Sundry Posts

Do You Have Art Scars?


Recently, I’ve heard the term ‘Art Scars’ and I have been completely enthralled.

How I understand this term is the damage or trauma that often happens early in our lives that becomes the voice we hear whenever we begin to create or even to think about being creative.

We all have a story, maybe from our early years with our families or from an early incident at school, that comes to mind when we speak of the story of our creativity. Often this incident is so incredibly painful that we are held back for years from being creative.

Consider the following:

Once, a little girl had a favorite dress. Lavender and lace, going all the way to the floor, she felt like a princess each time she wore it. That little girl had a favorite teacher whom she wanted to share this experience with. One day, she went to the paper shelf, where she and all of the children in her class could find paper to use for whatever they wanted to, and found a large scrap of thick white paper, the kind that her teacher used for many things around the class room. She decided she would draw a picture of herself wearing her favorite dress to give to her teacher.

After spending considerable time on her picture, she stood in front of her beloved teacher, standing in the middle of the classroom with all the other children milling around. Holding the picture out, the little girl was so excited.

In that moment the teacher, only seeing the white paper, began to reprimand the little girl for using the paper meant for other uses. When the child attempted to explain she’d found the paper on the paper shelf, the teacher didn’t listen. She simply told the child she was no longer allowed to go to the paper shelf without permission. The child turned away and hid her tears.

I believe that there are lessons in every experience of life and this little girl learned some hard lessons:

◆ Her creativity wasn’t as important as the cost and purpose of the medium.
◆ She needed permission to create.
◆ Not everyone can give support regardless of our feelings for them.

Of course, these are just some of the lessons learned by a wound that eventually turns into an art scar. In order to heal from one of these blows, one must stop the festering, a drawing off of the poison if you will.

Healing begins by first realizing there is an actual hurt, after all the voices must come from somewhere. After the realization comes the acceptance because if you continue to rail against the pain and unfairness, there is little energy left for healing.

Healing is what we are after if we are going to live that creative and fulfilling life we are after.

To do this we have to understand the actual lessons:

1. We are creative and, will be creative regardless of the cost. As a human being, we are all creative in one way or another.
2. We don’t need anyone’s permission to create. If you insist on needing permission, please accept this blog post as such.
3. Support is always helpful but we cannot count on anyone else in our creative endeavors.

Knowing where your scars are can help you overcome those early experiences.

Create for the sake of yourself and for creativity. It is, after all, your life and no one can live it for you.


  • Joanne

    Yes, “art scars”–too many to remember, but that has turned out to be a good thing for me as I have launched myself into not just one, but two creative career paths over the past seven years. Although I would not have used the term “art scars” at the beginning, I did realize that I had to exorcise the voices of those who delivered the “blows” that caused those scars so I could be free to create. I did it–not without emotional pain, but I did it. I also created a barrier to prevent further “art scars” from attaching and inhibiting my creative processes–not always easy to employ, but successful so far. Thanks, Angela, for addressing this very important issue!