It’s almost like there’s a script. I’ll be sitting in a public place sketching and someone will wander by, eye my sketchbook with interest and . . . longing. And then tell me about how they used to love drawing, or coloring, or painting, or some other creative endeavor. And how they realized they weren’t good enough, or were unworthy, or made to feel ashamed in some way for the simple act of picking up a pencil or crayon and letting themselves create.
Time for an intervention.
There’s more going on here than a lack of belief in someone’s creative ability. There’s a vulnerability around the SELF. You can feel it . . . grief and regret, a longing for that simple immersion into art. This is someone who used to find such a happiness in art. What happened here? Sometimes, if I ask, they’ll tell me the story. These stories hurt my heart.
Somewhere inside each of these folks the spirit of that happy little kid who was so excited to pick up the crayons is still there, missing the color, longing for the freedom. That little kid needs to be told that IT IS OKAY to make messy, fabulous, playful art. Or serious, expressive art. Whatever they need art to be.
So… how to reach that spirit?
Let’s start with mixed media maven Suzi Blu! Suzi believes that everyone has a right to be creative, and that your work doesn’t have to be revered by the establishment or displayed in a museum to have value. Your art is for YOU, and it doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks of it. The value is in the making of it. If you get a pretty picture at the end, great! But the outcome is not essential. What is essential is your presence.
She teaches that your art journal is a safe space for you to explore and play. I think I first saw her videos (*gasp* — Really, it’s been that long?) NINE years ago. (Youtube link to an early one here! I STILL sing the art journal club song from this video. It makes my husband look at me funny.) I used an sketchbook before that, and sometimes took art supplies with me when I took my son to the playground. But Suzi helped me stop judging my work so harshly. I started carrying an art journal with me nearly everywhere. And the confidence and practice, those two things made a huge difference in my daily art experience.
Seriously. Go watch a couple of those early videos. (If you’re in a creative slump, it might help you.) Warning: you may not be able to start, once you’ve started.
It’s okay. I’ll wait for you here.
Since those first videos, Suzi has helped thousands of people hand the crayons back to their inner child. She teaches classes, “playshops,” and leads online groups. She’s not just teaching technique. She’s leading people through an experience of making art in a joyful, exploratory way. And along the way, she helps them find their belief in themselves. As fun and free-thinking autonomous individuals. As creators of their own life’s paths. Suzi believes, and demonstrates, that art is not something you do, but rather a way of living.
There’s something about her approach that is especially appealing to women. Some guys like Suzi, too. But her message resonates particularly with women. So many of us are broken in the same ways. And art can help us heal. Suzi’s walked that particular path, and it’s a topic she revisits in her art and in her videos. Sometimes we may need a little guidance in how to start that healing journey. Suzi can help with that.
Whether she’s showing you how to make a messy, ecstatically freeform multi-layer background, demonstrating how to shade beautifully with colored pencils, or dancing around in a tiara with puppets while singing, Suzi’s real gift is helping you discover your authentic, creative self. And that’s all kinds of awesome.
Suzi’s Patreon page is a great place to find cool monthly classes, and an involved creative community to help the seeker. Suzi has led me to take my art in directions I may not have thought to try years ago, stretching my ability, and helping me learn to trust myself. It’s been a lot of fun. Check her out!
(Plus, her dog is Very Cute. Bonus.)