Why you should make art with other people

When I was in college, I got used to making art around other people. I was lucky to be in an environment that was not competitive, so if someone liked your art, they told you so.  We gave each other feedback, as well as getting feedback from our professors, all the time.

When I was out of school on my own, I felt totally un-anchored.  At first I felt very free. I could make whatever I wanted with out having to worry about anyone else seeing it.  But then I started to feel very unmotivated and out of it.  Why was I making any of this stuff, if no one was looking?  The image of the solitary artist or writer, slaving away on his or her own is not what I want for my creative life.  I want the community. I need the community of other creatives holding and inspiring each other.  That is one of my goals.

For the past 8 months I have been in a training program for expressive arts therapy.  We have really bonded, and there are only two more sessions left.  Once a month I have looked forward to this time devoted totally to my own creativity and self-exploration.  I cannot even begin to articulate the changes in my self-perception that have resulted.  I see myself, and the possibilities for what my life can be totally differently now.  I could never have done this on my own.  The safety, embrace, love, empathy, concern, honesty, acceptance, creativity, pain, and camaraderie of this group were an essential part of my growth.  Witnessing the changes that others have gone through, seeing their strength emerge, their excitement, it has all has been incredible.  Sharing in their pain and disappointments has been incredible too.  Being witnessed, really seen by others, and accepted, loved, has been a wonderful gift.  

The impending hole that the end of this program will leave in my life is motivating me to develop my own community with whom I can share what I have learned.  I want to continue to be a part of the energy that is churned up when a group of people comes together, creatively.

If you want more creativity in your life and find it hard to make time for it, or when you do have time you find yourself wasting it, sitting, wondering what to do with it, then try taking a class.  The energy we get from creative leaders and other classmates is impossible to create on our own.  But once we are in the habit of making that time for ourselves, it is easier to work in solitude, with purpose.

What do you think? Do you prefer making art in solitude, or is it hard to get started when you are by yourself? Share your thoughts below...