At the beginning of 2013, I vowed to stop putting off things that I’ve always wanted to do. Along with many other goals, learning to paint and draw were high on my list. Ever since I could remember, I looked with envy upon those who were artistic. My youngest daughter has drawn since she was knee high to a grasshopper and I longed to do the same. Yet, because of an incident that happened when I was a child, I’d convinced myself that I was not creative; thus, I couldn’t possibly draw or paint.
Unlike many past New Year’s resolutions that ultimately fall to the wayside, I began to seek out ways to be creative, and particularly, to draw and paint. It was not feasible for me to take actual in-person classes, so I went online. To my surprise, I discovered scores of artists who taught painting, mixed media and drawing through online e-courses. Frankly, I was skeptical of the idea of an e-course that might effectively teach these skills. I finally realized that my hesitation had less to do with skepticism and more to do with fear, and I threw caution to the wind and registered for my first painting course. From the beginning, I was hooked.
I am happy to say that I’ve taken three courses this year and am already registered for 2 year long courses in 2014. The above painting is from my most recent course with the amazing artist Flora Bowley. The course was a life changer and cemented my love for painting and the whole painting process. Although the course has ended, I have six months to wade through the course materials and lessons, and the painting continues.
In addition, now, I can say with confidence that I can draw. I stumbled upon Jane Davenport’s “Draw Happy” class and within a week, let go of the foolish notion that “I can’t draw.” It took about a week of mistakes and wearing down an eraser, but with Jane’s detailed and clear instructions, I drew/painted/collaged this beauty:
I love her! Granted, I am still trying to draw one to rival her, but I have no doubts that it will happen. I know that with practice and hard work, I can draw. Currently, I am registered in three of Jane’s e-courses, and I just added another drawing e-course, Fabulous Faces, to my line up. The course is taught by the artist Tamara Laporte.
Usually, by this time of the year, I find myself ruminating upon all of the things that I intended to do in the past year, but didn’t. It is true that I fell short of many of my 2013 to-do’s, but I’ve decided that instead of dwelling on the negatives, I will focus my attention on my accomplishments. I mean, I finally let go of my inner fears and negative self-talk and proved to myself that I can do whatever I chose, be it painting or drawing. I’ve come to understand that there are no limits on what I can achieve, except those that I place on myself. Learning the art of photography and becoming fluent in Spanish are next on my wish list, and I look forward to 2014 with excitement instead of trepidation. By this time next year, I intend to say with confidence, “Yo hablo español.”
Facebook has allowed me to meet so many talented, interesting and amazing people. One of those people is Mary Costanza: A Woman’s Heart and Soul. Her page speaks to every woman and those who love them. It is a community wherein a woman is reminded of her strength, beauty, power and self-worth. Mary reminds women that within them is the key to every secret dream and desire.
Granted, I regularly find that it is as if Mary’s posts speak directly to my heart, but I found a recent one especially compelling. In it, Mary writes about self-expression, which is a topic that is near and dear to my heart. She writes:
She slowly began the process of self expression. She had so much in her heart and soul that she wanted to share with the world. She was tired of being so damn passive, quiet and unknown, and hiding in the shadows. She had a voice and wanted to share who she was with the world. She didn’t want to be loud and obnoxious; she wanted to express herself with class and style, and a little mystery. So she said to herself, let’s go for it, let’s be brave and bold, and let’s step out into the unknown, and with a deep breath, she began to write what she was feeling in her heart and soul, and the creativity was unstoppable, it’s like the sky above opened up and just started pouring down on her. Idea after idea just keep coming, the ideas kept coming so quickly that she couldn’t keep up with them all. She said I am not afraid anymore, she said I’ll dye my hair purple, red, gold whatever color she feels like wearing that day, she’ll wear leather, cover her body in tattoos, buy a Harley, travel the world, have a beer for breakfast or whatever it may be to express what she is feeling inside. She knows that there are those that will judge and criticize her, but she does care anymore, she is old enough, wise enough and brave enough to admit she is a little wild, and wants to be free, and she now knows it’s time to free that wild woman inside, it’s time for her to come out and play, she not hiding her anymore. The beauty of self expression, it can’t be explained; it can only be lived.
For the most part, I discovered self-expression through my role as a trial lawyer. I expect that given the public mindset of lawyers as a whole, it seems odd that one equates the practice of law with self-expression. Nevertheless, as a lawyer, I was able to express myself through one of my favorite medium — writing. More surprising, however, was the extent to which trying cases allowed the actor in me to flourish and blossom. Although representing the client was my first priority as an attorney, doing so placed me at center stage with an opportunity to orchestrate a performance wherein the most compelling, persuasive, engaging and believable party was deemed the victor. In most cases, that party was mine and justice was indeed served.
After years of practicing law, fibromyalgia forced me to resign from my active law practice. I landed on disability. For a very long time, my health took center stage and the idea of self-expression was frivolous and thus banished. In illness, I lost myself and with it the need for self-expression. The passage of time silenced that part of me that delighted in or curious about the act of creation or self-expression. I came to deny that such a need existed. I was lulled into an existence where my thoughts and feelings were unimportant and the only thing that mattered was my ill health and all that it had taken from me. I was told repeatedly that this was an opportunity that few had — a clean slate upon which to create the life that I wanted. I wanted no part of it.
However, as time passed, I began to yearn for a creative outlet that allowed me to express myself in new and exciting ways. With that in mind, I created a list of activities that I wanted to learn and incorporate it into my life as a positive and healthy form of self-expression; something to counter and out weigh the self-defeating thoughts and ideas that had become the norm. I sought to banish the idea that I was not and could not be creative.
During the past year, I’m beginning to overcome the word “can’t” and surrender to both drawing and painting. I am allowing myself to explore various forms of self-expression, some new like photography, painting, and drawing, and others like journaling, blogging and even writing. I’ve come to realize that the move of the hips in dance, every line of a pencil in drawing, every mark or stroke of a brush in painting and every word choice in writing or song, conveys a particular thought, idea, or feeling. Through these forms of self-expression, we release fear and anger, as well as love, joy and happiness. Embracing self-expression can be an antidote to negative thinking, pain and sorrow and an affirmation of forgiveness, physical, mental, emotional and spiritual growth and self-acceptance.
As I read Mary’s post, I found myself nodding in agreement with one sentence after another. She expresses, far better than I, my thoughts, the why and nature of self-expression, and its’ pull that once unleashed is self-fulfilling. Her words remind me that self-expression is yet another of the precious gifts given to humans as a product of being human, of being alive, and “that it can’t be explained, it can only be lived.”