Sunday, February 26, 2023

Rediscovering my creativity through watercolor


Sitting at the kitchen table, I scoured the toy catalogues adding little stars to everything I wanted my mom to buy. My Christmas list always had the same theme: I want to make things. Craft kit upon craft kit would get little stars. Potholder loom? Made roughly 100 different potholders that nobody wanted or used.  Wood burning kit? Are you kidding? I still have that. Bead loom? Check. Papermaking kit? Of course.

As a child I wanted to do one thing: create.

Ipad with a video playing, watercolor of the northern lights taped to the table, art supplies scattered around

The strong urge towards creativity lasted all the way through high school. Even as a surly jaded teenager, I retained a childhood sense of wonder where art was concerned. Back them my medium was Walmart oil paint thinned with my mom’s vegetable oil (because it was cheaper). I had no tutorials, books, or guides. Just a creative urge and the local Walmart.

Then I stopped. I’m not sure when I stopped. Maybe moving into a dorm where I no longer had my own space was the death blow to my creativity. Could’ve been society’s instruction to “Grow up and do something practical with your life.” But at some point, between 18 and 22, I stopped painting. My paint tubes dried hidden on the top shelf of my closet, forgotten in my new-found adulthood.

I didn’t stop because I didn’t enjoy painting. I stopped because I wasn’t good enough to make money and that was the guiding light of being an adult.

At 36 I decided I needed to rediscover my creativity, saw an advertisement for Let’s Make Art and joined a watercolor subscription box. Back in my youth I associated watercolor with cheap dollar store palettes and plastic bristle brushes that never cooperated. I wasn’t looking to pick up watercolor. But that was what they had, and I wanted to establish a routine and a monthly subscription box seemed like the best approach. The unfamiliar medium wasn’t going to stop me.

Liquid watercolors are a dream. Not that I understood how to use them when they arrived on my doorstep. Or the brushes I bought. Or anything else. Terms like blooms and bleeding were thrown at me and we were talking flowers or ER trips.

But I was creating. Yes someone (the lovely Sarah Cray) walked me through each step. But I held the brush and the feeling was glorious, a connection with young-Cassi previously lost to the ages. This was not the sad palettes of my youth, but a beautiful and forgiving exploration of color and line.

Still, I’m a little sad to think of all the years I lost. Fourteen years where I could have been creative, honed my skills and discover my artistic vision. Because I didn’t think I was good enough. Now I believe “good enough” is a lie. It implies the reason to create is the final product. But the goal should be the act itself: creating beauty in a world that’s often overwhelmingly dark. And I am good enough to do that. The beauty I create adds, imperfections and all, rather than detracting from the world. In small little ways it improves the world, through my growing creativity and peace but also the heartfelt cards and gifts I’ve made for those I love. Making art is doing good.

Let that be enough.

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