"But I Don't Have My Own Unique Style"

Just stop it right now. I assure you, you do. You're just not ready to give up control yet. 

Let me explain. Tapping into your own style was, to me, one of the hardest things to do and I still struggle with it every day. I, like every other person on this sweet earth, began my creative journey with crayons and the rule that I must stay within the lines. Move forward to art classes in school, we are taught, yet again, that there are "rules". We are groomed from the onset that there is a right and a wrong way, a structure, if you will, to what we are suppose to do when we put pencil to paper. What we are not often taught is that, at some point, it's okay to bend those rules or, in my case, just plain break them. 

The only true rule to art is to do exactly what your heart tells you to do. For me, no matter how hard I tried, my mind wanted to control the brush and my heart lost the battle. It wasn't until a very low point in my life that I was able to fully engage my heart and I can tell you, it has been freedom like no other. To simply lose yourself in art, to let your heart lead the brush and allow your mind to rest has been the best therapy I could ever ask for. It has brought me the true joy of art.

It all boils down to fear. We've heard it a million times; fear is the root of all evil. 

We are afraid to get out of our comfort zone, to break the rules, but most of all, we are afraid to fail. We compare ourselves to other artists and we tell ourselves "But mine isn't as good as theirs."

Who gives a damn? You don't have to be them. You don't want to be them. You weren't meant to be them. You have your own message. You have your own unique and beautiful gift to offer the world and you will rob so many of a blessing by not letting your own light shine. 

I'll share an example of what I do when I teach children to paint and maybe it'll help you better see what I mean. 

I start by giving them a blank canvas, brushes and a disposable plate loaded with all the colors they will need for the project. Before we even put the first brush into the paint, as a matter of fact the whole time I'm divvying out supplies, I hear the same question over and over; "What are we going to paint, Mrs. Dana?" My answer is always the same, "You'll see soon enough." 

Once we all have our supplies, I head to my canvas to begin. I tell them to pick up their brushes and dip it into the red paint. I then go to my canvas and make a random stroke. I ask them to do the same thing in approximately the same place on their canvas. I keep doing this in incredibly random places across the canvas, over and over, all of us changing colors throughout the process. They continue to ask "What are we painting?" to which I give my same reply, "You'll see soon enough." They are obviously confused but they continue to do what I'm asking of them (Probably because, at this point, they've just assumed I've lost my mind.) 

Before you know it, their painting is coming together and they begin to excitedly recognize what we are painting. 

You see, going into it without any preconceived notion of what it's "supposed" to look like allowed them to overcome the hurdle of control. It allowed them to just relax and go with the flow. Their rule of "staying within the lines" had been thrown out the back door and they didn't even know it. 

The best thing about this process is watching them stand back and see how all of the paintings were the same in color and subject, but they are all very different. Each of the kids had their own "heartstrokes" in their work. Some strokes were long and ran into other colors, some were short and choppy, some were heavy and some light, some tapered at the end forming a nice mix of thick and thin lines, but the point is, each stroke was individually their own intuitive heart-lead stroke because their mind had no idea what they were actually putting it there for. 

Apply this same concept to your art. Are you going into it with an expectation of how it should turn out? Is it because you are trying to mimic someone else whose work you admire? Is it because you're afraid that if it doesn't turn out the way you expected it, you'll be a failure? 

Let me give you this in closing. Not a single soul saw the vision in your head when you started. So did you really fail? Maybe what you envisioned wasn't meant to be. Maybe what you created was exactly what was suppose to be shared with the world. Share it, own it and love it for what it is. It is uniquely and beautifully yours. Once you find peace in the contrast of what you wanted it to be and what it actually is, you'll begin giving up control and start trusting the message your heart is trying to share. It is then that your very own style will develop. And that style will undoubtedly be the story of your heart and soul in visual picture. I cannot wait to see how beautiful it will be! 


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