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Why do I need to convince people to paint?

I recently had the wonderful opportunity to take part in a Maker’s Festival, an event which is held every year in Norwich, a showcase of Norfolk’s talents, artists and makers, arts and crafts.

Many demonstrations were being given and mine was ‘Pick up a Paintbrush’, where I encouraged people of all ages and artistic abilities, to do just that, to paint whatever they wanted to, and just take a short while away from the hubbub of the busy day; to get creative. It was such an amazing time and I was so busy all day as so many people wanted to paint and thoroughly enjoyed it!

However, not everybody was willing, as obviously, art isn’t everybody’s thing.

What did strike a cord with me though was, not just one or two, but quite a lot of people had self-depreciating comments. “I can’t paint”, “It would be a waste of time as I haven’t painted anything since I was a child”. Or “I would love to, but I never have the time”. One lady actually said “I used to love art and was going to take it as one of my options but my teacher told me not to bother as I wasn’t that good at it and I was more suited to the science modules, so there was no point in pursuing a career in the arts as I wasn’t good enough to make it”. I have heard people say this about their teachers many times, it’s incredible, and sadly they have just given up on art.

But I am talking about people who’s thing is art, and have had their confident squashed, and are now reluctant to follow what they love. I felt as those people sat down with me, they gradually opened up as I gained their confidence. They produced some lovely artworks and told me they would carry on with painting. I was also asked if I ran art workshops which was something I was considering before the lock-down and which I’m definitely looking into doing now. It was definitely a two way experience. I felt amazing that I was helping and encouraging people to create and talk about their anxieties and they hopefully went away more confident and happy with their creating experience with me.

I also found with some people, and I must admit that I have been guilty of this in the past, of thinking it selfish to take care of, or to nurture oneself by using art as a means to relax or as a form of self help. As if it were viewed as something to be frowned upon in society, like there’s so many other things more worthwhile that I should be doing instead and art was a waste of time. It was as if a voice in my head was disapproving or the opinions of others were assessing me. This is not true, as to be honest, no one really cares as they are far too absorbed with themselves and whatever they are doing.

“I can’t paint”, is something that I hear from people all the time, and it just simply isn’t true. Just a doodle helps to relax the mind and disengage from the flow of the everyday. A bit like a meditation, I feel. A quick sketch of a flower, while sitting in your garden, or from a plant in your home, hones your attention to detail. How a flower is ’put together’ from stem to leaf to stamen to petal, gives that intense concentration, allowing you to get into your art zone. Or just to draw a circle or line, abstract and weaving in and out, who knows where that will take you?

Add some colour if you wish; some pencil, felts or watercolour. Just wonderful.

(You know, a few years ago I was reluctant to use colour, a sort of fear of not knowing what to do with it, and for it to ruin what I had drawn. Now I love it! Just having confidence, not worrying, making plenty of mistakes and just doing lots of art!)

It’s a very human thing to want to create ‘as we are created we strive to create’ sort of thing. For me art is an expression; a form of self-expression and a kind of therapy; an outlet. I feel it’s different from other taught subjects due to this.

I feel that if art is an expression of the self, by being told things like “you can’t paint/draw etc, one’s confidence is reduced and anxiety begins as ‘I’m not good enough’, or could be interpreted by the individual as ‘I can’t express myself properly’ and they sadly just give up.

In my view, there is no right or wrong in art, just self-expression. Others may judge whether they like it or not, as all art is open to interpretation and everybody has different tastes. But art is good for you, and in my opinion, should be encouraged as much as possible.

Thank You for reading.

Sue x

Please visit my website for my paintings, to view and/or purchase, and for some inspiration to get painting at

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