"As an 11 year old, my primary school art teacher told me that I was one of the worst students she had ever had, and made me stay in every lunchtime for two weeks until I had produced something she thought was good. In one workshop, Aneta dissolved the perception that I had held for almost 20 years that I was a bad at art." Scott MacDonald
Have the words or actions of someone in your past affected how you see yourself today?
Perhaps they were even completely unintended to be harmful at the time, but that individual didn't consider their long term impact.
Since starting to run these workshops, I have been quite shocked to discover how many people open up about carrying such scars and how much such experiences impact people's beliefs and self identity – how much this can define them for life!
For some, in this case, it may be easy to dismiss this as being about 'just art' – and not anything important that actually matters in 'real life' (as we busily pour money at STEM subjects over the arts) – but if you see it through the lense of creative confidence, it becomes a different conversation.
More then ever, in our fast changing world, creativity is not only a nice-to-have, but it is an essential ingredient that fuels innovation, lateral thinking and problem solving skills. Without the super power of creative thinking, we limit our potential, what we are capable of solving – and creating.
Stories like Scotts are not only heart-breaking but infuriating – and in the same breath, getting such feedback, hearing that someone's experience with Charcoal and Champagne could have such a profound impact, fuels why I get up each morning.
It is important to make the distinction that there are two kinds of creativity.
The first and most important – creativity or art for one's self, fueled by the divine sense of curiosity, expression and intuition that we are born with. A space where we imagine, dream, problem solve, fantasise and explore as a child would. A space where at it's essence, there is no right or wrong.
The second, is the space where we aim to please another party, where we create, but with the burden of someone else's expectation. This may be because there is a client, a commission, a real problem to solve ... or indeed a teacher who believes they know what is 'right' in that particular lesson or project.
Becoming aware of these two distinctions, may help some realise that whilst their creativity or art may have been the victim of someones criticism in the past – there is an arena separate to the one they have experienced where they can create for themselves in and reconnect to this important part of who they are without the need to seek approval from others or trying to fit into someone else's mould.
Additionally, no one has to 'choose' between being creative or something else – this 'choosing' and deciding seems to be a horrendous side-effect of our education system where we somehow need to gradually eliminate subjects and interests out of our lives as we 'choose' others to pursue into adulthood. The box we build for ourselves to fit into gradually shrinking as we go along. Interestingly, these choices are sometimes based on what we genuinely wish to pursue, but often they are driven by other parties who (rightly or wrongly) believe they know better.
When we do choose a direction to strive towards professionally, it should be mandatory to teach people that hobbies, curiosities and passions can co-exist with careers. This way we would not only arm people with enjoying hobbies as they grow up, but also set up the perfect foundation for happy curious minds to develop, capable of stepping up to life's (and the world's) challenges ready to problem solve and innovate.
Reconnecting with your creativity
Not sure where to start? ... think back to something you use to enjoy, even if that thought takes you back to when you were a child.
Find that feeling of curiosity, exploration, expression and delight (event if it is now overshadowed by some negative experience).
BUT sometimes the best thing to do is try a bunch of things with little or NO EXPECTATION.
OVERTHINKING is your worst enemy and is a guaranteed experience killer and you will just talk yourself out of taking the first step. Just try a bunch of things even if most of them don't hit the mark. The journey is the most important part back to finding that joy and with it a form of creative confidence, and funnily enough 'stop giving a shit' about how you will go at whatever you're trying may well be the best bit of advice you get along the way!
Thank you Scott for sharing your story – I know there are many others like you out there. I also know sometimes knowing you're not alone might help others step out from such shadows and feel a little braver to explore their creative sides.
Creativity coach + Charcoal and Champagne founder
Here is Scott's full review of his experience with "Charcoal and Champagne" :
Aneta's workshop was everything we were hoping for, and more! She began by explaining her background and why she does what she does, focusing on the fact that mistakes happen in art and this is ok, ultimately becoming a beautiful part of the final product. She made us all feel comfortable and confident going into the class, and helped us all to realise that we could achieve something even if we had never considered ourselves artistic. As an 11 year old, my primary school art teacher told me that I was one of the worst students she had ever had, and made me stay in every lunchtime for two weeks until I had produced something she thought was good. In one workshop, Aneta dissolved the perception that I had held for almost 20 years that I was a bad at art. The model was respectful and Aneta created a classy environment for us to all relax and have fun. I 100% recommend Charcoal and Champagne, and will definitely be booking into one of Aneta's workshops again in the future! Scott MacDonald