I’ve been teaching adults lately. Mostly, I put out a bunch of supplies and ideas and let grownups take a break from their real lives to play for a while. This, as you might guess, is often a challenge for them.
Last week I had two adult workshops. I encouraged everyone to abandon their fears of not making something “good,” and to let go of any ideas of what things are “supposed” to look like. I talked about some of the benefits of creative play: learning to take risks, exercising our brains in new ways, being in a space that always welcomes us and never has any expectations of us. One of my workshops was an art journaling class and my students really went out for it and made some beautiful stuff…
At the end of the session, everyone felt happy and surprised at what beauty they had made. It was cool to see people feel surprised at being able to tap into their own creative streak. But they also said they had fun and that they were surprised about that. When I look at their art, I can see the fun. Can you?
And, even though I’ve made a career out of my own creativity, I can really relate to the fears of letting go. When deadlines are piling up and people are waiting for me to finish things, when I am in the midst of producing for shows or a gallery, I can feel my playfulness being pushed out by anxiety and stress. But, I’ve been taking Lilla Roger’s “Make Art That Sells” class on art licensing for the past couple of months and, in a rather transformative way, have come to internalize her mantra, “People will buy your joy.” As a nurturing agent, and an artist in her own right, Lilla infuses all her lessons with words like “fun,” “play,” and talks about having a good time as an integral part of the constant practice of one’s craft. She says fun shows.
For our first two assignments, I had a hard time plugging into play. I was too caught up in trying to follow the prompt to the letter rather than letting my spirit put its own spin on it, too focused on the abilities of others and too afraid to make a “mistake,” whatever that is. And then I pushed all that aside and got out my collage papers. I turned on my favorite playlist, lit a nice smelling candle and got down to the business of fun. The assignment was tropical fruits and vintage pyrex. The fruits were right up my alley and, while the pyrex made me pause a bit, I was determined to stay in play mode and let it rip without fear.
The days I worked in my studio on this went by quickly. It was fun and, personally, I feel like it shows.
We can be playful in other parts of our lives, too. With our children and our families, with our partners and our spouses, with our classmates, colleagues and our associates. We can can approach our work with the idea of being in our joy and when we do this, well, it shows.
TRY THIS WEEK: Let it show.