As far as I can remember back in my childhood days, my fascination with drawing was very strong that I’d rather draw than do my homework. I remember the days when I had to study for my quarterly examinations, but instead I spent more time doodling and drawing images. Every time my mother would check on me to see how my studying is going, I would immediately hide my drawings under my pillow. It’s not that I was not allowed to draw at home because my parents were very supportive of my love for drawing. They even provided me with art supplies that I wanted and they knew I would enjoy as well as encouraged me to join art clubs. I just did not want my parents to think that my love for drawing is a distraction because I prefer them over other activities, most especially from school-related tasks.
Aside from drawing, I remember how much I enjoyed writing stories and drawing illustrations for my stories. Drawing and writing, coupled with endless flow of ideas and imagination has been a huge part of my childhood. I was not scared of how others will perceive my drawings and stories. Of course, apart from my feelings of accomplishment, I also received positive feedback and encouragement most especially from family and friends. Most of them even thought that I would end up as a professional writer and artist. However, as time goes by and as I was growing up, the time and effort I have dedicated to drawing and writing dwindled unless it was part of a school requirement. Was it because my interest in drawing and writing decreased, or did I just have other things that I wanted to explore and discover?
Transition from high school to college brought me some challenges. I was in the middle of trying to figure out what I wanted to do and what I wanted to be after college. I have always wanted to major in Fine Arts and I almost took Fine Arts in college but my family thought it was not a practical choice for a college degree, career-wise. At the last minute, as I was filling out college applications, I had to think of a more viable degree and so I ended up with Psychology. Hence, I began my journey to self-discovery. I wrote several poems, wrote a few songs, as well as made several sketches and drawings about how I really felt during those times. It was during those times when I realized how I am brought to my own world, like my own space-time continuum, whenever I am writing a poem or a song as well as drawing. They became my escape from feelings of fear, anxiety and self-doubt. I did not regret majoring in Psychology and following the advice of my parents but from time to time I still think of the what-if’s and what-could-have-been’s.
After college, even though I am able to apply my creativity at my job as an early childhood teacher, I have not drawn or written anything just for my self. Malchiodi reminded me of how some aspects of our lives can drive us away from the benefits of creative expression — may it be through drawing, writing, sculpting, collaging, making music, etc. I was struck by the truth that we tend to push creative expression aside or delay the opportunity to do so because we kept waiting for the right time. I realized that there is no such thing as the right time when it comes to creative expression, in revealing our souls, as well as communicating messages that words cannot fully express. Furthermore, I was also reminded that any place can be one’s sanctuary for creative expression, that I can bring my personal art studio with me anywhere I ago.
Life is full of elements that capture too much of my attention while allowing my self to fail at recognizing the little yet important things around me. It seems to me that a lot of the things that I usually miss to notice are the things that are worth of my appreciation. This is how I have been feeling lately about creating and creative expression. One of the reasons why I have been hesitant to create an artwork or write a song is probably because of my fear of being criticized not just by others but by my self. I am hindered by the idea of what art should be and look like or what music should sound like based on works and creations that are mostly recognized and highly revered. Instead of relying on the superficial meaning that I have given arts and its products, I should look at the deeper purpose of arts and what the process of creating can bring me. I have been my own worst critic. Most of it I can attribute to my critical personality. However, I was then again reminded by Malchiodi’s book that criticism is not entirely detrimental to creative expression, rather I can use its advantages to benefit me during creative process and exploration — to understand the creative process and eventually develop a deep relationship with creative expression.
Childlike innocence — the first chapters of Malchiodi’s book reminded me of this characteristic. In the process of using art and creative expression in self-healing, -expression, -discovery, even in health and well-being, I just want to go back to my childhood days when I did not possess any prejudices and felt no inhibitions. It is during such state, I believe, where my imagination was at its best as well as when I was able to reap the most benefits from creative thoughts and expressions. I did not even have any idea what creativity is, I just created.
Touched by the messages of art and its relationship to my soul, I believe that I should refrain from waiting for the right time to allow myself to reap the benefits from using creative expressions once again. I have used it before without being fully aware of its advantages. Now that I know and understand how it will benefit me and my entire well-being, I must no longer ignore it or even say no to my need to create, draw, write, play music or express myself aside from speaking the messages that my heart, mind, and soul desires to communicate. I must turn away from my fear, anxiety and self-doubt when it comes to creative expression. Everything that I created and will create are expressions of my self, parts of my self, therefore embodies who I am in mind, heart, and soul.
Malchiodi, C.A., (2002). The Soul’s Palette. Boston, MA: Shambala Publications Inc.