I can’t draw

A common enough declaration from an adult [young or older] when asked to make some marks on paper. In Therapeutic Life Story, we engage with people through playful activities, using a roll of paper [wallpaper] as the means.

I can't draw
A stick figure speaks

It can often be a challenge to motivate older children or teenagers to start the process, perhaps because of a recollection from a teacher [or parent] who may have said: ‘You can’t draw!’ This then becomes their fixed narrative, the belief that art is for artists and there is no point in trying.

That’s Okay, and no one is going to force anyone into doing something. But this is not a matter of compelling. It is about inviting, of making the opportunity to have a go. To experiment, to take a risk, to let loose.

Here’s what Natalie Rogers has to say: ‘Some people are eager to use the materials; others say, ‘I can’t draw’ or ‘I’m not a creative person’ or ‘I’ve got two left feet and can’t dance’. Their fear of needing to perform or create a nice product is evident.

Child drawing the hand
Drawing around the hand

‘Briefly, I reassure them that it is not a test of their creativity, or drawing or dancing ability, but a method of self-discovery. Those who are fearful usually lose that sense if they decide to take the risk and try some form of art expression’.

And as the facilitator, that’s all that’s needed. Express yourself. Make that first mark. The rest will follow, will flow as water in a river.

Author: john pitt


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