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A Return to Art as Play

An ode to making art for the fun of it


Happy July, everybody! I hope you are enjoying this swelteringly hot summer month! (Though I love summer, and the freedom it brings, I am definitely a winter gal- give me snow & turtlenecks, please, I am melting..) 


Of course, summer brings us fond memories of childhood, free from school and most commitments, where we spent our days splashing around in pools and making chalkboard art on driveways. These memories remind us of a time when we were exploding with creativity, when you would finger paint without caring what it looked like, when you would make up games to play with friends without pressuring yourself to have the best plot, and when you would make up dances to your favorite Miley Cyrus song, convinced you would be asked to star in her new music video and not caring if the dance had perfect technique before filming it on your parents' Skype camera. 

While we reminisce on the joys of being a child and creating simply to create, we remind ourselves that this concept is not entirely lost to us as adults; we have to remember that we can still play while creating art! If you are feeling lost as to how to get back to that blissfully unaware feeling, where creative expression was so easy & free, we here at Carolina Muse have some tips. 


One of the most agreed upon tips from our creative meeting this month was to try different art forms to get out of the mindset of perfectionism we all suffer from. So, if you are a poet, it may help you to go to Michael's, get a canvas & easel, some cheap paint, and finger paint for an afternoon while listening to some summer jams! If you are a visual artist, pick up your pen, go to a park, and try your hand at an end rhyme poem. If you are a dancer, head to your local pottery studio, get your hands dirty, and throw some pottery. The greatest part about this is that if you are terrible, it doesn't matter.

When it comes to self expression, we often see it as a portal into the most vulnerable parts of ourselves, so we artists tend to put immense pressure on our strongest art form in order to protect ourselves from outside criticism. But if we stop & remember that being perfect or good enough (though necessary for making a living, which is extremely valid) is not intrinsically linked to self-expression–they are not mutually exclusive!


We are often held back by this fear that we aren't good enough, that we have to be perfect to be a creator. And this can lead to creator's block, because of this pressure we put on ourselves where what we create has to be perfect. If we can remind ourselves of when we were little and self-expression came so quickly and without judgement, creativity may flow more easily from our veins. 


Personally, I did this recently with music. I am a cellist, and I was part of an orchestra before COVID. Unfortunately, the orchestra director was not the kindest, and for years I began to resent the cello and the stress I was under to be perfect for the director. Once COVID hit, I put my cello down and hardly ever picked it up, blocked & discouraged from playing like I used to. So, a few months ago, I decided to learn a new instrument from scratch to see if it would help me get back into it. I picked up the Irish fiddle, taking classes at NYC's Irish Arts Center. It was INCREDIBLE. I was so. humbled. Because it was a brand new instrument, I didn't put the pressure on myself that I had with cello, because I didn't have to be perfect! I found myself playing every day, messing around, learning songs by ear just for fun, and looking forward to class every week. And once my lessons ended for the semester, I found myself picking the cello back up and starting with more patience & love. 

So, I am a firm believer that we all need to be humbled some time. I mean, read any Greek tragedy, and they'll tell you the same! Hubris, hubris, hubris. If we can pick up an art form that we are unfamiliar with, that we don't pressure ourselves with, we may feel more confident in our talents, and we may open the floodgates and let the creativity roar out. 


So give it a shot! You never know what can happen :) 

And of course, while you are using the joys of the summer to explore new art forms, you should know that since our last newsletter, there are a few news updates to keep an eye out for:

  • Check out our newest issue!

  • Our next submission deadline is August 31st! Be sure to submit your work so you can be published in our next issue!

  • Don't forget, we have fun STICKERS, designed in-house!

    • Purchase one for $3, and each additional sticker is just $1! 

NC Events

  • Check out Montford Moppets Youth Shakespeare Company's production of Henry V in Asheville, NC, July 29- August 6th! 

  • There's a free dance party every Tuesday at A Step to Gold International Ballroom in Raleigh, NC beginning July 29th and going through August.

SC Events

  • Visit Greenville's August First Friday Art Crawl on August 5th from 6-9 PM, where 30 local artists will show their work accompanied with live music and complete with refreshments!   

  • Hit up Beyond Van Gogh: The Immersive Experience at the Charleston Convention Center starting Tuesday, August 2nd and going through September 4th for the immersive, multimedia, exhibition featuring the work of Vincent Van Gogh.



from our team

Ashley (collage).jpg
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Ashley Pratt


Annie Earnshaw


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