#OutrageousOctober: Start Your Art

30 Oct

Sometimes the fall semester feels like a steep uphill climb with boulders tumbling down your trail every five minutes. A times like those, one bad exam grade, a ridiculous person on TV, or even an unexpected mud puddle soaking your shoes can feel like the end of the world. Sometimes we have to put on a fresh pair of socks and step outside our comfort zone.

This Outrageous October, a friend and I challenged ourselves to take art into our own hands.

It started a few months ago when I saw a Facebook post from a friend who lives in San Diego. She said that she was getting worn out from all the homework with no time to play. She wanted to get in touch with her creativity again, but she wasn’t sure how. I felt her pain and was moved by her words. This post gave me the courage to ask if I could be her creativity coach.

The art classes I’ve taken have enhanced my life so much. I’ve always wanted to show my friends the things I’ve learned so they can enjoy it too, but I’ve never put the time in until now. This felt like an outrageous step forward because no one had given me the authority to take on such a role. I didn’t have any certificates or qualifications to give me permission, only the authenticity of my friendship and the contents of my art portfolio.

I undertook my own professional development on something that has been stewing in my mind throughout my academic career. This was the beginning of my transformation from a senior in Psychology to an applicant for an Art Therapy graduate program.

Within a month I received a beautiful response from my friend. She had completed the exercises I had written for her and produced a series of daring drawings and paintings. The letter she wrote in response was a glowing one. She had pulled herself out of a slump and into her studio with just an email to motivate her. We were proud of ourselves, proud of each other, and both on our way to a new version of ourselves.

Accessing Your Creativity

Art can be scary. We avoid it easily by saying “I’m not creative” and leaving it at that. But art is all around us, it’s a part of all of us and it belongs to you. Every culture on the planet makes some kind of art, even if it’s just making a boat look a little bit fancy, or decorating cattle. You can make your notes look fancy, you can decorate your dorm room, or sit at a picnic and make a pile of pebbles on the table. That’s where art starts.

I realized that anyone can begin their own journey to the studio of their hearts, but that we have to make time and space for it to exist. This can be hard even for experienced artists and nearly impossible for those with no experience and multiple roles to play in their lives. At first it feels like one of those dreams where you’re naked in public, but over time, it clothes you in shining armor that reflects who you are. Here are three easy steps you can use to get your own art started.

Step 1: Make Time and Space

Making an art station is an important part of practice. This can be as simple as clearing off part of your desk for a sketchbook and some pencils. All you need is an available surface where you can program yourself to get into a creative mode just by sitting down. After spending just 5 minutes here every day, you can expand your artistic comfort zone.

Step 2: Dive in

The hardest part is getting started. These three exercises are designed to silence the little perfectionist in the back of our brains and loosen up your artistic muscles. Try one on for size during a 5-minute session and see where it takes you.

The Squiggle Game


Make a squiggle. Turn that squiggle into a face or creature. Repeat. You can even fill up an entire page with squiggles first before finding your funky faces.

Stick portraits


Think of a friend, a family member, a crush or a celebrity and draw a stick figure portrait of them. You can even do a daily stick figure diary that chronicles your moods and life events.

Spatter Analysis


Take a blank page and some ink or paint. Throw the ink or paint on the page using a paintbrush or just dump it directly from the container. Find interesting shapes and make them into something new. You can decorate them, make them into a surreal landscape or just keep adding paint until you feel like you’ve made a fun mess.

Step 3: Share

Image result for social media icons

The next step is to wear your art on your sleeves. It can be terrifying to put yourself out there since we live in an internet full of trolls. Anyone can be a critic, but it takes real courage to be a creator. Even the most random doodle can serve as an inspiration to those around you. Try putting yourself out there on Tumblr or Facebook. Even just sharing with a friend can help build confidence and make inspiration contagious.


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