Surfacing From Being a Shadow Artist

Maybe there was a time when you pursued a creative passion related to an artistic pursuit you engaged in. You drew or painted, played an instrument or sang, you danced, wrote poems or short stories or made unusual objects that surprised and delighted you.

Something may have happened in your life that side tracked your creative expressions. You might have become very busy with your education, your job or career, starting a business, an important relationship came about, you started a family, you raised children or some other life circumstances. You vowed to yourself, you would get back to it some day but that day never quite came.

You might also have gotten some critical or discouraging feedback from teachers, family members or friends that made you self-conscious or caused you to think you were not good enough to continue your creative pursuits.

You may still have some passion around your creative pursuits but choose to follow others who continue to express and develop themselves rather than make your own journey.

Julia Cameron in her classic book on creativity, The Complete Artist’s Way: Creativity as a Spiritual Practice, describes people in this situation as Shadow Artists.pg41.

Shadow artists tend to be critical of them selves and discouraged that they did not act further on their creative dreams. Perhaps they didn’t receive enough encouragement and support from those around them or blame themselves for not persevering.

However, as a shadow artist you may also be aware that your creative dreams though dormant never left you. There may still be a certain longing for or sense of loss associated with not turning your creative dream into reality.

This occurred for me regarding getting away from singing and playing music earlier in my life. For many years, I made marginal attempts at teaching myself to play the guitar.

This was before the internet when you would pay for lessons or possibly learn to play chords to the songs from chord books you wanted to play.

It was a discouraging process and I eventually drifted away. Many years later, I realized singing and playing an instrument was something I really wanted to do and I began to look for lessons on the internet and slowly make time to practice. I may never be Stevie Ray Vaughn but I am entertaining myself and having fun doing it.

In order for you to awaken your dormant creative passions; you must be willing to get in touch with those parts of yourself and consider giving them voice in your life again.

Maybe now is the time to once again pursue your creative pursuits in a more dedicated and meaningful manner. It might be helpful to consider yourself to be in a kind of creative recovery. 

It is important to consider not only what is meaningful about your creative pursuit but also the best way to go about pursuing it.

Do you need to warm up to the idea of your creative pursuit? Do you need to reacquaint yourself with materials, update or read about it, take a class, join a group or community of other artists or do some other preparation for reengaging your creative expressions?

You might consider what is different in your life or feels better for you now versus before when you were engaged in your creative activities that may make it possible for you move forward now in a meaningful way?

Once you begin to feel some of the passion you once felt about your creative pursuit; it will be easier to designate regular time to think about it or engage in it.

It may be helpful to find some support for your creative endeavors through friends, a class, a creative community or a coach.

Over the years in my career I have worked with a variety of people from all walks of life doing psychotherapy, organizational development consulting and different kinds of coaching. 

I have worked with artists, musicians, singers, writers, dancers, actors, potters, photographers and others who have creative pursuits.

Because of my background as a coach, psychotherapist and doing business consulting, I am able to help people consider the key aspects of their life that may be getting in the way of them pursuing their creative passions. 

It’s never to late to pursue your creative passions, but why wait any longer?

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