It was brilliant to have a tutor who didn’t judge me on ‘skill’ but who taught me how to use all sorts of techniques, from charcoal to oil paints, pen and ink to watercolour and then to PLAY with them.
But more than that, it gave me a way to switch off. Losing myself in drawing, painting, mixing colours and creating something focused my mind and calmed me. Creating something made me proud, happy and confident, and those are very powerful feelings to someone who is feeling low.
Gradually I started talking to my friends about the classes and I revelled in having something positive to talk about. It’s great that friends check how you are when you’re low, really valuable, but after a while I felt like we’d never talked about anything other than my horrible luck and the way it was eating away at the good things in my life.
All these years on those anxious feelings I’m writing about from back then seem, thankfully, a long way away and life has moved on to better things. I can’t claim that I keep up with my sketchbook or my paints as regularly as I’d like, but I do dig them out every few months and play, especially when something’s bothering me or I need some ‘calm’. I’m ever grateful to the tutor from my evening class, who gave me such a different view on creativity to the one I’d been given at school. And, for me at least, there will always now be a link between creativity and looking after my wellbeing.