling yourself that you’ll never be good enough – is damaging. You cannot expect your inner artist to show their face if they know that this is what they’ll be greeted with.
Instead, try giving yourself compliments about your work. Encourage your artistic ability. Speak to yourself with love and happiness. Celebrate your uniqueness. And do it consistently.
I promise you, this will totally transform your artistic expression and mindset.
4 – Change your language
Your language can be broken down into two different strands – flipping the negative narrative and then committing to regular creative affirmations.
This is something that I have REALLY had to work hard on. Far too often I would say ‘no’ to a creative project that I wanted to work on, but didn’t feel like I had the time or was ready. Now I say ‘not yet’. I also try to catch myself when I say things like ‘I don’t have the time’ and instead try to say ‘I will do what I can’. This can be far more empowering and ultimately helps me make better decisions.
These subtle changes will mean you are opening yourself up to action; plus, doing so with a positive and clear attitude.
While you are enjoying this shift in your narrative, why not bring creative affirmations into your daily practice? This is something I have written a whole blog about, which you can find here.
5 – Connect with your why
Finally (and most importantly, in my opinion), connect with your why. This underpins EVERYTHING that you will do as an artist. It should be your North Star, moving you towards your ultimate dreams and desires.
Ask yourself: why is art important to you, why do you create and what does it bring to your life? Remember – my why will be different to yours. We are all beautifully unique beings; that’s what makes art so exciting. Being fully rooted in who you are and why you do what you do provides a solid foundation upon which to build all of our creativity: a foundation so rock solid, it’s near enough impossible to push us away from.
Whenever you feel self doubt, or have received criticism, or are dwelling on a past mistake, take yourself back to your why. This will remind you that you are so much more than other people’s thoughts and your inner critic.
“Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time.”
– Thomas Merton
If you are looking to dig deeper into your mindset and lay the foundations for a creative life, why not take a look at my new Mindset for Artists class on Skillshare? You will learn how to deal with mindset challenges as well as how to build your confidence, access inspiration, find time to paint and ultimately nurture your creativity and your inner artist. If you’re not already on Skillshare, use my link here to try it out for free for a month!