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Cultivating Creativity Discover the Artist Within By Andy Braitman YOU KNOW THAT ONE PERSON AT THE GYM WHO MAKES YOU THINK, "I really want to look like that!" Yet, you never hear someone say, "I'll never look like that, I'm not talented enough." So, why would you look at a painting and think you're not creative enough to do something similar because of "talent"? We are constantly interpreting the visual world. We even make up pictures in our brains while we're sleeping because we just can't get enough of it! Each of us has the visual understanding needed to create art. What some of us need is a process that allows us to explore our creativity freely. Self-Kindness Since the idea of "natural talent" is silly, the frst thing you should do to explore your creativity is to be gentle with yourself. If you think too much about your goals, you will become less natural in your process. If you are honest with your process, you won't have time to tell yourself your creation looks bad. If you are a human, being gentle with yourself will be a constant struggle, but you "ofcially" have permission to go easy on yourself while you are exploring your creative mind — so, step one is to practice self-kindness. Your second step is to choose a daily process for exploring your creativity. It is best to choose a process that allows you to be a keen observer of the world frst and a creator of things second. One example of a daily process is a sketch journal. It's a great way of paying more attention to what you are seeing rather than what you are creating. No one else will see your journal so you can go nuts! Just record what you see and have fun; make pictures you love and drawings your mother- in-law won't approve of. Just be sure that you are paying more attention to the visual source than you are the fnal outcome. And remember, since it's a process, consistency is key. Don't get too busy with the real life of kids and/ or the dog so as to skip your daily sketch journal. Like-minded People Finally, remember the person you were admiring at the gym? You saw them there because being in a community of like-minded people helps us develop the drive to "keep at it." Workshops, classes and drawing groups are all fantastic ways to further our creative insight while mixing things up. Don't be shy about being a beginner in a group of artists; we all start somewhere and you'll beneft from everyone else's years of practice and mistakes just by being around them. No matter the person you are or what kind of experience you have, you can use visual art to explore your creativity. Just remember to be gentle with yourself and your expectations, fnd a process you love and embrace it, and seek out a community to provide you with support. Now, get out there and make some art. If your search is authentic, your images will be too. Since the idea of "natural talent" is silly, the frst thing you should do to explore your creativity is to be gentle with yourself. Andy Braitman is a Charlotte-based artist and art teacher. You can learn more about him at BALLANTYNE MAGAZINE 75 SPRING 2016

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