Do you have an ‘art scar’ holding you back?

When we’re kids, a lack of art teaching + having our art compared negatively to others, can lead us into a creative block known as an ‘art scar’ that can last for YEARS if not life. Here let's explore why & how to get over it & get making art...

“Art’s not for me”

Do you wish you could paint & draw but a part of you
cringes at the thought of picking up a pencil or brush? Your pulse quickens? A queasiness sets in? And you think: “I guess it’s not for me”. Or do you know someone who feels this way?

You, or they, may be experiencing a shame trigger in relation to making art. 

Why do so many people feel this way about something that ought to be fun?

Shame & vulnerability researcher Brene Brown, conducted thousands of interviews where she heard the life stories of diverse men and women in the US. She states:

85% of the men and women I’ve interviewed remember something so shaming that happened in school that forever changed the way they thought of themselves as learners. For 50% of those people the shaming experience was around creativity. They have art scars. And by art scars, they can point to a specific moment in time where they were laughed at or put down. (from a 2017 a talk called ‘The Power of Vulnerability)

This is a massive number of people with art scars. MASSIVE. So if you’re one of them, please know you are FAR from alone in being given this creative block. 

What did Brene discover was at the root of this? Comparison.

Picture the scene. You’re 9 years old. You’re in an art lesson at school. You’ve always enjoyed drawing and painting. This lesson you’re asked to draw a cat with felt-tip pens. You have a go. It’s fun to do. It looks ok. But for the first time you look around and really notice that Sally’s cat looks more like a cat than yours does. So does Will’s. It doesn’t feel good. 

Then your teacher says something to you like ‘ahh don’t worry, we can’t all be great at art. You’re good at maths’. OR worse, they say something critical of your cat picture.

One of my childhood cat drawings. I had to add flowers, even back then!

Suddenly you don’t want to try at art any more. From this point on you’ll hardly do it for fun at all. So you won’t practise much any more. So you won’t get better. So you won’t feel like doing it. And so on. 

This is the all too familiar pattern from so many people’s childhoods. By age 9 we start to make comparisons with other children’s art. And so do our teachers. And it can kill off desire and confidence to make art. 

In fact, here’s the most recent real-life story I’ve been told about this – told to me by a dad of one of my kids’ friends when I mentioned I was writing this blog post:

‘I was 11 and I’d got quite good at pencil sketching and really enjoyed it. Then one day the art teacher in our lesson said we were going to do some painting that lesson and put a set of paints on each table. I’d not done any painting for ages and I was really unsure of what I was doing. There was no instruction. When the teacher walked around looking at what we’d done, he said to me in front of everyone ‘I’ve never seen someone so good at sketching be so terrible at painting.’  He might have been trying to pay me a compliment about my sketching but I never wanted to paint again and I even went off sketching.’

Lack of teaching & a fixed mindset

What I find infuriating about this kind of thing is that the art instruction offered to children at this age is often pretty non existent. Often the ‘draw a cat’ or ‘do some painting’ directive might or might not be accompanied with a picture to copy. But there’s hardly ever any actual instruction. No step-by-step. No slow demo, no clear explanation of the process.

In no other subject would this be considered a ‘lesson’. In fact this attitude when it comes to art is part of  what psychologist Carol Dweck in her book Mindset: The New Psychology of Success calls a ‘fixed mindset’ approach. People with a ‘fixed mindset’ don’t understand that skills can be grown and developed in every area of life and act as if they were either born with skills and abilities in certain areas, or not. 

So with art in schools, only those who can already draw and paint are encouraged to pursue it. As if there are those who can, and those who can’t. Allocated at birth. Fixed.

My experience

Personally, I didn’t experience an art scar when I was a child. If I did I’m sure I wouldn’t be doing what I do and writing this blog. Instead, I was one of the children who ‘could’. 

But my art abilities aged 9 weren’t a case of innate talent. They were down to lots of practice. I had enjoyed painting and drawing as a young child (yes, I expect that initial interest is a spark we’re born with) and for a variety of reasons, including encouragement from my parents,  it became my thing to do at home. I spent hours tucked away in my room on my own doing it. I put many, many hours in to become one who ‘could’.  And I received a bit of instruction from my dad too. 

Like this page from my holiday diary aged 6 – I think you can tell he’d just given me a lesson on perspective (like, done it for me!). The point is I can actually still remember that lesson, that’s how much I appreciated it: 


I did get a P.E scar around sport and physicality instead, and was one of the kids who ‘couldn’t’ do that. A stand out moment was being called a ‘silly cow’ for having a ‘lazy leg’ when swimming aged 10. I still love to splash about, but how confident do you think I feel about swimming even today?  We all get something. 

Interesting side note: my P.E scar actually ended up helping my art skills. I got a leg condition aged 13 related to growing too fast that meant I was able to get signed off from P.E for almost a whole year. I was thrilled! 

After being forced to write out the rules of various sports multiple times during the P.E lessons I was missing, my parents complained and I was allowed to sit in on extra art classes with the 17 year old kids. That worked out great as I could get inspired by their artwork without feeling bad about comparing mine as ‘worse’ – I was 4 years younger after all. 

Taking a Growth mindset & letting go of comparison

If we instead adopt what Dweck calls a Growth mindset, acknowledging our ability to develop and grow our skills over time, we see that kids – and even those adults embarking on learning art – need to have their enthusiasm nurtured and to be given instruction to cultivate their skills to the standard they want to.

And beyond that they need to be helped to avoid making sideways comparisons with others, focus on the enjoyment we get from making art and compare themselves only to how they’re progressing compared to where they started

Why does it matter? So we can live wholeheartedly.

Through her interviews, Brene Brown identified people she refers to as ‘wholehearted’, and identified things they do, and don’t do which she details in the book ‘The Gifts Of Imperfection.’ 

She defines Wholehearted living, as 

engaging in our lives from a place of worthiness. It means cultivating the courage, compassion & connection to wake up in the morning and think, No matter what gets done and how much is left undone, I am enough. It’s going to bed at night thinking, Yes I’m imperfect and vulnerable and sometimes afraid, but that doesn’t change the truth that I am also brave and worthy of love and belonging. 

Or put more simply, people living and loving with their whole hearts. People who, importantly, loved themselves

And she explains that wholehearted living is not a one-time choice, but the journey of our lifetimes. 

Using their creativity emerged as an important thing that wholehearted people do. It helped them create meaning in their lives: 

If we want to create meaning, we need to make art. Cook, write, draw, doodle, paint, scrapbook, take pictures, collage, knit, rebuild an engine, sculpt, dance, decorate act, sing. It doesn’t matter. As long as we’re creating, we’re cultivating meaning. 

And there are real consequences to not using our creativity:

Creativity is a function of being human. There are simply people who use their creativity and those who do not. And here is the really hard news: Unused creativity is not benign. It does not dissipate. It metastasises. And unused creativity turns into: rage, grief, shame, judgement…Inside us all is creativity. And when we don’t use it, I’m telling you, it does not go away.’

We can’t afford to let our art scars (or any other scars for that matter) hold us back.

Know that YOU ARE CREATIVE. And with proper instruction, a bit of time, and with an attitude of self-encouragement,  you CAN begin creating artwork you’re proud of. FOR YOU. We’ve collated hundreds of stories from our members who’ve done just that. You can read a few here

Let’s share

I’d love for us to de-shame any art-scar type experiences here in the comments.  Did you experience one but overcame its hold on you and proved them wrong? Or are you feeling like now’s the time to grow your skills and put any art scars behind you? I’d love to know so I can cheer you on.  I read all the comments and reply to as many as I can.

And, if this doesn’t apply to you personally, can you think of a friend or loved one who it might? Someone who says they’re ‘just not artistic’ and yet they’ve never actually had any instruction or support to grow their artistic skills?  If so, please do them a favour and send them a link to this post. It might be just what they need to read.

Share this post!


  1. Markianna on July 25, 2023 at 4:44 pm

    I have always loved music and singing……
    I sang in a church choir, preteen years…made a loud mistake once during practice, was laughed at, and shut down
    I made up songs for my children but never anything else.
    I was told not to sing by a teacher friend….we were in pur 40’s
    15 years ago I joined a kitchen gig,,just to listen, and quietly sing along while others performed with instruments and voice.I
    I was asked to sing many, many times.
    I am so wanting to sing with them…..I am at the cusp of just doing it… is so hard!

    • Anna Mason on July 25, 2023 at 6:07 pm

      Go for it Markianna, don’t let that one horrible experience hold you back.

  2. Jane Charbonneau on July 25, 2023 at 5:20 pm

    I clearly remember two incidents of art shaming in my life. The first occurred when I was 5 years old, in grade Primary (just before grade one, at the time). We were given sheets with geometric shapes outlined in black and instructed to colour them. That was the only instruction. So, I began to colour – with my colouring lines going in all directions; in whatever way I felt compelled to move the crayon. When the Sister came to my desk, as she was “checking” everyone’s progress, I was told “That’s not the way you colour!” and proceeded to instruct me to colour by beginning at the edges and colouring in the shape “AS the shape” (e.g., a square as a square, progressing to the center). Funnily, I remember thinking to myself how ridiculous that instruction was. I mean, you colour however you colour, right??
    The second incident occurred when I was 10, in fifth grade. This teacher believed that one of my classmates was “the artist” and “knew how to do it right”. This teacher made it quite clear that I was wasting my time even trying. This time, I did not have the inner confidence to know that her point of view was just that. This left a deep scar that contributes to my perfectionism, even today (and I’m much older, lol). Logically, I *know* I can learn to paint well – time, patience, helpful instruction, willingness – but I fear failure, which holds me back.
    It’s difficult to heal these wounds, but not impossible. I have made progress and will continue to. Thanks, Anna!

    • Anna Mason on July 25, 2023 at 6:06 pm

      That’s right Jane, difficult but not impossible. I cheer you on!

  3. Cindy Morris on July 25, 2023 at 5:26 pm

    When I was in secondary school (many many years ago) about to start an art project for my exam, everyone was given a topic, most of them were fantastic. For example, my friend was given the topic of camouflage. However, I was given the topic of drawing an iron! A boring inanimate object. I was given no advice or idea on how to approach this subject. I was so downcast that I ended up not going back to any further lessons to complete it. I actually wanted to go to art college but because of that incident not only did I not go to art college, I didn’t draw or do any art for over 20 years!

    • Anna Mason on July 25, 2023 at 6:05 pm

      Oh no Cindy! An iron! That does sound off-putting. I’m sorry you experienced that but pleased you found your way back to art making.

  4. Carol Johns on July 25, 2023 at 5:34 pm

    I would like to share a most meaningful message I received from artists here in Sun City Carolina Lakes. When we moved here I was encouraged to join the art group. They mentored, taught me how to accept constructive criticism, sharing ideas and techniques. A small group formed from this club. We met every week and I was encouraged to enter the club’s art show. I won people’s choice award, but more importantly, I realized it was me who had willingly set up roadblocks and the joy of my art shared with others became a glorious reality.

    • Anna Mason on July 25, 2023 at 6:04 pm

      That’s a great story Carol. Just shows how we can help each other in this process. What a lovely sounding art group you have.

  5. Fiona Bridgeman on July 25, 2023 at 5:40 pm

    I was told at school not to do art at A level as I wouldn’t get a good grade. Such a disgrace and I thought I was rubbish until I had the opportunity to join a small village art class at the age of 50! What a shock to find out I was actually quite good. The art teacher was impressed and couldn’t believe I had never painted in water colours before.
    I was also told I did not have an aptitude for languages and wasn’t allowed to learn German. I now live in France, and speak fluently, also speak Spanish and Greek and understand basic Italian.
    Just goes to show! Follow your dreams !

    • Anna Mason on July 25, 2023 at 6:03 pm

      Absolutely Fiona! Thank you for sharing this.

  6. Anne Kibbler on July 25, 2023 at 5:55 pm

    I didn’t exactly experience “art shaming,” although I can relate to comparing my work with that of more talented friends and giving up because I thought mine was no good. My bad experience was in sewing. I was making a turquoise paisley corduroy skirt at school (see how I can remember the details!), and I had never used an electric sewing machine, just my mum’s hand-cranked Singer. The first seam I sewed was crooked, so the teacher made me unpick it with a pin. The stitches were so tight that it took hours to get it done — by which time, everyone else had nearly finished their skirts. From then on, I decided I was terrible at sewing. Only in my 40s did I try sewing again and, miraculously, I could actually do a halfway decent job!

    My daughter had the worst art shaming experience I’ve heard of. She was in elementary school — probably about 10 years old — when her teacher held up one of her paintings as an example of how not to complete the required exercise. She then cut the painting in half, saying only one half was any good. My daughter ran out of the classroom and has had no interest in art ever since. Such a shame, since her previous teacher remembered one of my daughter’s paintings many years later and actually asked if she could buy it! That same wonderful teacher was the person who gave me the courage to start painting because of her fantastic work with both my children and her belief that EVERYONE can be an artist.

    • Anna Mason on July 25, 2023 at 6:02 pm

      Thanks for sharing those stories Anne. I’m hoping your daughter will come back to art making one day, just as you tried sewing again. I’m glad you had the encouragement to paint yourself too.

      • Anon on July 25, 2023 at 7:32 pm

        I just finished a two year full time art course which I loved. I’ve never had any formal training. in my first year, I knew that most of the class were more talented than me and I didn’t feel bad, I just learned a lot from them.
        in 2nd year, some of the class had moved on and new classmates began. they are all eastern European and if any of you know, they are so talented. didn’t bother me, looked forward to learning. my teacher just loves the newstudents so much that anything any of the rest of the class did is not good enough. it’s a mixed class ranging in ages 18 to 67. all genders and colours and nationalities. most of this year’s work she has completely cut down. not only to me but most of us. I’m 58 years old and felt like a twit, useless.
        at the end of the year she advised me to do a fine art degree! what? what kind of mixed messages are these?
        I was accepted on my portfolio into a degree course but I’m so nervous and anxious now about doing it. only reason I’m doing it now is I’m too embarrassed to not do it.

        • Anna Mason on July 25, 2023 at 8:37 pm

          I’m sure if you were accepted on that your standard of work is high. Our artwork is so incredibly personal that criticism, especially from art teachers can be really rough. I hope you can find it in yourself to offer yourself some kind words. And ultimately, remember, if YOU ENJOY making it, you are winning at life, no matter what anyone else has to say.

    • Francesca on July 25, 2023 at 7:02 pm

      Anne, I believe anyone who WANTS to paint, can paint. I used to teach porcelain painting (European closed medium) and I found that if the student WANTED to paint they would find it within themselves (with the proper guidance) to be able to paint. Painting is different for each person….take a walk in an art gallery or an art museum…styles and techniques vary with each artist.

      I’ve seen paintings in the Louvre that I wouldn’t pay $10 for….but it IS art…

      • Anne Kibbler on July 28, 2023 at 2:37 am

        Francesca, your students were lucky to have your encouragement. That makes all the difference in the world. And yes, art is so individual and subjective that we shouldn’t get hung up on right and wrong. If we enjoy it, that’s all that matters.

  7. Itala on July 25, 2023 at 6:01 pm

    I do have painting scars, gave up on it, but I feel sad because I miss it. When I am painting all the problems and stress disappear and I feel happy. How much does it cost to belong to your group ?

  8. Sarah on July 25, 2023 at 6:22 pm

    My whole childhood I was compared to my naturally talented, older sister by my mother. Every time I tried something and wasn’t great at it immediately my mom would tell me that it was not my thing, or how great she thought my sister would be at this thing. I started painting (“your sister would be great at this!”). I started sculpting (“oh, you should show your sister this!”). I got into baking and was obsessed with making cakes. I bought all these supplies to make a big fondant cake to practice. My mom comes home from work and immediately says “that’s cute! you know who would be great at this? your sister. because she’s good at sculpting… it’s just not your thing.”

    Her favourite line – “you’ll figure out your own thing some day”

    My parents are very creative, and I have 2 older sisters who are a photographer and (the sister) a graphic designer. I was with my mom in the store when I was 16 and someone approached her, and they asked what her daughters are up to.
    “oh! my eldest is a photographer and has had gallery showings. The other is a graphic designer who also had showings and is university for fine art. And Sarah? (right in front of me) We don’t know what Sarahs going to do. (laughs) Sarah doesn’t even know what she’s going to do, right Sarah? you’ll figure out your own thing some day”.

    When it comes from your own mother it really hurts. It took me living abroad for 6 years to fully embrace that my interests are the same as my sisters and that that’s okay, and that I might not be naturally talented like her, but I don’t have to be.

    When I discovered my dream job of surface pattern design/art licensing I waited for over a year until I felt confident in myself that I could tell my family. When I told my mom can you guess what she said? “you should show your sister. she would be great at that.”

    but now I’m in a place where I can handle it… it only took 30 years.

    • Margaret Campbell on July 25, 2023 at 6:44 pm

      I am so sorry that your mother is not loving towards you. We were poor and my Mom would tell me as I went out the door to ice skate on our small pound. You can be another Barba Ann Scott ,great Canadian skater., during the 50s.Always encourage your children. I became a Military member for 25 yrs .,not a skater. but her encouragements lead me to a wonderful life. I do paint and sew.

    • Anon on July 25, 2023 at 7:38 pm

      my whole childhood was the same. my parents were very loving. I don’t think they meant to hurt me, rather to spur me on. to this day though, I have never felt as good as my older siblings.

      • Anna Mason on July 25, 2023 at 8:35 pm

        Parents very rarely mean harm and we can often mis-interpret things as kids but the hurt is very real all the same.

    • Anna Mason on July 25, 2023 at 8:54 pm

      Wow Sarah, thank you for sharing your experience. And congratulations on getting to a place where those comments from your mum no longer wound in the way they once did. Sibling comparison is a horrible thing. I really feel for you. Well done also for discovering that dream job and for making the space for you to connect with yourself and your own passions.

  9. Gail ellis on July 25, 2023 at 6:23 pm

    I am severely dyslexic. This has really affected my painting ability. I can’t draw a straight line vertical or horizontal, and I don’t see shadow’s. I am passionate about pursuing my painting as I want to express the beauty I see all around me. Sa kid, I gave up my passion for music as it was just too stressful (that was in the early days when people knew nothing about this handicap). I am challenged with my painting, but I’ml old now and want to pursue it. Funny as the lord gave me perfect pitch so I can sing a song or create one. With painting, I can see tonal changes very we’ll. But can’t draw a straight line horizontally or vertically, even with a ruler. This can be frustrating, but I so want to express the beauty or feelings in me through my painting. I see and hear such beauty everywhere. This is why some of the tutorials are frustrating for me. I would just love to paint pics of my grandchildren. Art is so important. I paint with my grands every opportunity I am given.

    • Anna Mason on July 25, 2023 at 8:50 pm

      I’m so pleased you’re pursuing this passion Gail despite the extra challenges with it you’ve been given. Your uniqueness will no doubt shine through your art.

  10. Francesca on July 25, 2023 at 6:36 pm

    This is did not happen to me directly but to our youngest son. My husband and I were called into the school for a meeting with our sons teacher (uh oh). When we got there, the teacher shared what the problem was….Our sone didn’t color Clifford the red dog red, he colored it purple. Although I thought being brought in for this was RIDICULOUS, I didn’t want our son to feel what I was feeling…I wanted him to respect his teachers (although THIS art teacher didn’t deserve it). I asked him “why did you color Clifford Purple?” His response was “Have YOU ever seen a red dog? I prefer the color purple”. It made sense to me…but to this day (he’s 31) he still doesn’t think he can draw.

    • Anon on July 25, 2023 at 7:42 pm

      what a terrible shame that happened to your son.
      similar happened to my daughter. the art teacher lambasted her to me at a parent/ teacher meeting. I never told her but he used to always cut down her work. she now has zero interest in art of any kind.

      • Anna Mason on July 25, 2023 at 8:34 pm

        I can’t imagine why a teacher would be so unkind like that. It’s certainly his issues, and nothing to do with your daughter. I hope her interest can be rekindled at some point.

  11. Francesca on July 25, 2023 at 6:51 pm

    This one DID happened to me…but doesn’t relate to art. I speak several languages: English, Italian, Spanish, French and Brazilian. When I was young I wrote a letter to my Italian Grandfather, he returned it marked up and corrected. HE thought he was teaching me the correct way to say what I was saying….I choose NOT to write in Italian any more because of happened 60 years ago, although I’m positive I can, I won’t, because of my loving grandfathers “teaching”.

    What happens to us as children does stay with us. Even well meaning people can scar us.

    My brother who could draw well even before he could walk (really) was always being praised by our mother (perhaps it was because our mother was Italian and he her only son…but I digress). I was the younger child looking for a bit of praise too…but ANYTHING I ever gave her (as a child) art wise was received with “why are you giving me this trash, throw it away”. Once when I was home sick with nothing to do but stay in bed, I began copying a character in one of my books. When my mom came in to check on me, she saw my drawing and said I had done a good job….I only had to finish his shoes, but couldn’t. Her rare praise was like a stick in the spokes of a bicycle…I couldn’t complete the drawing. I’m sure shrinks/psychiatrists would have a lot to say about that.

    I don’t think that parents or adults should say everything a child does is wonderful or that every child deserves a participation trophy…but I DO believe that we can do better for/with our kids, by being kinder.

    • Sarah on July 25, 2023 at 8:41 pm

      my mother was very similar. I also don’t think children need constant praise, but they do need praise. They need the adult in their life to kindly encourage them to be better and tell them that they’re capable of being better. Not flat out discourage or insult their hard work.

    • Anna Mason on July 25, 2023 at 8:44 pm

      Oh Francesca, that sounds really deeply hurtful with your mum. I’m 100% with you on parents, and other adults needing to be kinder to children. There’s a long cultural history of them being treated with not enough kindness or, quite frankly respect. This was likely the case for your mum too but that doesn’t make her treatment of you around your art any less hurtful for you. I hope you’ve been able to access your creativity as an adult.

  12. Judy on July 25, 2023 at 6:55 pm

    In grade 1 I was presented with an outlined image of a Persian cat to colour. I sat there for some time not really sure what colour scat was. After some thought and still no idea what crayon to use I decided on ping because pink things are soft and fluffy and it was a soft and fluffy cat. When the teacher collected it from me she said “ cats aren’t pink!” I went from feeling pretty proud of my efforts to feeling totally stupid!

    • Anna Mason on July 25, 2023 at 8:40 pm

      Oh gosh Judy. A real life cat drawing shaming! I’m so sorry to read that. I expect the teacher’s tone and body language also were shaming – so much can be communicated in addition to words. Well I hope you were able to put that experience behind you. And I love the idea of a pink and fluffy cuddly cat!

  13. Susan Roitman on July 25, 2023 at 7:31 pm

    My father despised artists. I was about 30 when I took a lot of art classes free at a community college because I was teaching yoga there. I was told I was quite good. But then didn’t draw until 5 years ago. About a year ago I discovered botanical drawing with pencil and watercolor pencil. I still don’t do it as often as I wish I would. I think fear of success is my problem, and was my father’s! I am 76.

    • Anna Mason on July 25, 2023 at 8:29 pm

      So interesting that these patterns repeat. I am cheering on your success Susan.

  14. Audrey HORAN on July 25, 2023 at 8:04 pm

    I remember as a child always enjoying coloring, painting, and creating in some form or another. In sixth grade after studying the histories of Asian countries, we were assigned to do an art project featuring one of the countries. I chose to do a chalk drawing of the Taj Mahal. It came out quite well and I was proud to turn it in to my teacher. She called in our art teacher to have a look as well. They were cautiously positive but I had the feeling they thought my parents might have helped me. They hadn’t. I continued my interest in creating with pencil, chalk, watercolor, acrylic, crayon for me. In the tenth grade we had to take a semester of art class. It was here my interest in art died. Our teacher seemed to select those she viewed as budding artists which did not include me and when she chose my continuous line drawing to show the class what not to do, I shut down!

    Now, all that was many years ago. I turned my creative juices to sewing, knitting, crafting and quilting.
    Then at age 78 I joined an art class in our retirement community and discovered an innate talent long ago put to rest. Since then my watercolors have become better, richer and appreciated. My Anna Mason membership has further enhanced and stimulated me as a “work in progress” for which I am thankful. Now at 87, Art Class is weekly experience and I share teaching the class with a friend. We are all learning together using a variety of resources including Anna and Jennifer’s tutorials.

    • Anna Mason on July 25, 2023 at 8:32 pm

      This is wonderful to read Audrey. I’m thrilled that you came back to it with such gusto after having been put off by that teacher back then. You’re an inspiration.

  15. Helen Hunter on July 25, 2023 at 8:23 pm

    My ‘art shaming’ actually doesn’t involve art at all. I have always loved books and words, reading avidly my whole life. As a Girl Guide I wanted to get my Writers badge and worked towards it. However my Father told me what I’d written wasn’t good enough and wouldn’t allow me to submit it. I’d put all my imagination and love into my story (about a farmyard hen, by the way!) and in one day he completely undermined my confidence in myself as a writer. I went on to read Literature at University but in my heart I wish I could have been an author. Reading this blog and other people’s posts feels incredibly freeing. I knit, paint and sing, maybe I can allow myself to write now I see what happened all those years ago. Thank you for sharing your stories.

    • Anna Mason on July 25, 2023 at 8:30 pm

      100% you can Helen. And it sounds like you MUST x

    • Eli on July 25, 2023 at 8:39 pm

      Hi Helen ,
      Yes, I can comprehend your feelings .m
      I wanted to write books but it became a mental block when I was told not to write anything that is related to our live experiences etc .
      Even though I joined a writing course and have a ‘ ghost writer ‘ , I was too afraid that I might hurt someone emotionally with my stories even though I could write it as a fiction storytelling.
      It is never too late to live our dreams as I did after all my children were grown up and I find that I have enough time on my hands to do what I love doing learning new techniques and painting .
      I had painted twenty-one portraits ( Year 2021 ) of the medical team as in the surgeon , oncologist, cardiologist, doctors and nurses whom played a significant part in the past four and a half years of my treatment journey .
      Blessed to be here with like minded people .
      Thank you Anna for giving us a space to share our thoughts and experiences/m
      Kindest regards,m

  16. Eli on July 25, 2023 at 8:27 pm

    Hi Anna,
    Yes , I do have a few art scars from childhood to adulthood .
    I was told that it is no point in being an artist as in my younger days , artists were seen as not having a proper job and mainly it was frowned upon in our culture as it also means that we are not ‘ clever ‘ academically .
    In those days , mostly artists that we came across in our society were the creatives who had speech or hearing difficulties . They were employed as fashion window shop dressers or painting large murals for outdoor stage shows .
    In my adulthood , I was told that I am not a ‘real artist ‘ as I didn’t have a fine art degree to start with .
    It held me back for some years and I became like a ‘Sunday artist ‘ as some would call it , Painting as a hobby or pastime .
    Though I had a distinction for my art at O’ Levels , I didn’t proceed further to do a degree in art .
    But thankfully , I am now painting more in different mediums , learning from some of the best art tutors including yourself .m
    I have taken the courage to join your classes and learn how to proceed with watercolours even though I was told that it is not a forgiving medium .
    But it proved the critiques wrong as I learnt to paint with watercolours with your tutorials. .
    I agree with Audrey Horan what she mentioned in her last paragraph.
    I am now close to 70 years young and art keeps me busy mentally , creatively , physically too especially for the past four and a half years when I had undergone chemotherapy, radiotherapy etc .plus the Covid pandemic gave us something to focus on which is positive in every way too .
    Thank you for sharing with us your techniques in your tutorials.
    I have enjoyed and can paint with the help of your colours chosen too .
    Keep on doing what we like and a song as we have a strong desire to achieve something, we can see the completed picture in our mind and finish the studies ( My hubby is so proud of my studies of paintings from your tutorials that has them framed up and hung .

    • Anna Mason on July 25, 2023 at 9:00 pm

      I’m so proud of you too! Well done for coming back to this passion Eli.

  17. Jackie Hendy on July 25, 2023 at 8:32 pm

    I always enjoyed art at secondary school.I left school and got married and eventually decided to attend college on an A level art course. The first few weeks went okay and other students often commented that they liked my work. I remember we were asked to paint a still life consisting of a bottle of wine a loaf of bread and a few other items. I painted it and was happy with the result but the teacher started ripping my work to shreds and telling me absolutely everything was wrong about it. I tried to take the criticism onboard and tied to improve my picture by changing things he suggested but this was difficult as it looked fine from the viewpoint I had. He kept making me change everything which threw everything out of scale and it looked awful. This behaviour continued for some weeks and I was about to give up when the teacher had a couple of weeks off and a different teacher took the class and was full of praise for my work, it was good while it lasted but I could not cope with all the negativity on the first teacher’s return so I left the course and gave up painting until now and I’m now 62! I’m really enjoying it but regret the lost years.

    • Anna Mason on July 25, 2023 at 8:58 pm

      Thanks for sharing your story Jackie and it illustrates so well the element of luck (or lack of it) to these experiences. Had you had the second teacher you’d likely have kept it up. However, I’m sure you put your creative energy into other pursuits and that many things flourished that might otherwise not have. It’s never too late to get back to painting, as you’re finding now. Well done you!

      • Jackie Hendy on July 26, 2023 at 6:55 pm

        You are correct Anna I did do other creative things an enjoyed doing them. I have renovated several houses and redesigned the interiors and made all the soft furnishings I have built many garden projects such as garden furniture.etc and enjoyed garden design. These things were all done purely for myself as I didn’t want to cope with the criticism.
        I’m sure it was the anonymity of your online course that has given me back my confidence as I would not have joined a physical art class and I thank you for that.
        I’m amazed at how many people on your course have had ‘art scars’ maybe we are just a sensitive breed.

  18. Marian on July 25, 2023 at 9:04 pm

    Towards the end of my first term at secondary school my art teacher pulled me aside and said………I realise you find this very difficult and are never going to be any good at art so we won’t waste any more paper, you can help me tidy the art cupboard instead.. I have never tried to draw or paint anything since

    • Anna Mason on July 25, 2023 at 9:06 pm

      Noooo! Marian that’s awful. I’m so sorry that they said that to you. What an awful thing to do. If you’re here on my website you must still have an interest? I hope this post encourages you to give art a go again. That teacher’s comment might was likely more about them than you.

  19. Evette Norton on July 25, 2023 at 10:50 pm

    My grade in art class when I was nine and going to an English-run school overseas was 27th out of 28 students in the class so just one better than the very bottom of the class. It would probably have been the bottom of the class had the teacher not corrected my watercolor painting by painting over it. She gave that one a good grade because she liked her own painting!.

    • Anna Mason on July 26, 2023 at 1:53 pm

      Oh Evette, that must have felt horrible. I hope you’re back to painting now.

  20. Elena on July 25, 2023 at 10:56 pm

    I did a semester of student teaching in a high school art class while I was in college. One day the teacher announced to the students that “no one here is an artist, and no one ever will be.” I proceeded to undermine him by telling each student individually that art is for everyone and never to give up!

    • Anna Mason on July 26, 2023 at 1:53 pm

      Good for you Elena, what was that teacher thinking!

  21. Lois B on July 26, 2023 at 1:47 am

    Art scars, I’ve never heard it called that, but it does resonate with me. And not just art scars but also singing scars. When I was 16-17 I had a part-time job teaching young kids to play the guitar at a music studio, one on one. At the same time I was taking guitar lessons myself. When it came time to prepare for a recital, I picked a piece I liked that had a country western feel to it. Finally, about a week or so before the recital, my guitar teacher told me to pick a piece without words instead. Oh boy, I haven’t tried to sing since. And I’m 61 now. And only in the past month have I actually picked up my guitar, the same one I had 45 years ago, and started teaching myself. My husband is my biggest fan there! Then the art scar, which came from a professional illustrator, working in the industry. She was like a second mother to me, and perhaps she thought she was protecting me. I did a lot of drawing in high school, and thought that maybe I would go to art school and pursue a career in medical or some kind of technical illustration. Until my good friend, which she really was, told me not to, that I would never make it. I stopped making any kind of art, drawing or painting for decades, and have really only gotten back into it in the past 10 years or so. I can feel that spark of creativity simmering, and try when I can, but I still suffer from those words, and often feel like there’s no point for me. This blog, from Anna, about this topic, today, seems very cathartic to me. So thank you, to Anna, and to all who shared.

    • Anna Mason on July 26, 2023 at 1:57 pm

      Lois, it was likely ‘her stuff’, not ‘you stuff’. That’s what’s so sad about so many of these stories. It’s impossible to see it that way when we’re younger. And our hurt feelings need to be tended to. But if you can feel that spark of creativity simmering Lois then I can guarantee art IS something you need to be doing. I’m so pleased for you that you found a way back to it, and I hope you can throw yourself into it even more as you re-frame those words as not true, and very unhelpful & ultimately damaging.

  22. Lu on July 26, 2023 at 3:51 am

    I have carried an ‘art scar’ for what seems like my whole life. During my early elementary school yrs, I was in an art session of my class time when my teacher informed me that I would “NEVER BE ABLE TO DRAW OR BECOME AN ARTIST” because of how I hold/grip my pencils (writing/sketching/painting instruments). I was crushed, cried, and really never took up drawing, sketching or painting for real anymore, other than tracing things or filling in pre-drawn images, as her voice still pops into my head saying those words to me in front of my classmates all those yrs ago. Now in my older yrs, I have made numerous attempts at all of it and many times am disappointed feeling that maybe I’ve waited too long to truly grow in it or enjoy it.

    • Anna Mason on July 26, 2023 at 2:00 pm

      It’s never too late Lu. That teacher was cruel and wrong. The fact that you can recognise that you were gifted an art scar that has hurt you deeply, means you can also step out of that and apply a different narrative to your artistic attempts. Something like ‘my results aren’t where I’d like them to be yet. That’s to be expected. I haven’t been able to give myself the time I need for this until now.’ Then remind yourself that it doesn’t take years to get to a decent standard with your painting. Research shows that in just 20 hours you’ll be much better. I like to think about numbers of paintings too. See how you’re doing in 10 paintings time. You can do this.

  23. Fay on July 26, 2023 at 3:53 am

    You don’t just have to be a child. I’m 72 and rediscovered art as my passion during covid. An artist friend has been constantly slowly undermining me for some time. The crunch came when she viewed an oil of an Cafe au Lait Dahlia I had painted. It had been applauded by so many people. When I showed it to her, she said ‘You know the only thing I like about it is the tiny marks you added to the inner petals’. My inner child was paralysed and remembered every instance from the past 72 years where I had been put down or shut down by “well meaning” people. It took me some time to rehang it on the wall. Every time I walk passed it now I think to myself that’s a great painting and I know the kids are going to fight over it when I’m gone.

    • Anna Mason on July 26, 2023 at 2:02 pm

      Good for you in overcoming that critical moment from your ‘friend’ Fay. It’s so obvious hearing that story that your friend must have her own art insecurities that motivated her comment. The main thing is: do YOU love it? That really is what it’s all about. And it sounds like you do like that painting very much.

  24. Carol on July 26, 2023 at 4:18 am

    I entered a new school when I was in 5th grade. It was a private school and for me coming from a public one, it felt intimidating. It was a small class, and the rest of the kids came from a privilege background but that was not my case. I entered with full scholarship because of my great academic performance, but, let’s be realistic, it’s difficult to compare private and public education in South America. So, my previous experience at art class was basically painting with color pencils on a simple white paper sheet.
    So that first year in my new school was hard in every sense. But art class, that was painful. That school year I was the only student who never got any of her watercolor works or any art work, indeed, displayed on the classroom board. My conclusion was, ‘I suck at art’.
    The next school year wasn’t any better. The year after that I was given the option to choose between art class and theater class, and although I was a very shy girl, I thought, ‘lucky me!’, and I literally prayed for myself to be accepted for theater class, because I hated art.
    I was chosen for theater.
    How things are, I ended up loving theater, not without so much suffering because of my shyness. But it made me so much good at the same time. I practiced theater for the next 6 years in secondary school and then 3 more years at the university.
    And what happened to art, may you be wondering. Well, I reconnected with art, ceramics to be more specific, when I was adult, pregnant and living in a foreign country. And, magically, it was if I never had any bad experience with art, so there was nothing to be judged for, I think, and everything just flowed. I made decent works that we still keep. And for more than two decades I’ve been considered as an artist by my family and friends. I still don’t believe it. Art is not my profession but it’s something that I wish for my future. And art is very much part of my kids’ life as well.
    I have tried different mediums along the way, but what really moves my soul is watercolor, that medium that never got any of my works exposed for my classmates, wow!
    Watercolor feels like home.
    Now that my kids are going to the university, it feels like my time to pursue those artist’s dreams.
    Thank you for this space!

    • Anna Mason on July 26, 2023 at 2:08 pm

      Carol it sounds like you’ve always had the art spark and that your lack of experience compared to your peers at private school was a very damaging experience for you as you took it to be failing of your innate abilities rather than just that you needed more time, and certainly to be away from that peer group and teacher, to find your creative confidence. So pleased that you’re so creative now. Also your positive experience of theatre is a reminder that positives can also come from these negative experiences. All’s well that end’s well if we make it back to making art at some stage.

  25. Anonymous on July 26, 2023 at 4:55 am

    I moved to a new state the month before my freshman year of high school started. we didn’t know that you don’t take art classes in this new town. I took a stained glass class. I almost failed it. I was super stupid and took a drawing class from the same teacher the next semester. I got an A- in drawing because of the portrait assignment. it broke my 4.0 GPA from 6th to 12th grade goal. one A- ruined that for me and not just the GPA. but my relationship with my mother who is really good at charcoal art and painting. she told me I was a failure, mistake, loser because I quit trying to improve the portrait. she said she wished she had never given birth to me and she wished she could kick me out of the house but I wasn’t 18 years old yet so she couldn’t. I have tried getting back into art because I enjoy it but I don’t show her anything. I have almost completely cut her out of my life which is sad because she helped me through all my health problems starting in 6th grade.

    • Anna Mason on July 26, 2023 at 2:10 pm

      I’m so sorry to hear of this experience you’ve had with your mother, it must have been deeply traumatising. I am so impressed that you’ve found your way back to making art at all, and it sounds very wise that you keep your mother separate to that. Good for you and I hope you continue to enjoy your creativity.

  26. Mersina on July 26, 2023 at 5:18 am

    Oh my I too have an art scar. Back when I was in year 7 we were given a ‘project’ in our art class .Our instruction was “paint whatever you want”. Growing up we didn’t have paint resources at home so I got a piece of Masonite from the backyard, some paints ( I’m not sure where I got those, perhaps from school) and painted the cover from a book we had . I think it was called the SCREAM. No teaching or instruction was given. I was so happy with my result and took it enthusiastically to school. All I can remember was the teacher’s reaction. “What is this , it’s terrible “ from that day I didn’t draw, paint or did anything in the arts. All my working life I thought I couldn’t paint. But in my mind I wanted to. I kept saying when I retire I will learn. As it happens that’s exactly what happened. I am so excited about my progress and am enjoying it so much . I feel sad for the year wasted where I could have enjoyed a beautiful experience. However that is all in the past , but I’ll never forget the teacher who totally discouraged me and I believed her.

    • Anna Mason on July 26, 2023 at 2:13 pm

      That’s a really sad Art Scar story Mersina, and I’m so sorry you experienced that. It’s just awful how some teachers respond to the enthusiasm of a child. It’s so cruel. You made your way back to it and I’m really proud of you for that!

  27. Sara on July 26, 2023 at 9:36 am

    I was in an after school art class when I was 7-13. I loved it more than anything, and I couldn’t wait to be there every week. I always felt like I could never be as good as the others, but what I did not realise, is that pretty much everyone was at least 2 years older than me, and the people whose art I admired and compared myself to were already in high school.
    I could feel that the teacher didn’t like me, and that what I mad was never good enough for her. She started to limit what I could do. While others were allowed to use colors I had to stick to my graphite pencil and black ink. She also told me exactly what to redraw in what way when we had an exhibition, because she didn’t think my work was good enough. I don’t think she realised how much younger I was.
    My biggest scar is when we did lino prints, and mine were never “ready” or “deep enough” in her eyes, even though by the end it had literal holes in them. She never let me press them. Each time I brought them to her they had some mistake in her eye. I was the only person in the class whose work was not only never pressed, but not sent to the competition that they were made for. Looking back, my work had absolutely nothing wrong with it.
    The last straw was when I told my parents that I would like to be an interior designer. My father disapproved of it, so he pulled me from my art classes. I was not allowed to be creative.

    • Anna Mason on July 26, 2023 at 2:15 pm

      Sounds like you experienced a lot of art scars Sara, and I’m so sorry that you did. As you’re here in our community, I do hope that means you’re either back to making art, or on the cusp of doing so. As it’s clearly something very important to you that you need to honor for yourself.

  28. Margaret D on July 26, 2023 at 1:12 pm

    Good Morning Everyone!
    My art scar is associated with what one would initially think was a positive observation. I was complimented. I was encouraged and rewarded because I was excelling at math and science classes. I was advised to spend all my time pursuing these, art was nice but not a valid way to move forward. I still do not know, to this day, why a child cannot do both.
    When I discovered Watercolors with Anna Mason (in my 50’s) I discovered such joy and fun creating, it has been a huge gift.
    To try and rectify this another young person’s life I give to teachers at Many have projects focusing on Watercolor projects. I hope that this will encourage even one young person to include art in their lives early and often in whatever capacity works for them.

    • Anna Mason on July 26, 2023 at 2:20 pm

      That’s really interested Margaret. Looked at this way I guess I could think of myself as having an art scar because, like you, I was encouraged to pursue academic subjects as I got older, and for Uni. I did enjoy other subjects too. However, I managed to keep doing art during my A Levels (16-18 yrs old) because I did it as an ‘extra’ one in addition to 3 academic subjects – 3 being the normal amount to do. I think that was really helpful and I’m not sure if I’d have gotten back to art so early on, in my 20s, had it not been for the fact I’d had those 2 extra years doing it daily/weekly.

  29. Jane on July 26, 2023 at 3:54 pm

    I was interested in learning watercolors in my early 30’s, but my first husband reminded me that I did not know how to draw, and that it was ridiculous for me to think that I could ever paint. But the desire was always there. He died when I was 57, and I remarried 2 1/2 years later to a man who thought that I could do EVERYTHING. I wrote and self-published a book that won my state’s award for Best Inspiration Book. And he said to me, “I’ve never been married to an author before. What next, babe?” And is just dabbled in all kinds of things and bought some watercolor pencils at 75% off and began my art journey in 2019. When COVID hit, I began doing YouTube tutorials, and I continue to learn. My sweet husband now has a rare neurological disease, but still encourages my art.

    • Robyn on July 26, 2023 at 10:42 pm

      Jane, what a beautiful man–and a wonderful love story.

    • Anna Mason on August 1, 2023 at 8:56 pm

      I’m sorry to hear about your husband’s health problem Jane and wish him all the best. What a wonderful cheerleader he has been for you. We all need those. My husband Phil is the same for me. And I’m so pleased you’re making art now.

  30. Celine McEwam on July 26, 2023 at 6:39 pm

    My father was a beautiful, talented artist in all mediums. He preferred oil. I have several of his paintings hanging in my home. Growing up with that as the norm and the standard, I knew I couldn’t do the same even though I wanted to, so I never tried. I also was never supported by either parent to try. Not until I was 64, that I decided to discovery what I could do particularly in watercolors. I found that I am not as bad as I thought I would be but also not as good as I could be. I did get a wonderful sense of color from my father which I use painting or choosing fabrics for quilts. Art manifests in different forms.

    • Anna Mason on August 1, 2023 at 9:01 pm

      Hi Celine, that sounds like a missed opportunity for your Dad to have shared his passion with you. I’m sorry you experienced that. But pleased that you’re able to connect with art now. And that’s lovely that you have his honed visual sense.

  31. Peter on July 26, 2023 at 8:01 pm

    You are so right about the strange nature of art education. I learn’t nothing at art art school beyond a way of thinking about art. Here is a space to work in get on with it is ludicrous. That is why I have been so delighted to discover your courses, actually learning skills is such a buzz.

    • Anna Mason on August 1, 2023 at 9:02 pm

      Thanks Peter, I’m glad you’re enjoying developing your skills so much!

  32. Wendy on July 26, 2023 at 9:19 pm

    Wow, these stories are so sad. My heart goes out to everyone who has been hurt in this way. My story is painful as well, and it changed the course of my life making art.. My father was absolutely against me going to art school. My parents discouraged me every way they could, my mother told me I shouldn’t try to draw people because I was obviously not good enough; and kept insisting I needed to go to college to learn something “practical” to support myself. As a result, I stopped drawing and ended up staying away from art for years. It was only when my husband and I went to Maui for our honeymoon that we stopped in some galleries, and looking at all that amazing art made me say, “I could do that!” Well, no, not yet, and not to that extent, but with my husband encouraging me, I started to paint. I firmly believe there are just mean people out there, (or in our own families), who are miserable themselves, and want everyone around them to be miserable as well. Maybe they had an art scar themselves, so they want to be sure that you experience it, too. It sometimes takes a long time to see these memories objectively, but when you do, and realize that they’re just wrong, you can be free to make art and tell everyone who says you can’t to take a hike. Thanks for writing about this topic, Anna.

    • Anna Mason on August 1, 2023 at 9:04 pm

      Well said Wendy. I’m sure you’re right about people’s motivations. I’m glad you got the cheerleader you needed in your husband. And that you’re making art now!

  33. Robyn on July 26, 2023 at 10:40 pm

    Just amazing how many of these stories are so similar!
    My first creative block happened when I was about 7 yrs old. We had a set of Life Encyclopedias in the living room, and I used to enjoy trying to re-create the images free-hand. One day I drew DaVinci’s Vitruvian Man, and it turned out so well that I decided to show my father. Now, I had no concept of this as a “naked” picture–it was just a picture to me, nudity was not an issue in our house. Suddenly my usually supportive father was calling me “Evil” and asking “what the hell is was doing.” I had no idea what had upset him. It wasn’t until years later when a more mature self began to understand that where I saw” art”, my father saw “nude man”. When I was in my 20’s I took a class in Interior Design. One of the lessons was to draw a room in our house, complete with furniture. It was the first time I had drawn since that incident.
    To this day I tell people I can’t sing, I won’t sing unless it is just me and the cat. I took a singing class in 7th grade; we would go through all the voice exercises and sing solos in class so the teacher could follow our progress. Everything was fine until we were having one of those school shows. To begin with, my mother had not paid attention to the fact that I needed a dress, so at the last minute I had to wear my older sister’s dress with the bust area hanging at my waist. Then, up in front of all those people I forgot all the words to the songs. I figured it didn’t matter, no one could hear me anyway. After the show a friend made fun of me because she could tell my mouth wasn’t moving with the lyrics. I dropped the class the next day.
    Surprisingly, teachers–who are supposed to encourage us–are often the ones leaving the scars. in first grade my vocabulary was beyond that of the other kids, so the teacher would not let me compete in vocabulary games. The message I received was that I was not allowed to excel, and that other people were more important. Then, in high school I asked for clarification on a very long math problem, the teacher moved me back to the class I had passed the year before (at the top of the class). That instructor didn’t know what to do with me, he new I was ready to move on, but instead I just gave up any further math classes. To this day I have never gone beyond basic Algebra.

    • Anna Mason on August 1, 2023 at 9:07 pm

      Oh gosh Robyn, lots of learning scars there. I’m so sorry you didn’t receive more support when you were younger and trying new things/ learning so much. I hope with you being here and part of our community that you’ve found your way back to creating lots.

  34. Amanda on July 27, 2023 at 3:30 am

    Thank you for sharing your stories 🙂
    Comparison is a dangerous thing. My scars were definitely related to sport, which I decided wasn’t for me. I turned to drawing, as it was the only thing I seemed to have a natural flare for. In fact, I was the one who was considered The Artist all through my primary school years. I used to win all the competitions, so much so that a friend of mine who was also artistic, begged me not to enter so she could have a chance. I liked my reputation though. I went to art college when I graduated and my expectations were high. I was knocked down a peg or two when suddenly I was an Average Joe surrounded by talented artists! My fragile ego struggled with this quite a lot because I always thought success would land in my lap. And when I failed a unit of Illustration, I really started to question my talent.. I worked in the graphic design industry for a very short time, but got no support as a graduate and ended up losing my job. I took it to heart and avoided art for a long time. I am finally starring to dabble again, thanks to your course Anna. But this time for pleasure. The creative side can’t stay bottled up forever. Oh, and that friend who begged me not to enter competitions is a successful artist 🙂

    • Anna Mason on August 1, 2023 at 9:10 pm

      Oh Amanda, comparison is brutal. It must have been a horrible experience to feel that way at art college. I wonder if I would have felt the same. I’m pleased you’re back to creating art for pleasure. Who knows what will come of it, just keep enjoying it.

  35. Glenda Velji on July 27, 2023 at 3:50 am

    I loved to draw and doodle as a child. my favourite subjects were monkeys, and my cats!
    I doodled in school when I should have been doing math, but I couldn’t stop! I sat next to a boy in grade 5 who was an amazing artist, and I learned as much as I could from him.
    in grade 7, I was in my Art class, with a teacher who was friends with my Mom ( a teacher at the same school). I was seated next to a girl with porcelain skin and long beautiful red hair…and an Exceptional Artist!!
    I took one look at her abilities, and thought, there’s no way I could ever do that…sadly, my art teacher agreed and discouraged me from continuing drawing, doodling and painting.
    Thankfully, after 45 years, I have decided to pursue my passion of watercolour painting, and I have you, among others, to thank!!!

    • Anna Mason on August 1, 2023 at 9:11 pm

      I’m glad you found your way back to it Glenda!

  36. Lori Caldwell on July 27, 2023 at 1:16 pm

    In my family growing up I was told no one on our family is artistic – including me was implied. I grew up in a very small farming community and art instruction was non-existent in our schools. I expressed myself artistically through music in school and church but always felt stifled when it came to drawing or painting. I remember trying to paint some Christmas ornaments one year out of a kit and my mom wouldn’t hang them on the tree because they were so bad. When I became a mom I tried very hard not to discourage any artistic endeavor. I bought any art supply requested or I thought might be interesting to try. My only daughter showed an interest from a really young age and I did everything I could to keep her interests and experimentations going. In high school she took every art class offered and won a state prize for a multi media project she did that I still have proudly displayed on my dining room wall. She got an art degree in graphic design and today at age 30 she has a successful online business doing custom wedding stationery and other products. I’m so proud of her – and a little jealous. During the pandemic I started trying to learn the art skills that I never learned as a child. Thank you for the encouragement to learn and be creative at any age.

    • Anna Mason on August 1, 2023 at 9:14 pm

      You sounds like a wonderful mum Lori. And I’m sorry to hear that you missed out on that encouragement yourself. You’re making up for lost time now though and I hope you are able to make lots of time to do it now for yourself. I’m sure your daughter will be cheering you on too.

  37. Petro Farr on July 27, 2023 at 2:21 pm

    My comment is more about what our daughter as an art teacher experienced in the Primary school that she was teaching. This was right at the beginning of her year at this school. At the end of term, the 4art teachers got together to decide which children’s art would be exhibited in the school hall. Every teacher had to choose few works of which the theme was chickens and then there would be another elimination of those works and the best five would be chosen. To my daughter’s amazement her choices was completely different to those of the other teachers. They almost choose the same works. When they asked her why she chose the particular sketches she, with indignation replied: These kids were in touch with their inner chicken. She never fitted in at that school with her ideas of teaching art.

    • Anna Mason on August 1, 2023 at 9:15 pm

      That’s a good story Petro and a good example of how art really is so subjective. Your daughter sounds like a fun teacher!

  38. Janice Giles on July 27, 2023 at 3:20 pm

    My mother convinced me that I was not good in art. I loved to draw as a child, but Mom had something critical to say about every drawing—need more shading here, this part is wrong, etc. Consequently, I never took art in high school or college because I felt I had no talent. I still struggle with that feeling even though I can see it isn’t true. The negative lessons we learn in childhood are hard to let go of, but I am trying!

    • Anna Mason on July 28, 2023 at 11:21 am

      Especially when they come from our parents Janice. I hope you know that your mum’s behaviour will have been about how she was feeling and now really about you – even though that’s NOT how it would have felt. Be the cheerleader for yourself that you missed out on from your mum. Wishing you all the best.

  39. Franny on July 27, 2023 at 3:27 pm

    As a child, I was always labeled as “the artist” in our family. I loved painting and drawing, but that label put a lot of pressure on me to always excel in art. Sadly, my father passed away when I was 12 years old, and as a reaction to suddenly not having a strong disciplinarian in my life, by the time I was in high school, I was barely attending my classes.. I still thought of myself as “an artist”, and just assumed I would be accepted into the art college I wanted to attend. So I put little effort into a portfolio, and was not accepted. This was such a shock, I don’t think I ever got over it. I went to another art college, and one of my first classes was “life painting”.. I had so little self confidence in my artistic skills, that I was almost afraid to paint, or ask for help with learning to use oil paint. The teacher walked around the studio, and commented on each students work. When he got up to me, he yelled at me for not using the oil paint correctly, and my painting looked like a water color! I was not only devastated, but also scared to death to paint again. I never got over that feeling of being a failure, even though I am now 70 yrs old! It is still a struggle each time I start a new piece, but once started I can totally lose myself and enjoy it. And no matter how much success I achieve, I still struggle with these feelings.

    • Anna Mason on July 28, 2023 at 11:20 am

      Well done for not letting it stop you Franny. I recommend being very deliberate about speaking aloud to yourself when you feel the feelings pop up. Say something in a kind voice like ‘No one’s going to do what that teacher did to your artwork again. You’re free to paint whatever, and however you like and just have fun.’ It feels funny at first but if the hurt part can take it in just a little bit you will relax quicker.

      • Franny on July 30, 2023 at 8:27 pm

        Thanks for your advice! I am going to try it!!!!

  40. Katie McDonal on July 27, 2023 at 9:32 pm

    I remember at school when I must have been about 8 or 9 doing a crayon drawing of a snowy landscape with a tree . I said I had finished my picture and the teached grabbed watery paint and did a wash over the whole thing to “make it better” without even asking . I thought she had ruined it and remember being terribly upset.
    I was very fortunate to have been taken to see an Andrew Wyeth exhibition and was tying to capture his moody style.

    • Anna Mason on July 28, 2023 at 11:17 am

      Really sorry that happened Katie – I can’t imagine what the teacher was thinking to do that!

  41. Joyce on July 30, 2023 at 10:06 pm

    Coloring and drawing were my favorite childhood pastimes. My parents never encouraged my artistic (or musical endeavors) and when I got to university age was told I couldn’t pursue either one as a major since neither led to anything useful in adulthood. So I sadly chose a major which pleased them (but not me) and never used it after graduation. I have maintained both music and art as ‘hobbies’ throughout adulthood & continued random art lessons, playing the piano and singing in church choirs realizing that art and music enhanced life-not detracted from it. I always regretted that I was not allowed to follow my dreams though. I married and my husband bought a piano for me for our first wedding anniversary. When children arrived, I put aside painting for the artsy crafts & sewing projects I was able to do with my young daughters & bounced them on my knee as babies when I played piano..

    Then the pandemic came and in the fall of 2020 I found and I joined Anna’s online art school. The anonymity of joining your online school was a big factor in my taking the ‘plunge’. I relish the positive comments from everyone at Nature Studio and appreciate that I haven’t received a single ‘art scar’ from any of them! Now that I’ve gotten back to art he loves my paintings and wants to frame each one and hang in somewhere in the house.

    My life now is pretty good right now & my daughters are grown up. Life just took some detours along the way that made me quite unhappy at the time. Now I’m happy to be alive and grateful for my family and friends and so pleased to have found Anna’s Online Art School—I like to think of it as something good that came out of that first scary year of the pandemic.

    • Anna Mason on August 1, 2023 at 9:19 pm

      I’m so pleased to hear you’re creating now Joyce, and I’m delighted to have helped you with that. So often we’re easily influenced, and without the experience to be true to ourselves when we are younger. But you kept your creativity going which will have been a great example to your kids. And now you have the time and the skills to really make your inner artist happy!

  42. Barb L on July 31, 2023 at 10:17 pm

    Well thanks for ripping that scar(s) open! I have to constantly remind myself to ban thoughts of those experiences from my mind. One I was about to graduate from college, when an instructor, and I use this term loosely as I saw very little of him throughout the courses he was to lead, told me that I would never make it as an artist. He went on to list the reasons why, and honestly, I was devastated. Then I decided to lean on my graphic arts training, and after 3 months at this profession, I was let go of the position, not knowing why. It was at a later date, I found out that, I was let go so that the owner could hire a school mate of his, that had just become available. Had nothing to do with my abilities or talent. I went on to work in sales and accounting for my career of 40 years. I am now retired. In hindsight I often wonder, had the road been different, where would I be now. Did I give up to easily. Well, the instructor in college, I made a scene in front of several students, and got applause for my statements to him that day. I needed to believe in myself, not one person, but he planted a seed.

    I continued to learn the technology changes in graphic arts and have even done well as a graphic artist doing community work as needed. I have come to realize that it is up to me to believe and to put in the work. Art can be something enjoyed for oneself. I’m learning every day and finding myself in art and will continue.

    In another little antidote, my father asked me what I would be studying in college, and I replied…….art, he asked Art who? It took me 14 years later, but I did marry Art in the end. We will have been together for 30 years this coming year. Art is impressed with my journey in painting and marvels at what took me so long to pick up the brushes again.

    • Anna Mason on August 1, 2023 at 9:26 pm

      Barb I’m so happy to hear you’re creating for yourself after that horrible experience with that horrible instructor. I’m glad you didn’t take his comments lying down, but it was clearly scar inducing. Your attitude to keep finding yourself in art each day is great. And your Art sounds lovely too. You’ve done brilliantly!

  43. Eileen on August 3, 2023 at 11:43 pm

    In second grade (7 years old) I painted a little duck. A classmate accidently spilled black paint on my picture. I painted the duck in a mud puddle and splattered a bit more black on the duck. I thought he looked quite jaunty, but the teacher said I ruined it. I didn’t tell her I was rescuing the picture. But I liked him so I wasn’t really scarred. Not sure why it stuck with me. I am my own worse critic.

  44. Corina Thompson on August 14, 2023 at 6:16 am

    My high school art teacher told me that I would never be any good at art because I couldn’t draw from my imagination. The topic was to paint a landscape of a planet and I got a really poor mark along with her comment. She didn’t credit me with any talent since I could only copy from a book, a real example or a photo. I stopped art in year 8 and concentrated on music instead for my creative outlet. How happy I am to be gaining pleasure from my art again and sharing my love of drawing and painting with my students and helping them to be confident about their sbilities.

  45. Cathie Horrell on October 18, 2023 at 12:09 am

    I remember opening the new square box of crayons in kindergarten. I was so excited, but the nun told me to wait…. a few years passed and in art class we were told to draw a picture of the snow. I looked out the window and did my painting of the snow as I saw it. When the nun came around, she looked at it and took it away from me, and I think she ripped it up, saying ‘there is no such thing as blue snow.’ It took me until I was in my thirties for someone to encourage me to draw and paint and go to art school. Which I did.
    And, yes there is such a thing as blue snow.

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