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Thoughts on Creativity: Do You Consider Yourself Uncreative?

Courtney Hopkins at studio desk looking at painting
As I've been working through a lot of my recent work, including my Ireland art collection currently in progress, I've been noticing a pattern of thought when creating each and every piece that has reminded me of conversations that I've had with some of you before.
The pattern goes as such: I start out strong, full of confidence, with a sketched direction in place and fresh paint on the palette. Next, once I've got the rough color areas blocked in, my confidence starts to drop as I work to add detail and turn the rough blocks of color into more realistically recognizable elements. What's known as the "messy middle" hits and the dreaded thought reappears: "uhhh.... I'm not sure if I can do this."
It is so frustrating to hit this point; the point where I question if I can actually pull it off - whether I have the talent needed to make it good enough. It happens in every single piece of art that I make, without exception. The final part of the thought process happens when I manage to reach the "end" of the painting and I decide to put the brush down. My thoughts at this point are usually, "Wow... Ok then! That turned out a little different than I planned but much better than I thought it would back when I was in the middle of it!".
courtney at easel sketching

Because I've been making so many art pieces within a short amount of time recently, I started to become very aware of this pattern and I started to think about what it was, specifically, that got me from the "messy middle" to the relief of a finished painting. In my personal case, it's a lot of stubbornness. I really hate giving up and quitting, especially when I've spent so much time and effort on something. I also remember the joy I experience when I face a challenge and prove to myself that I'm capable. Those 2 things are what pull me through every time. It's about breaking problems down into small sections and tackling them patiently one at a time and ignoring the part of your brain that tells you to give up and quit. It's a lot like life in that way.

That realization got me thinking about conversations that I've had with many of you. The thing I hear most often when I meet people and they see my work is that there's not a creative bone in their body or that they aren't artistically talented at all. Several questions later I then discover that the same person actually has at least one area of their life in which they are, in fact, very creative in their own way. It may not be painting, but maybe it's wood burning, gardening, wreath crafting, cooking, playing music, carpentry, or carefully curating their home's decor. All of these are ways that actual people who have told me they're not creative, are actually creative on a regular basis. It's so easy to look next to us and feel lesser than because we admire what our neighbor is doing to the point of becoming blind to our own unique value and aptitude. As they say, "comparison is the thief of joy".

The adjoining misconception is that you either were born with talent or you're doomed. I think it's true that some people are born with a natural proclivity towards certain things. Maybe painting comes more naturally to me than someone else, but that doesn't mean that it's always easy and effortless. In fact, it can be quite the opposite.

I guess, to get to my point, is that if you're feeling down about not feeling talented or capable, I can personally recommend the following tincture: 1 portion of looking at other areas of your life where you got through something you initially didn't think you could + a healthy dash of stubbornness. It has certainly served me and you might just surprise yourself!

I would honestly love to hear from you and know in what areas of your life are you creative and/or what are specific ways you work through challenges. Please do comment below or send me a personal message if you'd like to chat about it!

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1 comment

  • Hi Courtney!
    I am a mixed media artist and have had the exact thing happen to me…often!! The mess in the middle! Sometimes it gets the toss in the trash, but more often I say to myself.“Let’s Fix this!” My stubborn streak usually figures it out, and although not exactly what I was going for, it comes out great!
    I love your artworks! I hope to buy a piece at some point! So looking forward to your new arrival too! Best wishes to you both!! So exciting! I am a retired nursery/NICU nurse so I love babies ! I had 3 girls, my youngest lives in Charlottesville and is a master stylist at Moxie Hair Lounge…maybe you know Emily! She used to live close to Palmyra but now is in Pantops! (I just love that funny name!) Have a great productive day!!

    Adrienne McMurdy

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