When I used to think about someone who sews, a seamstress or a pattern maker, I rarely equated this practice as art. But now, when I think of it, at its core, sewing is creating something functional, wearable or creative from a two dimensional piece of cloth. It is the epitome of creating something from nothing. That certainly sounds like art to me. In this post I will share my journey with sewing, sewing as art and what sewing taught me about art.
I grew up in a family who re-used, re-made and recycled (although we never called it that) just about everything. This gift came from my mom who was taught by her mom. At the age of five, my mother taught me to sew by hand and soon after on an old treadle singer sewing machine. As my treasure trove of creations grew, so did my skill and my love of this practice. It was almost like a creative high; discovering I could wear what I designed and created.
Sewing was acceptable but pursuing my love of art was not. One had a practical money saving purpose and the other was selfish and senseless. I was often conflicted with this as I loved both. I was drawn to the intersection of sewing and art in the form of fashion design and makeup artistry.
Thread and Paint are Related?
I would never have expected that my love of sewing would become the training ground for my future art practice. When you grow up in an environment where one is good and the other is “worldly”, it is hard to reconcile these opposing views.
The key that both practices had was a type of rebirth; creating something new from something mundane. And my love for both of them never stopped growing.
First Lesson – I Learned to be Patience With Myself
When I first started out sewing, I expected to know what I was doing immediately. I also figured I should have a creation that looked exactly like the one on the outside of the pattern package.
Many hours were spent scolding the singer sewing machine; demanding that it bend to my every demand. Stitches ripped out, projects abandoned, tears shed. The faster I went, the more mistakes I made.
I couldn’t abandon sewing, so my process had to be adapted.
I began to choose projects that were attainable instead of shooting for the stars.
Instead of saying, “I should be able to achieve this level of skill already” (notice the inner critic ;), I would say, “what project can I start that I know I will love and be successful at?” I started to set the bar for success a little lower.
Why was learning patience important?
If I was to continue with sewing with joy, I couldn’t make demands so high on myself. And I couldn’t abandon my love for sewing; the seed of creativity that had been planted as a young child. Sewing was a part of my being, woven into the tapestry of my soul. I also needed to enjoy the process, the journey not just the destination.
What does this mean for you?
- You can be gentle with yourself – allow yourself to make mistakes and ask what you can learn from them
- patience gives your creativity room to breath
- patience gives your brain time to process
- practicing patience challenges the inner critic’s lies about the “shoulds” you place on yourself
You are created with special unique gifts and callings that have been placed on your life from a very early age. To be patient with yourself is to give yourself room to grow, make mistakes, learn from them and move into new territory.
Second Lesson – I Made My Own Rules
I started to push back on the “rules” that I had adopted in my head. This was another way to challenge the inner critic’s lies. Here are some of the rules I had to abandon.
- creating art just for the sake of the process or keeping art for oneself is selfish
- sewing is not art
- I am not an artist because I gave up on drawing
- makeup artistry is not art or a real job
- fashion is frivolous
People made up these rules and gave them hierarchies that do not exist. There was no rule book or mandate I had to follow but I trusted these lies because someone else had said them (with more confidence than me which made them true). It doesn’t matter where these rules came from, the important key was that I had to challenge them.
Why was this important?
If you follow other people’s rules, you do not step into your true calling. You will be a non practicing artist, as I was, trapped and paralyzed by lies; someone else’s adopted as my own.
What does this mean for you?
Make your own rules. Call yourself an artist, even if it is just with yourself at first. Say it out loud with confidence. “I am an artist!”
- write out the negative beliefs or “rules” about your art/creative practice that you have been hanging onto and are holding you back
- imagine you are talking to a friend. Write out what you would say to encourage them and challenge each lie
- translate each lie into an affirming statement
Here’s an example:
The inner critic lie: Makeup artistry is not a real job.
Affirming Truth: Makeup artistry is my job because I have pursued it, I love it and I am good at it.
For the step by step blueprint for turning your inner critic’s lies into affirmations, check out my FREE workbook, “How to Make Over Your Inner Critic: Recognize Fear & Step Into Confidence”
Third Lesson – I had to find my people
I had to stop believing the lies that certain people were telling me (even if it was indirectly). At thirty two, I decided to pursue my dream of becoming a makeup artist. It was so freeing and exciting to embrace something I had loved since I was a child.
If the people you have surrounded yourself with continually challenge your art practice, you need to find new people.
Just as I found peer support among the sewing community and makeup community, I also had to find support in the painting and design community.
Why is this important?
As an artist, you need support. Whether you realize it or not, you belong to a community of other artists who have probably experienced much of what you have. These peers know what it is like to step out of the “shoulds” and step into their calling.
What does this mean for you?
Reach out to others, take risks and become part of a community.
- join groups on Facebook, Instagram or through online and in person classes
- share goals, struggles and wins to increase support
- learn how other artists have tackled their inner critic
I hope these lessons have inspired you to take steps towards doing more of what you love and letting the inner critic lose it’s grip. If you want to learn more about how to become a fearless and accomplished artist who shows up and shares your work with the world, here’s a look into my proven process that gives you the step by step tools to challenge and replace your inner critic once and for all.
I would love to hear from you and your journey. Drop me a line in the comments about what is important for you to grow into as an artist. I am also opening up some one on one sessions for a limited time.
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