We all have it, whether or not we choose to express it. Some of us don’t give ourselves permission and others deny its existence. But I believe the urge to create, to give voice to beauty, passion and emotion, is quintessentially human. Sure, other species create – and it’s hard to ignore the majesty of a rain-damp spider web – but they do it in the name of survival.
We create because it lights up our soul and illuminates the world around us. Walk into any art museum and look at the faces around you. You’ll see wonder, contemplation, transcendence and – every once in a while – a good, old-fashioned case of consternation. Same goes in the reading room at the library, and if the lights were on in a concert hall or a dance theater, I bet you’d witness it there, too. In all of its forms, art has power. Humanity seems to have been connecting with that, reveling in it, since we first modeled crude clay sculptures and painted on cave walls.
I’m a practice what you preach gal, so I’ve been dragging my kids to museums for years, playing a wild variety of music in my house, watching Shakespeare with them even when the words “didn’t make sense” and keep not one but three storage spaces in my house devoted to art supplies. Last summer, rather than taking all the odds and ends of colored house paints to the dump on toxic waste disposal day, we bought a bunch of inexpensive canvases at Big Lots, picked up free paint sticks and a bag of short bamboo garden stakes at Home Depot, and invited our friends over for a Paint Like Jackson Pollack Party. It was so much fun, everyone else has started saving and collecting paints so we can do it again this summer. I wouldn’t say we came up with museum quality masterpieces, but every one of those paintings made it home with its maker and ended up proudly displayed on the wall somewhere in their house. The point wasn’t execution; it was experience. Those pieces are a reminder of a day well spent.
Last week, my eight-year-old came home from school and told me their art teacher had read them a picture book called The Dot. He said I had to buy it, that I would love it and it would make me so happy. I couldn’t resist that recommendation, so I hopped on Amazon and ordered it. He was right. I LOVE it. It makes me SO happy. I’ve now recommended it to three of my adult friends, all of whom have rushed out to buy it.
Peter H. Reynolds’ award winning children’s book is a simple story with simple illustrations, but the messaging is brilliant. Mark your mark. Don’t let anyone – including yourself – tell you what you can’t do. A little encouragement goes a long way. And yes, there’s an artist in all of us. If you haven’t connected with yours yet, take the leap. You might be surprised and delighted by what you discover.