Dispelling the “I can’t do it” Myths of Creativity

This article was written by Michelle Brown

It is so hard to find that extra time in the day to fit in a little crafting and creativity into our lives. By reviewing where our time goes during the day and making a determined effort to have time to practice and learn new skills, while getting together the materials we need, we are able to open up the opportunity for us to be creative.mixed_media_art_collage

I have been creating cards and paintings and mixed media creations for many years; from when I was in High School, through studying at university, working full time, then having kids and working full time.  Because mixed media arts and papercrafts are my passion, I will find time and space to create, fitting it in as and when I can.

I am always very interested when I find others who are amazed at what I make, and by their excuses as to why they could never make such nice things. It seems to boil down to one of three reasons (or a combination of all three):
1. I don’t have enough time
2. I don’t have the talent / skills / know-how
3. I don’t have the equipment or materials

I see these are the three “I can’t do it” Myths of Creativity. Let’s look at each one in detail.

Don’t have enough time
While working and children and keeping a house does take up a lot of time, it is important to understand where our time goes. Every person on this planet has 24 hours in a day and seven days in a week. It is how we choose to use our time which determines if we have enough time for creative pursuits.

If you are one of those people who doesn’t know where your time goes, it may be time to do a “time audit”; keeping a written record of the tasks you do through a normal week. Even a simple breakdown into categories of Kids, Household, My time, Working, Computer, Garden, Television will help you to see where your time goes. At the end of the week, summarise where the time goes each day.

Then it’s time for some real thinking. Are you surprised as to where your time goes? Are you seeing proportionate results for your effort? Now you can take stock and consider if how you are spending your time is in line with your goals and values.

For me to fit in my crafting, I concentrate my housework into a limited number of hours in a week; what gets done, gets done, what doesn’t will either get delegated or left for next week. Then I schedule in time to create. At times it has only been for half an hour (an hour at the most) in the evenings, after the children are in bed (or at least playing in their rooms). By planning my crafting activities (Christmas comes around at the same time each year) and allowing enough time, I can get these projects done by spending a little time, most days, completing each project bit by bit.

Don’t have the skills
Wanting to create is enough to get started; developing the skills will happen in line with the creative process. Especially with the Internet these days, we all have access to so many different techniques and other artists, that reading up on the basics is enough to get you going. Then there are courses and classes with your local stores or crafting groups. All of the people I have met across many crafts are always happy to share what they know.

More advanced skills will be developed as you get more practice in while you are creating. Many techniques are dependent on the latest crafting fashions and these can be developed the same way as your basic skills. And these are the more tangible skills.

The intangible skills of colour mixing and knowing just where to place things can also be developed through practice and consciously looking at he work of others. By consciously, I mean that when you think “oh that’s nice” then begin to ask yourself why – it is the colours, the techniques used, the placement of embellishments? Becoming more analytical will built your skills.

My talents are mostly developed through practice and seeing other people’s work, with a few classes thrown in. I tend to stick to safe colour combinations. For collages I follow the steps I have outlined in other articles. Then the placement of images and embellishments are done until it feels “right”.

Don’t have equipment or materials
As we have seen across the Mixed Media Arts site, there are many things that we already have around the house or borrowed from the children that can be used to start creating. Card form cereal boxed, glue sticks or sticky tape, basic paints, pens and note paper – if you don’t have these hidden somewhere, a trip to the local variety shop will help get you started. Remember that you don’t need every colour or size or shape to begin with. Stick to some basic colours and multi purpose stamps and inks. You will find that your artistic tastes will change as you create more artwork and learn different techniques. Your materials and equipment collection will expand as opportunity presents itself.

I have had many years to collect my craft supplies. I have things stuffed into many corners but I just don’t use them. Unless I go through the drawers on a regular basis, then I forget what I have. So not having lots of supplies is not the only aspect that will keep you from crafting.

Creativity is a skill like any other that needs time doing it to get better at it. Finding the time to spend creating is where the challenge is in our modern busy lives. By being aware of where we spend our time we can make decisions about how we use it and if crafting is a priority for you, the time slots will present themselves. All the wishful thinking that you had more skills or time or materials will only help you if you use it as motivation to change what you were doing yesterday, and try something different today – that is the only way to create lasting change in your life.

So get creating!



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  1. Linda Dolan says:

    I spent (wasted?) the first 55 years of my life thinking I wasn’t creative. Then I decided I didn’t care, I just wanted to play. Now I am retired and have time to try a whole range of techniques and am having a LOT of fun. Your website is fantastic. Please continue to show how different techniques and effects.

  2. Gail Dorfling says:

    I agree with Linda. I am having fun fun fun! Keep the techniques and ideas flowing.

  3. Debra Mack says:

    Your site is so inspirational…I agree time needs stolen from the day to be creative….I have an idea,,,just need to make the vision come to life..with puzzle pieces. A day not being creative is like lost …you just can’t backup time. have a Sew Peaceful Day. FLO

  4. CarolineAU says:

    I soooo agree with this! I have been a mother, a student and working, all at the same time, so I know how much I relied on my organisational skills to fit everything in. I suspect this may the key to much of the negativity about the three myths above – it requires taking charge of your life, instead of your life taking charge of you.
    There is no such thing as an instant expert, and as most of us were told at school, we need to practice, practice, and practice before we have a certain proficiency at anything, let alone what can be described as talent. But no one ever said we should not have fun when we practice, and this is what makes mixed media such a rewarding and enriching experience!
    I do my craft work in the evenings in front of the TV – thats my “me” time – and if I can grab a few extra minutes here and there during the day, thats a bonus. And there is nothing like getting gluey, sticky and messy for putting some perspective and fun back into life!

  5. Meredith in Canada says:

    I’ve taught introductory level, traditional quilting for 30 years and last year launched into the Art Quilt world. This has been such a positive experience for me and has truly rejuvenated my creative side and given me permission to play. I very much appreciated your insights into why some people feel they are not creative.

  6. Patricia Mortensen says:

    I agree about the ‘time’ thing. When I was younger and certainly busier with children and family demands I actually produced more. Now I am semi retired and doing a different kind of art work to that in the past, and can more or less make what time I want I find I procrastinate. I thought it was because I’m doubting my ability in new areas but in fact when I do launch into it I realise I was mulling stuff over all the time and sort of planning or imagining. Sometimes I start and end up doing something completly different but I do realise as with the ariticle about ‘Dispelling the Myth etc’ that our ‘minds’ are where it is all at. Being on purpose and in the flow so to say. I have certainly learnt that over the years. This is such a good website.Cheers Patricia Mortensen, New Zealand

  7. Vicki Rearley says:

    I am startinf on a project and I am havingtrouble cut outs and leftover paper from other project to stick to my cardstocj and my small canvas. My trouble is the paper seems to curl up and does not want to adhere to my pr0ject. I am wanting to do the mixed media , but how do I adhere the cut paper pieces to the project without it not sticking and curling up. I have used collage glue and gesso without any luck. any help would be so helpful Thanks and many Hugs!!!!! Vicki

  8. MMA_Team says:

    Vicky – how annoying!

    Check all surfaces are clean. If you are planning on varnishing over everything, you can try to add glue over the paper so that both sides are wet to reduce curl.

    You could also try PVA glue or gel medium – they tend to stick most things.

    If you are using gloss paper, rough up the back with fine sandpaper to help it stick.

    Let us know how you go!

  9. andrea says:

    I have been the self-inflicted victim of “never enough time” … I believe it was one of my grad-school professors who stated that Judy Chicago had the best advice… “just draw (create) a little bit every day.”

    I learned when I was a single mother for a few years before marrying my now terrific husband that, I was better, the kids were better, the house, work, EVERYTHING was BETTER, when I was happy. And my happiness meant that I needed to make some kind of art everyday.

    I still find that I am spending too much time… doing just pure graphic design and not enough hands on art, but it is a life-long journey to find balance to find a bit of happiness everyday.

    Thank you for sending out this reminder to have an “I can” attitude!

  10. Vicki Rearley says:

    Thnks for the information on the gel meduim and the pva glue. I am having better luck the second time around and my projects are turning out much better. The gel med seems to work best for glueing my paper on my cardstock and canvases. Thanks for taking the time out to answer my question!!! Hugs Vicki R.

  11. Nasr says:

    Thank you for this article. I created a new blog from blogger to start a new creative year, and share my art with everyone, and especially to have friends (s) who love Mixed Media Art.Bisous

    Here is the link: http://mixedmediapainting.blogspot.com/
    Do not hesitate to say hello.

  12. Saideh says:

    Thanks a lot for your kindness to want to share your thoughts with us 🙂 I agree with you, every thing is a matter of practicing, searching, and priorities i our lives… Im working and getting inspired of this contact net… and Im very happy about that… My skills get better with time, and Im recognizing which sort of material tings I need to have, and I hopefully will find them at a art shop…
    Thanks again to inspire me 🙂


  1. […] the skills that we want or that we don’t have the paints or paper or latest gadgets. Over at Mixed Media Arts we are doing our best to dispel those “I can’t do it” myths of creativity. […]

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