"All Art Requires Courage"

How many people think this is true? It's a quote by Anne Tucker, who was a museum curator in the States... I don't find much more about her but her words are quoted widely. Interestingly, these particular words found their way into my life in June 2018. I was attending the Certified Zentangle Teacher's seminar in Providence, Rhode Island. (You knew it had something to do with Zentangle, didn't you?)

In the very first session, I found myself sitting next to none other than Shie Naritomi, already something of a tangling legend by the time she attended the training. I couldn't believe it! Talk about star-struck...but what a beautiful person she is. But as it happens, I moved my seat and only saw her briefly after our one session next to each other. In the break, I found a couple attending from the Canary Islands, Pinito and her son Dani, who, despite speaking English pretty well, were finding it a bit tricky at times to follow the narrative of Rick and Maria. They have this endearing habit of wandering off into an anecdote, memory or little story during their teaching, often filling in little bits of each other's conversation and finishing sentences for each other. As a learner of another language, I know how difficult it can be to follow a meandering train of thought, so I offered to sit with them and whisper explanations now and then.

So at the start of the next session, everyone was seated and expectant apart from me. I was collecting my things from one side of the enormous ballroom, which was our 'home' for the teaching session, and tiptoeing across to the opposite side of the room. Suddenly, I was stopped in my tracks as I heard my name called out by Rick! I was momentarily mortified! I felt like a naughty schoolgirl...my own conscience speaking, not Rick's tone, I have to add! It took another call of my name for me to lift my head and start to apologise for holding up the proceedings...but, Rick was beaming and holding something up in his hand. I had won an original piece of work by Maria in one of the raffle draws!

And here it is, framed (yes, I'm going to reframe it but I keep getting distracted) and on my wall next to my CZT certificate.

I could not have been happier (or more relieved!) It was yet another wonderful moment from Providence and I hope to share some of the others in my blog at a later date. However, just for a bit longer, I want to pursue the concept of Courage.

I have probably always been, if not courageous, then willing to follow my instincts. Sometimes, in retrospect, it amounts to the same thing although I think it is easier to be instinctive than to deliberately act in a courageous manner. I know that a lot of artists, musicians, performers, authors feel tremendous fear in the face of their creative impulses. In many cases, they turn that fear into courage, which is the energy that pushes them to carry on creating. It was Henri Matisse who said 'another word for creativity is courage' although I suspect he said it in French... How many people have had their creativity squashed or crushed in childhood, or due to damaging criticism at an impressionable or vulnerable time? It is difficult to bounce back, to face judgement, to take rejection.

But hang on, this isn't just true of art and artists! It's true in life. We all have our own creativity. Sometimes we have nurtured it or had it nurtured in us, sometimes it's a quiet thing that gently encourages a personal passion, sometimes it says 'SHARE THIS WITH THE WORLD' but I do think it's in us all. I think I agree with Matisse. I think it is creativity that requires courage. Creativity is not limited to 'artists'. Creativity includes responding to others. It includes being inspired by what you see around you - and not just by the 'good' stuff. The art is often in how you express that response...but it's important that we don't put limits on what 'art' is. It doesn't need to be 'out there', it doesn't need to be shared. But we should all find our own way to express the creativity we have inside and we should not expect to be judged or criticised for it. Just getting it out takes the courage. Let's all be creative. Let's all be courageous.

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