Faren Peterson is a visual artist and art therapist based in Colorado who is responsible for creating all of the illustrations and visual representations that you see as a student of my writing course, Unavoidable Writing. In this interview, I ask Faren about her relationship to avoidance, artistry, creativity, and what advice she has to offer to fellow creatives who may be avoiding their creative callings.

1. Art and you. What’s that story?

I have loved arts and crafts ever since I was a kid, but I didn’t have the confidence to say, ‘I want to be an artist.’ It was through trial and error in undergraduate studies of social work, travels, jobs, grad school, then corporate life that I finally returned to art again. Now I can say, ‘I am an artist.’
Art is what brings me back to my center. It is the way I express myself in the world, how I connect with others, how I give, and how I stay sane.
2. But you’re not only an artist.
No, I’m not! In addition to being an artist and entrepreneur, I’m also an art therapist.
3. Cool! Wait. What, exactly, is art therapy?
Art Therapy is a therapeutic technique with many theories and ways to encourage clients to embrace creativity for its proven therapeutic outcomes. There are two big ideas in art therapy: one, the art-as-therapy approach (the belief that art is necessarily therapeutic, which I fully believe in), and two, the art-as-metaphor approach (the belief that art is a tool to problem-solve and engage with clients, which tends to be most approved of in medical settings).
As a part-time counselor, I work with kids and teens using the art-as-metaphor approach, since art is such a great way to engage with this demographic. Even still, I am fully an advocate of art-as-therapy, and intend to continue to merge the two pieces of art and art-as-therapy throughout my life.
4. You created the visuals for Dave’s writing program, Unavoidable Writing. What was that like?
I REALLY enjoyed creating the visual art for Unavoidable Writing. The program resonated. I feel like it is important material to share with the world, and I see a lot of similar elements between Unavoidable Writing and art therapy, not to mention how the program speaks to my own experience as a visual artist on a creative journey.
My favorite aspect was creating the images for the Three Shadows of Writing, represented by human forms struggling with uncomfortable circumstances of feeling stuck, unexpressed, or writer’s blocked. Dave had me also create their “positive” counterparts, called the Three Promises of Writing, representing when we are feeling in balance, in harmony, and square in our truth.

I personally know how it feels to question my creativity and expressions as an artist. Being able to visually represent the creative journey in such a way with Dave felt cathartic. Is that the right word, cathartic? It feels right. I think everyone has moments where we are in both situations and continuing to work through the challenges will bring clarity.
5. What advice do you have for others who are avoiding their artistry?
I would suggest making your art because you want to for you. Make “ugly” art. Make art that doesn’t have to be perfect; doesn’t have to make sense; doesn’t need to be sold (or even shown) to anyone else.

For too long, I got stuck in the desire to sell my art. It just added resentment and a whole other level of stress to the creative process. Ultimately, I had to remember why I was creating: for my soul to feel free.

Make it only for YOU for a while, and the more you can stick to new, incremental daily and weekly habits, the more it will blossom. Choose a practice that works for you and stick with it for a period of time, whether that’s a few months, or a year, or whatever feels right to you.
I have really deeply re-committed to my visual art practice over the last two years in particular, and it has been the biggest learning period for growth in all directions.
6. When someone says “I am not creative,” how do you respond?
Creativity isn’t reserved for painting and drawing. It is the way we live. I am constantly observing (and feeling) that we are all creative, always. We create children, homes, gardens, meals, styles, spaces.

I read somewhere that we are all “creative” beings because our cells are continuously reproducing and creating.

Indeed, at our most innate level, I believe that we are all creative beings. Whether or not you feel like you are creative is a matter choice.
7. What are you hoping to share with the world?
I’m giddy about a new collaboration I’m doing to illustrate children’s books based on open, non-denominational spiritual principals, teaching kids how to understand that we are all part of the Universe, that we are energy, that we are all connected, and that each person is whole just as we are.

I really believe in teaching young kids the skills that I didn’t learn until later in life, and I think that we can all do a lot to help the next generations to learn and lead.

The images from my current “cosmic series” of paintings resonate with this book, in particular, and will likely be used in the book as background images. Speaking of which, my celestial series is coming to life right now. I’ve been working on it throughout 2018, and it’s finally ready to reveal itself to the world!
8. Where can we find your cosmic series?
Visit my website, StudioFaren.com, to check out my original art and art that has been created into original designs on products and accessories.
I can also be found on Instagram if you’d like to engage with me and share the journey, @studiofaren. As you’ll see, I am a huge fan of functional art. Why create just one painting, when that painting can become a new work of art as a pair of earrings or mug to spread more joy into your day? :)
Thank you, Faren!