Everyone Is An Artist

everyone is an artist

At the start of May, Ontario County welcomed the Midwest Travel Writers Association as the group embarked on its annual conference.

For nearly a week, the writers were wined and dined throughout the Finger Lakes, and invited to experience the best that our area has to offer. So naturally, I was honored that not only was I a panelist for a discussion on “branding you,” but I was also asked to host a plein air painting class for the writers on a beautiful Saturday morning.

For those of you unfamiliar with plein air painting, “en plein air” is a French phrase for painting “in open air” — or, quite simply, painting outdoors. With beautiful weather and paints in hand, we took to the iconic Canandaigua boathouses that stretch along the pier: a perfect backdrop of vibrant colored houses and bright blue water.

As suspected, there is some hesitation when you gather people who excel in other areas and hand them a paintbrush and a blank canvas. But for all of you who are compelled to say “But I’m not an artist!”, “I don’t know how to paint”, or “I can’t even draw a straight line!” I have only this truth to say: everyone is an artist.

What it really means to be an artist

Bear with me now. You may not have ever painted a brushstroke in your life (though I highly doubt you made it through kindergarten without doing just that!), but it’s never too late to put your inner artist to work. After just a few hours with these writers at the boathouses, here’s what they learned about what you need to bring to the table:

1. An open mind. Open your mind to the possibilities: the potential in a single brush stroke, the energy of a palette of bright, summer colors, and the possibility of creating something that is uniquely you. Inspiration is everywhere, and with an open mind, you can access that inspiration and just create.

2. Self-confidence. You don’t need to be the best. You don’t need to have years and years of experience. You just need to know that you can. Let go of those negative thoughts that have kept you from trying and know that you are enough.

3. Presence. With your mind open and the self-confidence you need to get started, that last crucial element you need to be able to call yourself an artist is the ability to be present. Shut down distractions, clear your head, and just be. It’s in this particularly open state that you’ll have the power to truly focus.

What painting can do for you

So you know that you have what it takes, but what makes it all worthwhile? Let’s consider this: have you heard about the incredible popularity of adult coloring books? They’re taking the world by storm at the moment, and for good reason. Like many other forms of art, sinking yourself into a creative mindset allows you to:

1. Unplug. No phone. No TV. No computer. Life entirely sans screens is, for the most part, impossible, but brief periods where you can unplug are key to finding presence and opening your mind to the world in front of you. (More on that, here.)

2. De-stress. Artwork has proven to be vital for stress relief. Art therapy reduces tension in your body, clears your mind of negative thoughts, and fosters self-awareness. And when we live in a high-stress world, it’s critical that we learn to manage our own levels. (It’s why those adult coloring books are back-ordered on Amazon right now.)

3. Get back to basics. You don’t need the “latest and greatest” in order to be an artist. It can start with a pencil and a napkin, if it’s what you’ve got. A basic set of paints and a blank canvas? Even better. The beauty of creating art is that you start where you are and use what you have — no fancy tech gadgets or learning manuals required.

The writers and I would both agree on that beautiful Saturday morning: being unplugged, sans stress, and getting back to basics was the perfect way to kick off the day and weekend.

Accept your role as an artist

Tie your hair back. Let your guard down. Be present. When you get past the barriers of feeling like you’re not an artist and accept art as a necessary and welcome part of your life, you’ll be amazed at the transformations you experience.

Painting does that for me, and when you accept the inner artist in you, it can do the same for you. Whether it’s coloring books, painting, or composing a song, repeat after me: everyone is an artist.