How painting a mural revived my artistic side

A student describes how getting back in touch with art felt like reclaiming a missing piece of her identity.


Some of my best childhood memories happened at my craft table, with my art supplies scattered everywhere and dots of paint covering the yellow wood. I was constantly buying crafting kits from Michaels, cutting and reusing paper scraps and making wallets out of duct tape. All of my free time was filled with crafting.

I credit my mom for my artistic side because I have always admired her work and crafting was something we had in common. She’s a very talented illustrator and painter who studied at Tyler School of Art, and I used to flip through her sketchbooks for inspiration when I couldn’t decide on my next project. 

However, as I started to get older, I began to drift away from my artistic hobbies as I became busier with school and preoccupied with social media when I got my first phone in sixth grade. My mom often asked me to paint or draw with her but I almost always declined. 

Looking at other peoples’ work, I realized that while I wasn’t bad at art, I wasn’t the best either, especially compared to my mom and some of my peers. I convinced myself to give up on art because I wasn’t as talented as them, even though I disliked myself for doing so. 

Although I missed being creative, my discouragement outweighed my passion. Eventually, the armoire where I kept my supplies slowly became empty, and my paint-stained craft table was replaced by nicer decor.

Despite slowly losing my passion for creativity, I signed up for an art elective during my first semester of high school because the art teacher, Mr. Gordon, was my older sister’s favorite and she said the classes were easy. The class was an elective, so most of the students were very talented.

Students’ magnificent paintings and drawings lined the walls, and it seemed like the people sitting near to me could be this generation’s version of Bob Ross. I was constantly comparing my art to others’, making me feel like I wasn’t good enough and ultimately forcing me to take another artistic hiatus for a couple of years.

During my sophomore and junior years, I hated when people would ask about my hobbies because I didn’t have an answer. I almost always replied, “Uh, I don’t know, I don’t really have any.” 

I wasn’t sure if I could still consider art my hobby. I wanted to because it was an important part of my childhood, but I’d almost completely given up on it. 

When I caught myself endlessly scrolling on my phone, I remembered being occupied by art as a child rather than just staring at a screen. I felt like a boring person for no longer having a specific interest and other activities, like sports or guitar, which never really stuck. Even so, art felt like something I had left behind.  

During my senior year, I was burned out, completed my required courses and wanted to take an easy class with minimal work outside of school. My best friend convinced me to take art classes with her as an easy senior-year elective. 

I was nervous I’d feel discouraged about my work again, yet I was eager to have a creative outlet, so I decided to give art another try.

I was already close with my teacher, Mr. Gordon, from my freshman-year art class and my friend was a frequent art student, so she and I were comfortable joking around with him. Our friendly relationship with him prompted him to select us for a senior project: painting a hallway mural. 

Painting the mural took more than three months. We painted a pop art-inspired piece that didn’t have any specific theme. It was just colorful, bubbly and a lot of fun to paint. 

Every day we were in the hallway painting, our peers would walk by and comment on our progress. Teachers would thank us for brightening up the school, and we even let some friends contribute a couple of paint strokes. 

Hearing everyone’s positive feedback about the mural was heartwarming. I didn’t think people cared that much about it, and I was insecure about our work living up to expectations because the murals from the previous year were created by extremely talented students.

After the mural was done I was so proud of myself. I loved walking between classes and catching glimpses at the splashes of color above our lockers and watching other people peer up at our creation. 

The mural demonstrated the talent I didn’t realize I had, inspiring me to reconnect with and maintain my love for art. I stopped comparing my work to others’, and I realized how influential art has been in my life. It felt like I was finally finding myself again. 

Eventually, I began doodling flowers in my sketchbook and investing in good supplies to draw with. I dabble more in painting and digital art apps and I love to draw and color mandalas, which I also paint on a wall in my room at home. 

A lot of my work is incorporated into my personal spaces, like my ceramic pots I use to hold plants and makeup brushes. It reminds me of the role art has had in my life, and the role it will continue to have.

Getting back in touch with my artsy side has made me feel like I am leaving the boring, hobby-less version of myself behind and regaining my childhood self full of personality.

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