Colouring Outside the Lines: The Myth of Creative Incompetence

When I was a small girl, I used to enjoy colouring. I love colours (hence ‘Rainbows’ as part of my business name). Colours awaken joy and creativity in me. I also liked activity. Reading for any length of time triggered a sense of boredom (unless a story totally captivated me). Surely there was something more active going on outdoors and with our pets, wasn’t there?

So I would sit with my cousin and colour the pages in our colouring books. Or I would sit with my sister and best friend and read a book…until I was bored. Then I would start to colour more quickly to finish. The precision and smoothness of the strokes lost their artfulness and my mind started to focus on the activity of the story being created in my mind. I wanted to tell the story and live the story.

I would often hear that my work wasn’t as good as my cousin’s; wasn’t as neat or as artistic – so therefore I wasn’t as creative. My art teachers could never see the ‘story’ I was depicting. My mom’s best strategy was, ‘tell me about your picture Shirley’, so she didn’t have to guess what couldn’t be discerned on my page!

So I did not learn to believe that I was creative or had any gifts of real worth or value. What I didn’t see and apparently, neither did most of my teachers, was how and where my creative expression did emerge. In math, didn’t 2 + 2 equal harmony? In grammer class, didn’t my completely autonomous risk to vote different from every other student in the class about which sentence was grammatically correct (which I was embarrassedly right about) suggest ‘divergent thinking’ to anyone?

Neuroscience now understands that creativity is more than a right-brained phenomenon. Thank Goddess! And I finally have given myself permission to own my creative capacity. I’ll never come close to the beautiful expressions of the arts that have been traditionally connected to the ‘creative people’. Am I creative? Yup. I colour outside the lines…its called transformation. And I love guiding people through transformation.

So here’s an invitation for your own creative spirit – have your seven year-old child self write a letter to your ‘grandmother/grandfather’ self about what makes your heart want to happily create.