When I told my journaling class last night that we were going to explore our unique artistry, I was met with blank stares. And then the inevitable protest, “but I’m not an artist.” “Me either,” someone else chimed in. But I was ready for this pushback, for this denial of any association with the word “artist”. I quickly pulled out my copy of Sarah Ban Breathnach’s Simple Abundance: A Day Book of Comfort and Joy, and began reading from the entry for February 8 entitled, “You Are an Artist”:
“Each of us is an artist. An artist is merely someone with good listening skills who accesses the creative energy of the Universe to bring forth something on the material plane that wasn’t here before….So it is with a creating an authentic life. With every choice, every day, you are creating a unique work of art. Something that only you can do. Something beautiful and ephemeral. The reason you were born was to leave your own indelible mark on your personal world. This is your authenticity.”
So we start with the premise that we are all artists. You may not be a painter or a poet, but you are most certainly an artist of your own authentic existence. There is something you are here to do as only you can do it. What is that thing? What kind of artist are you? What is unique about you? What artistry are you being called to bring forth in the world? How will you stepping into your authentic existence serve others?
Take out your journal and a pen and start on a clean page. In the center, write “I am an artist of…” and draw a circle around it. We are going to do a clustering exercise with this phrase as a starting point. A cluster is simply a mind map in which we choose a word or phrase for the center bubble and free associate out from there. Let your thoughts generate other thoughts in the form of a single words or short phrases. Circle each one and connect it with a line to the thought before it. If you think of something entirely new that doesn’t relate back to the previous thought, go back to the center bubble and connect the new idea up with where you originally started. Continue to build outward from there. Keep going for 5-7 minutes exploring what kind of artist you believe yourself to be. Don’t hold back! Just let your mind free associate and explore at this stage. Clustering is a fantastic way to gather information quickly and to engage both hemispheres of the brain with it’s non-linear style. You may be surprised by where your thoughts take you!
Once you have completed your cluster, see if you can narrow down what kind of artist you are into one word or a short phrase. The more clear you can get on your unique brand of artistry, the better you will be able to direct your energy towards what really matters. “I am an artist of….” How do you fill in that blank with a word or phrase that captures your authentic desires, interests and abilities? Let your unique artistry be BIG, let it be a container large enough to hold all of what it is you believe you are here to do.
Once you have an idea of where your unique artistry lies, have a dialogue with your artist self on the page and ask he/she what it is that you are here to bring forth into the world. What innovation or new understanding will your unique point of view bring to your art? Refer back to this exercise for a general discussion of how journaling dialogues work before you begin if you need a review. Continue your conversation with your artist self for 20-25 minutes or until you feel like the dialogue has come to a natural conclusion. Thank your artist self for the information he/she has given you.
Review your conversation. Where can you take inspired action now in order to begin bringing YOUR art into the world? Look for the small, baby steps. That’s always a good place to begin. Remember, we are talking about you being an artist of your authentic existence. Any step you take towards a fuller expression of your authentic self is a move in the right direction and a display of your unique artistry.
Everyone in class found this exercise to be surprisingly empowering and an excellent way to tap into our authentic creative longings. There is something about having a conversation with your artist self that gives you permission to pursue something outside of the box, something new, innovative and uniquely yours. Because that’s what artists do, right? Now go make YOUR art!