Art Trends and Authenticity

It seems that every few years there is another trend in the arts and crafts world. Scrapbooks, altered books, artist trading cards, Zentangle, and now adult coloring books. I was reminded of the adult coloring book fad as I walked into a local Barnes and Noble, and saw a display of couple dozen books in the entry way. I am intrigued by these trends since they seem to last a few years, and then it’s onto something else.

I think these all simply speak to our innate need to create. There’s something inside of us all that we want to share with the world, and we have this feeling that this thing, whatever it is that we want to share, will bring some meaning and some purpose to our lives. Creating something, whether it’s painting, drawing, singing, dancing, writing, or inventing, is a way for us to have a piece of ourselves out in the world. It’s an act of manifestation as we try to bring forth a part of our inner world, our inner vision.

Everyone has this desire to leave their mark on the world, and the struggle to fulfill this desire leads many into the "creative arts". They see someone painting, or building, or singing, or writing, and the say,”Hey! I’d love to do that.” For many that is where the little voice in their heads takes over spreading doubt and fear, and the initial excitement subsides into negative self talk. People talk themselves right out of even trying, and they say “Hey. I’d live to do that, BUT I don’t have the talent or the imagination. I could never do anything like that.” So, they look for something safe, something with a known outcome, something that keeps the inner critic at bay while quelling the urge to create.

Many people turn to the latest trend to try their hand at creating. It’s less intimidating, it involves less risk, and it often involves less thinking and imagination. For a while this foray into the latest crafty craze feeds that urge to make and create, but then, it can lose its appeal. These trends can be unfulfilling in the long run because the Spirit is always looking for authenticity. Following someone else’s directions, leaving all the decisions to someone else, and coloring in someone else’s drawing or design can leave a hollow feeling. We want to be original. We want to create and not simply make, and if we can't find a way to turn these fashionable art forms into authentic expressions, we can lose interest in them. We then look for the next greatest thing, and the cycle continues.

It's no easy task to be original if we’ve had a lifetime of people, even ourselves, telling us that we are not creative, imaginative, artistic or talented. When we’re filled with fear and doubt we need to let go of the past, not worry about the future, and focus on the present. We can only create in the here and now.

But how do we do that? How do we quiet the inner critique and stay present? How do we find an authentic inner vision? Well, that’s my mission, and I have some vague notions and ideas right now. I am looking forward to sharing more when those ideas have gelled into something more concrete.