The Artist In You

It’s been said there is an artist in all of us.

If you look around at what is produced as “art” you’ll soon realize that creativity comes in many forms.  What might be my taste isn’t another person’s cup of tea.

I’m continually blown away by new expressions of art.  Have you ever looked at something and said, “Why didn’t I think of that?”

One of my most recent discoveries is Brian Dettmer, who creates magnificent works of art out of old encyclopedias and dictionaries. I always wondered what we would do with all those Encyclopedia Brittannica volumes, now that we have Google!

Then along comes Brian, who starts repurposing old books by whittling away at them until he’s created an astonishing sculpture.  You can see his amazing art on a TED Talk called “Old Books Reborn as Intricate Art.”  Truly inspiring.

There are other forms of art that initially I would discard as amateur and unappealing, until I learn that people actually pay millions of dollars to acquire these pieces.  I have to say that I wouldn’t be one to fork over that kind of money, even if I had it, to own one of these pieces. My taste is my own.  As they say, “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.”

Lately I’ve run into a number of people who I would call “latent artists”.  They never considered themselves talented in an artistic way, so for most of their life they avoided even trying to create something. When at last they did pick up some art tools and make a first attempt, they discovered a hidden passion and a talent they never knew existed.  You probably all know someone who grabbed a paint brush in their 50s, 60s or later, and suddenly were creating lovely works of art. Even if they never sell a piece, they have discovered a meaningful way to express something inside that just needs to be let out.

In the past couple years we’ve seen the proliferation of colouring books for adults. Imagine that! At first I chuckled at it.  I thought this was a passing fad… one of those gag gift things that lasts for the Christmas season and then disappears.  When I began to see shelves and shelves of these colouring books it dawned on me that the pent-up need for artistic expression is wider spread than one could have ever imagined.

Many of these colouring books not only release the artist inside, they are being used as a way to nourish the spirit. Colouring books are now being offered as an antidote for anxiety.

Wellbeing truly is the profundity and the byproduct of art.

When I am engaged in producing a piece of art, whether painting, sculpture or building something, I am lost in the creative moment.  Focused with laser intensity on what is before me,  I’m unaware of how many hours have spun by.

Often I will notice an increase in body temperature and peel off a sweater or remove a blanket I may have placed over my legs when I began.  It’s like my creative energy

is stoking an inner fire.  All my cells, engaged in this burst of artistic expression.

Thriving is about balancing our energy.  Art is a wonderful way to liberate both sides of our brain, to engage our intelligence alongside our creativity.

“Accomplished artist” is a misnomer. Art is always a work in progress. Even those who complete what some would call masterpieces will always see an improvement they could have made, a ‘mistake’ that turned into a enlightened stroke of brilliance.

Artistic expression is one way humanity pushes forward, reinventing itself over and over, always pushing the leading edge out further.  Possibility proceeds productivity. First you dream, then you do.

Seize the opportunity to express yourself in an artistic way. Throw perfection out the window and experiment. Don’t give into the voice that says you have no talent. Inside is an artist longing to bring its creation into the light of day.

I promised you, in another post, that I would put some of my artwork up for you to see. The pieces you see here were created over the

past 25 years of my life.  The medium I use ranges: from oil to watercolour; from china painting to sculpture  (no photos posted here of the latter two); from my obvious passion for cats to a portrait of the child of one of my employees.

My art is done in fits and spurts. I tend to create when the urge hits, then abandon it for long periods of time. So my art isn’t an example of technique that becomes honed as it is practiced with diligence – my art is just what falls out of my hands when I’m in the creative mood, using whatever medium I happen to have at hand.

I hope some of you will be willing to share an example or two of your work and your story of how you started your artistic journey.

Let’s use this opportunity to inspire and be inspired.


Barbara Risto is the publisher of INSPIRED Senior Living, a magazine geared for the 55+ demographic; the Canadian best-selling author of “To Move Or Not to Move?” a helpful guide for seniors considering their residential options; the producer of two annual 55+ Lifestyle Shows; and a champion of the 55+ lifestyle, which she is now embracing.

For more information, check out “Who Is Barbara Risto

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