“I paint self portraits because I am so often alone, because I am the person
I know the best.”
- - Frida Kahlo
Do you remember that scene in "The Wizard of Oz" when Glinda the Good Witch encourages all the Munchkins to come out of hiding after Dorothy's house fell on the Wicked Witch? At first they're reluctant and wary sneaking out from behind trees with their eyes shifting back and forth. Some were asleep and needed to be roused. Others cracked open their locked doors, peering out to make sure the coast was clear.
That's kind of how I felt when I began to go back out into the world. I put on my mask and gloves, tucking a travel sized hand sanitizer in my purse. I wasn't quite sure how to act or what to expect. Signs at the front doors of businesses listed all the rules and restrictions. Grocery stores had arrows taped to the floors and plastic shields up at the registers. Some people were wearing masks, others were not. It was all very unsettling and confusing.
To say these past few months have been isolating for most of us is an understatement. We've spent way too much time alone or with a very small group of people.
Yet popping up online there have also been tons of distractions and suggestions for filling our time. New shows and films being released on streaming services. Free classes of all kinds to learn new languages, art techniques, writing, cooking, organizing, and so on.
I have to admit that for a little while I enjoyed some of the distractions. I definitely preferred binge watching anything over getting my fears triggered by the news. I signed up for lots of free courses and learned some new things. I even tried to master bread making and now have a new respect for bakers. But after a while all of those new opportunities became overwhelming. Too much, all at once.
I also discovered I needed to shift my business a bit. I was already delivering my content online through live workshops and webinars so I was ahead of the curve on how the technology worked. In the beginning I was helping my clients and friends understand Zoom conferencing and how to create slide decks on Google.
But I began to notice the people I was meeting with were overwhelmed just like me. They had also been overstimulated by the hundreds of offers out there. They had trouble making decisions about what to focus on. They also weren't sure how their products and services would fit in to this new paradigm or why anyone would buy from them because there was so much competition.
As a confidence coach for creative minds I realized my clients needed to focus on less to experience more. They needed opportunities for inspiration through true human connections and opportunities to collaborate as they explored their art, writing, and business design. And they needed to get back to basics.
In addition to my group coaching program that focuses on mindset, I recently launched two new specialized groups. One for the creative minded entrepreneur and one for artists. These groups are for learning, workshopping, critique and masterminding. They're a place to partner with like minded people and be inspired.
The common thread in all of my group is the need for clarity. Who is it we want to be, what do we really want to do and what we want to have?
In my Creative Minds Studio I offer an exercise in how to create an abstract self portrait. When I share this technique I like to begin with a writing exercise about what it is that you really want to attract in your future. It's a powerful journal prompt and when coupled with drawing the impact grows exponentially.
Creating a self portrait isn’t vain. It’s a useful exercise in exploring your inner feelings. You can record your private thoughts without fear of repercussion. The viewer will never know what you were actually thinking even if they can recognize your emotions.
At times your self portraits can leave you feeling naked (not literally unless you paint yourself in the nude), but your innermost feelings can remain in your brain. And, hopefully, you will feel the surge of freedom that getting into creative flow can offer.
A self portrait doesn’t even have to be a picture of you. Consider creating a collage of things that are important you you. Include words, pictures, and drawings that reflect your true feelings that day. Create a series of these collages for a year. See how your exploration of self changes.
Or try this simple self portrait drawing technique I use with many of my students. Grab a sheet of paper, some washable markers, a cup of water, a paintbrush, a black sharpie and a mirror.
Here are the steps:
1. Journal- set a timer for 15 minutes and create a list of a the things you'd like to be, do and have. Consider focusing on the next 6 months, 12 months or even five years from now. Dream Big!
2. Reflect - read over your list and really imagine those things coming true in your life. Feel the excitement, success, inspiration and love,
3. Draw - Closely look at one of your eyes in the mirror. Pick one color washable marker and draw the details of your eye using one continuous line (contour line drawing).
2. Now turn your paper a quarter turn. Look at your other eye and using a different washable color marker draw this one, again using a continuous line.
3. Turn your paper another quarter turn. Now look closely at your nose and draw it with a different color marker.
4. Turn your paper again and repeat the process with your mouth.
5. Look at the empty space in your picture. Consider what additional details you could add. You can even duplicate the facial features using different colored markers. You could even add patterns, words or symbols. Add another facial feature like your ears, chin, neck or hairline using yet another color of marker.
6. Paint - Dip a paintbrush in water and stroke it over the maker lines. The colors will begin to flow like paint. If you want more color in a different area use a marker to fill in and move the color around with more water.
7. Let the painting dry and add some details with the colored markers and/or the sharpie.
Now’s the time to reflect on your self portrait. Is it reflecting the emotions that you were feeling as you worked? Does this portrait tell a story?
It's time for us all to come out of hiding and be inspired to create a new way of life, even if we're a little scared. This exercise may even help you gain more clarity as you design you dream about future plans, goals and events. All you have to do is get started and trust the momentum that takes over.
Don't be afraid. The world needs your creative mind to flourish.