I've met many people on my journey as an artist, who have said things to me like: "I wish I could do what you do", or "Oh no, I can't draw, I'm hopeless!"
Further conversation would lead down an increasingly familiar path; someone had told them they were no good when they were younger, they'd not had the support or encouragement to follow their dreams (even for fun or as a hobby never mind as an actual career choice).
Others had just grown up, family life and demanding jobs taking up most of their time until slowly, and without realising, they had simply stopped making art.
I always try and encourage people to give it a try, to carve out a little space to have a go, but I'm often met with a wistful gaze, a shrug of the shoulders and a resigned smile, or a definite No.
I kind of understand, a resolute "No" often hides low confidence or zero self belief. Hadn't I been the same, back as a naive eighteen year old college student, when my art tutor had told me that I was never going to make it as an artist?
Hadn't I gone home that day, flattened by her words, shocked and unable to compute what to do with my life? Didn't I go into my room that evening, and slowly put all my things away in a cupboard, the grief of realising I was no good - never would be - making the idea of touching my paints and drawing things again practically impossible? And when anyone asked if I'd painted anything recently, didn't I say No?
All of those things.
And it took a few years before I felt the courage to venture into trying again.
Because of that comment, I made different choices in life, I spent the next six years working in an office for the NHS, in the salaries office no less (my maths grades left a lot to be desired, and it was my least favourite subject at school). I used to get feelings of nausea on a Sunday evening at the thought of Monday morning, yet I didn't have the courage to leave, I tolerated the long, slow hours because it paid a good wage which allowed me to buy nice clothes, and a car.
I lived for the weekends but that's no way to live a life. I look back now and feel sad for my younger self, sorry that she didn't understand that those comments were just somebody else's opinion, that didn't make them right or wrong and that I still had a right to try and follow my passion even if somebody else disagreed. I wonder now how many other people have had similar experiences, at the hands of someone we look up to and respect? I'm learning there are many of us.
Some of us manage to find our way back, the passion and need to create finally resurfacing somewhere down the line, as it eventually did for me. I eventually left that office job and went to University in Devon, eventually graduating as an interior designer. I went on to run my own creative businesses for the next 19 years - the first one as a sign writer, the second: an artist.
For others though, the barriers are just sometimes too difficult to overcome. Pain, hurt, fear and shame all block the path to trying again, and this is the reason that I created this course.
I wanted to create a toolkit for people who wanted to make art a part of their lives again but were too afraid or stuck; to teach them that they can and to share the skills I use myself to this day when I'm stalled by self doubt, or fear, to enable them to do so.
Creative Confidence is designed as a self paced Workshop which you can access from anywhere in the world, it's a short course with gentle guidance and journal style prompts with spaces to write.
In the couple of days since it's been launched, I've had some really wonderful feedback from people:
"Thank you - you've inspired me to get my sketch book out again". CE
"Thank you Julia, what a fabulous course". AH
"Well written, it's really making me think" BK
For me to teach what took me many years to learn, to help people overcome their fears and negative beliefs, brings me a lot of pleasure. To know that this may have helped just one person would have been brilliant, but it's reaching and helping more people than I could have imagined.
This isn't about turning your life on its head, ditching your job and responsibilities to become a full time artist. It's about allowing yourself the space within your current circumstances to explore the possibilities of what might happen, to make space in your busy life for creating, to pursue your curiosity, to cultivate confidence and to find the courage to try making art again.
The Workshop is available now, and is an ongoing course which you can access when you like. Once signed up you have lifetime access as long as the course is live.
If this sounds like something you would be interested in, you can find out more about my Workshop here.