Art is just play, right?

One of the tapes that plays in my head around doing art is I need to be doing important things right now.  I need to be doing (fill in the blank).  I always postponed being creative or doing something that fed my soul because I need to be a grown up.   So over and over and over again I put off doing it and the further away it got I lost sight of it.  I began to believe the lies I told myself that art is just play.

Okay part of art is play, but a bigger part of art is work.  At times it’s agony and extremely hard and I find myself wanting to retreat and just do it casually and with little commitment and smile and say, “Art is so much fun and when I make time for it (which I rarely did) it will be something that makes me come alive.”  (Said in a voice trying to convince itself).  I began to believe I could do something to fill me up once in a while and that would good enough.

When did I buy that anything worth doing could be done casually?  When did I come to believe that I could get better at something by just playing?  Work means an exertion or effort directed to produce or accomplish something; labor or toil.

 I’m sharing something really dangerous.  I’m saying be creative it will fill you up.  I’m also saying it will be work.  It won’t just happen.  You will have to lean into it.  You will come up against resistance.  You will look around your house and think of what else you should be doing.  At times it will be hard.
This week I found my art was so much work.  I “finished” my painting. I asked my daughter Stephany for her opinion and a 2nd set of eyes.  Don’t try this unless you
1. trust them
2. are willing to listen.
iphone 005
Her response, “I think the jar and the background are great.  The flowers just seem a bit flat in places.”  (What?…I wanted to be done!) So I processed that (agreeing with what she said) and tried several things that didn’t work and then I came up with this mess.
art 001
Her response, (a frowning face) with the words, “Maybe go back to the hydrangeas?”
I was discouraged, frustrated, wanted to quit, agreed with her assessment, but part of me just wanted to be DONE.  (Noting a pattern here).  Picking it back up today was SO hard.  I prayed and felt I had nothing, but began again.  It felt small, I was afraid and just started.  Thankfully this time it turned out better.
art 003
This time her response, “Oh much much better!!!!” (Thanks Stephany for your hard honesty).  How do I feel now?  Vulnerable, open, raw, glad I showed up and worn out!
So my question for you is do you have the courage to work at your creativity?  What are your struggles?

2 thoughts on “Art is just play, right?

  1. Hi Kathy: I love what you’ve shared! So many times I’ve gotten discouraged or not wanted to tackle “creativity” because it can be so much work and isn’t always life giving. Like all the times I’ve had to rip out seams on something I’m trying to sew. I have thought lately that creativity is kind of like a discipline or a muscle that has to be worked out to be stronger. I think your post confirms that. Way to be vulnerable with us about your amazing art and take feedback from Stephany!! It is an amazing painting!


    1. Jenni I planned on answering this and then Stephany had her baby. I totally agree with you and remember having to rip out and start over with sewing. Your right about it increasing your muscles. Thanks so much Jenni! Love to you and your family.


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