Art is a Gift You Give Yourself

 

For many people, making art is self-expression, a way to share with others how you see the world. It’s fun and colorful, and seeing the finished product is extremely satisfying.

 

But art is also a safe haven - A time to spend with yourself, to understand yourself better. It’s a way to heal, to think, and to be given a second chance.

I’ve always had two great loves: art and travel. I was young when my mother turned me on to making, knowing that if she didn’t direct my energies in the right way, I would ruin her house with my mischievous ways. Always making something, always using too much paper, I grew up loving art and eventually made my way to university, where I studied costume design.

But travel was my other dream, and one I knew I would love, if I could just have a chance. So, after university, I traded in my art supplies for a plane ticket to Asia. I began teaching English there and thoroughly enjoyed my new life. I thought I could do without making, since I had gotten “burnt out,” on designing costumes. I felt my creativity had all but dried up.

I dabbled here and there, teaching myself guitar, picked up knitting again, even tried running. But after living in South Korea for a few years, with no real creative progress, I was beginning to feel empty. I didn’t have much to show for a day’s work.  I had restless energy and my extra hobbies just weren’t cutting it.


After 5 years of not creating, I decided to give art another try. At first, I attempted watercolor and colored pencils, and the results were horrendous! (If you’re in this stage and rusty with your art skills, have patience with yourself. It will get better, I promise!)

In my traveling and “breaking up” with art a few years ago, I realized something. That thing that you can’t help doing every day? That’s your passion, and you should never let it go.

What have you put on hold? Did you give up your art for something more pressing? Maybe like me, you wanted to travel. Or you wanted to try another hobby. Maybe you needed to focus on a career that you knew would pay the bills. Maybe you’ve been raising a family. “Later…” you’re always telling yourself.  “I’ll do it another time.”

“When I have time…”
“When I have more inspiration…”
“When I have the right tools…”
“When my kids are grown up…”
We can all find a million excuses. 

But if you’re at a point where you feel that you’re floundering and you need a boost, you need to heal, or you need time for yourself to figure out life…

I encourage you to pick up your nearest pencil, marker, needle, loom, or brush and get to work. You can find the time, I promise. I work a full-time job, and every spare moment is spent at my desk, creating. This is my self-expression, my sanctuary, and my passion, and I will never give it up again.

To see more of Leigh's work visit her website or her Instagram.

SpotlightGrace Gulley