Two Christmases ago, I received a gift that changed my life. Whilst it may seem quite surprising, no, I didn’t ask for this gift in my letter to Santa. And, it definitely was not a gift I was lusting after. It was an ordinary A3 artist’s book. Ordinary and extraordinary all at once. It opened the door to embracing a long-forgotten part of me. A part who had the courage to gingerly choose to step out into the light to see if it was safe to play again.
Let me introduce the part of me I like to call Frankii. Frankii is the pseudonym for my inner artist. Upon reflection, it’s apparent that I had kept ‘her’ securely locked away as a silly little fantastical aspect of me. That part of me that likes to use words like ‘fantasmagorical’ in a sentence (see, I just did it!).
Frankii’s reluctant emergence into the world began after being affronted by a very large piece of paper as I opened that ordinary A3 art book given to me by my partner Tim two Christmases ago. The look of terror on my face made Tim laugh, a lot. I swiftly closed that blank page of terror and tucked it away, in the hope that we would never speak of it again. Of course that was not going to happen, was it?
The somewhat ridiculous terror of the blank page surprised me more than would be considered ‘normal’ in the circumstances. It was just a piece of paper. Yet from where I was standing, that big, blank, unblemished space was scary. Both of us knowing that scary places hold the most treasure, Tim thought, with good humour, that it would be great fun if I explored those dark spaces a little more deeply, so off we went to art class. What followed was a journey through the fields of self-judgment, the battleground of perfectionism and personal inquiries as to why I viewed the creative part of life from such a limiting place.
The experience opened up too much to mention here, but a particular highlight for me came in the remembering of art class in early high school. I was around 12 years old, and my art teacher praised my work. It was an abstract work of a woman’s face I had painted on a large canvas. I was really proud of it too.
At the end of the year, my teacher encouraged me to sign up for art the following year to continue exploring my talents. Yet in those days being an artist was not the career move of parental choice. Fast forward to today and for a few reasons, I realised I had judged that being an artist, or being silly and fantastical was a ‘bad’ thing. So, of course, what else would I do but carve out my career path in the land of sensible … as a lawyer. A socially acceptable career choice, that just so happened to be the exact opposite of fantastical.
Sometimes we choose to live a life that others might say is appropriate, correct, or right. We make those choices because, in our thinking minds, we believe we will be accepted, safe and loved. But when we make other people’s choices, those choices ultimately do not feel aligned with us. We know something is ‘off’ and we want that feeling to go away. It’s at that point we can distract ourselves to get ‘out of our minds’ often by unsustainable means. I sure did.
Playing with blank pieces of paper and some ink has been the best gift ever. It taught me how to be ‘out of my mind’ or mind-less in a more sustainable way. I am embracing creativity in ways I’d not considered, and with that came a great sense of freedom and contentment which has transformed every area of my life. Using my experiences, I am now teaching others how they can find this sense of peace and freedom too. It comes from simply understanding that you can truly make any choice you please without judgement. It takes courage, but it is a truly freeing place to be.
For those of you interested in learning more, here are some links to workshops I am conducting from early next year, either from the comfort of your own home or in person (limited numbers) right here on the Sunshine Coast. Let’s create some fun, peace and freedom together.
Frankii is the pseudonym for Virginia Robin’s inner artist whose reluctant emergence into the art world happened after finding a need to overcome a somewhat ridiculous terror of blank spaces.
Ink and watercolour are Frankii’s favourite mediums right now. She is influenced by the beauty and simplicity of Japanese sumi-e, which celebrates the flow of the whole body in its mastery. She loves the willfulness flow of watercolour, which complements the ink’s black lines. Frankii hopes you feel her energy as you contemplate the work. This energy is, the energy of love.
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