Are you an artist? You’re probably thinking, “no, not me.” Here in the West, we’ve been taught to squelch our creative impulse — especially at work. In other cultures people live as natural artisans, creating sand paintings and song, poetry and architecture, drumming and dancing in tune with the rhythms of the Earth.
We too can allow our inner artist to live out loud. As soon as we surrender our resistance to seeing what we do as art-in-action, we become artists.
Succulence: Your Natural State
Inspirational author and artist SARK has been demonstrating how to live juicy for decades. From a 200-square-foot self-described “magic cottage” in the heart of San Francisco, she writes all her books by hand, in a profusion of colors. Each SARK creation is a feast for the senses. She says, “My name has become synonymous with transformation, color, healing, movement & FUN.”
I framed and hung her inaugural poster, How to Be An Artist, on my home office wall as I launched my first business. Her invitation to “Make signs that say yes! and post them all over your house” invoked my own creative impulse. Each night before bed, I’d face my office (set up in a corner of my tiny apartment living room) and give it the thumbs up sign. A simple, powerful, YES! for success. My business prospered.
Sarah Ban Breathnach, author of Simple Abundance, writes, “Creation has three layers: the labor, the craft, and the elevation. She who works with only her hands is a laborer; she who works with her hands and her head is a craftswoman; she who works with her hands, her head and her heart is an artist.”
An Inside Job
Consider what you do instinctively, without “training,” for the sheer joy of it. I have a friend who has designed and built several architecturally appealing houses, makes masks and jewelry, and can sit at the piano and play, effortlessly, never having taken a lesson. Obviously he’s gifted with his hands, but his ability to weave his whole being into the crafting of homes, earrings, or musical compositions elevates his talent to the sublime.
Where does it come from? “It’s a spiritual connection, like what I feel in nature,” he says. The sculptor Michelangelo, when asked how he carved his astonishing creations, replied that the statue was already there; he simply removed the superfluous marble. Few realize he was also a poet who penned sonnets that express the multidimensionality of his work. The Model And The Statue reads, in part:
When divine Art conceives a form and face,
She bids the craftsman for his first essay
To shape a simple model in mere clay:
This is the earliest birth of Art’s embrace.
Whether we’re sculpting young minds as a dedicated teacher, or tinting public opinion as a business innovator, we’re all potential Michelangelos. Because art begins with intention, a classroom, garden, music studio or tech startup are all viable settings for realizing your vision.
9 Steps to Live As A Masterpiece Right Now
How can we become our own masterpiece? First, consider how you learn best: are you predominantly visual, auditory, kinesthetic? Choose at least one activity from the list below and begin to integrate it into your life as “art school”:
- Keep a journal. Buy a beautiful blank book that calls to you, and a pen that feels comfortable in your hand. Then allow yourself to write whatever you want. No one else need ever read it unless you decide to share, so send the censor packing! Experiment by writing with your non-dominant hand, too.
- Draw, paint, or sculpt your ideal work expression. Splash your emotions onto canvas, pour them into a mold, sketch them into being. Remember, this is art from the heart: done for the sole/soul purpose of engaging your vision.
- Sing! Make up nonsense words to tunes you like, and go around singing them — in public. This is also a fabulous way to break free of the “What will people think?” mindtrap.
- Sit by moving water. Sit in moving water. Sing while sitting in a stream!
- Dance your dream career or early stage company. What does it feel like as flowing movement?
- Walk the labyrinth, an ancient meditative art form. Visit the Worldwide Labyrinth Locator to find one near you.
- Go on a weekend “media fast”: no devices of any kind for 48 hours. During this period, pay attention to your dream life; see if you have more vivid dreams and better dream recall.
- Prepare a meal that is as aesthetic as it is nutritious. As you combine ingredients, imagine you are cooking up a grander vision for your life.
- Spend a day, alone or with others, in total silence. You’ll be amazed at how refreshing this is, and how much energy you’ll have at the end of the day.
With any of these suggestions, try the form you feel least comfortable with, because that’s where you can grow the most. If it’s easy for you to write or sing, for example, but challenging to be alone in silence or to dance, allow yourself to live into the more arduous areas. Growth begins by being willing to step outside our comfort zone.
By celebrating our creativity, we reconnect with our courage, our hearts, and our minds — just as the lion, tin man and scarecrow did in The Wizard of Oz. Remember that those gifts were in them all along, waiting only to be recognized and embraced.
Your whole life is the canvas. What are the broad brushstrokes that will paint it brilliantly alive, in all your colors, combinations, creativity?