Grace's Creativity Story

This story is about bringing your creativity into all aspects of your home, but it is also a reminder that all art is subjective. Don't be disheartened if someone does not like you work, or if you feel your work does not match up to others, everyone is individual as is every piece of creative work and that's the beauty of it!

how to be creative story

I’d known Grace for some years. A teacher and singer, she worked with children in inner-city schools. Her work was stressful, but when she saved enough to buy her first home after a relationship break-up she felt incredibly proud that at last she had her own space. A two-bedroom apartment in a 1930s block overlooking a park, this was the place she could finally call her own. Except it never looked that way. “I just love this place!” she chirruped, pointing out the fantastic city view and the oak trees branching up toward the third-floor apartment. The interior reminded me of a temporary student pad, but I assumed that, over time, it would evolve to feel more homey. Grace wore stunning colors, so I was looking forward to seeing her creativity on the walls, too.

But the décor didn’t change. Year after year, the apartment always looked pretty much the same. Cream walls, paperwork covering the one table, a few snapshots stuck to the refrigerator. Grace had begun to buy some shelves and cabinets in order to store her belongings better, but these didn’t seem to change the feel of the interior.

Grace wanted a new relationship. A friend of mine, a feng shui consultant, recommended that she designate a section of the main room as a love corner, where she should display objects and pictures evoking love and togetherness—pink or red items, pictures of couples, and ornaments in pairs. So one afternoon we set about trying to find hearts or candles, or old romantic greetings cards. Instead, when rummaging behind the sofa, Grace retrieved a huge, dusty, black portfolio.

“What’s in there?” I asked.

“Oh that? It’s just my art stuff,” Grace sighed.

“Let’s have a look,” I said, and she spread out huge screen prints, collages, and abstract illustrations in the most amazing colors: deep purple, pillar-box red. It was like looking at the colors of a festival—they were so alive and brilliant.

“These are great, Grace. Did you do them?” I asked.

Grace had been an artist. She told me she had an art degree from a prestigious school. I’d known her for ten years and she’d never mentioned this.

“Why did you stop?” I asked.

“The tutor hated my work. I just knew I’d never be good enough for them … after all, such famous artists studied there and my work was nothing like theirs. I suppose I just gave up … I scraped through the degree, joined a student band, and that was that.”

Nothing in Grace’s flat gave any clue to her first love—painting. Because her creativity had not been nurtured by her tutor, she judged her work as not good enough and not worth doing.

“Perhaps you could frame one or two of these?” I suggested.

Two weeks later I returned, and two of Grace’s prints had been framed and hung on the walls. Next, she moved her piano keyboard into the main room, and began buying pieces of secondhand furniture, a vintage floor lamp, and some items for her love corner. Yet, in truth, the whole room became an homage to the things she loved: art and music. By showing her creativity openly, on the walls and in the furnishings of her home, Grace had certainly found a new relationship—with her old self.


This story has been extracted from How to Be Creative by Liz Dean.


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