The Unfinished Piece

Unfinished and unfired pots by the author

When I was young growing up in the ’60s my mother used to work with my uncle in our family’s fish shop in Pyrmont, Sydney and I used to have to go with her and my sister to work in my school holidays. We watched TV all day until we discovered the holiday art program at the local public school up the road.

Wow! Was this a discovery? This was my first art experience in structured classes separate from primary school where I could learn new things, explore art and craft materials, and enjoy the act of creating. Our first masterpiece was casting and drawing in plaster and using paint to accentuate the lines of the drawing. Using only simple materials of plaster, water, and an ice cream container to make the mould.

I also used to be so excited waiting for the mailman to come to my house in the inner city of Sydney. My mother was always supportive of my creative interest and had invested in a subscription of ‘The Golden Hands’ craft books. It was an exciting investment as I received each hard-bound volume every month and built up my art library.

As a curious young girl always wanting to explore and make things with my hands I was driven to achieve as many of the craft projects as I could every month from enamelling, making paper flowers, making paper, mosaics, weaving, printmaking, jewellery making, making bowls out of dough, sculptures and textile projects. I carefully looked at the illustration, followed the instructions, and completed a new craft piece with such pride and excitement and with such focus and drive.

I even got ambitious and became an early cultural entrepreneur making craft objects to sell for gifts to family, school friends, and my mother’s work friends. Nothing seemed to stop me from creating or even considering whether the product was any good. I just put it out there, people seemed to like them and bought them.

I then intensively dedicated myself to weekly pottery classes at a community arts centre in after-school classes and just got right into exploring the world of clay. It was my early signs that I wanted to be an artist and specifically a potter which later manifested in me actually going to art school after high school.

But what happens as we grow older? As a child we indulge in that sense of exploration, play, using all these senses, experiment, and create and feel so happy with ourselves that something, new or unique is made from raw materials. I loved that feeling and remember that well.

How can we rekindle those emotional experiences and delve deep into our memories to recall what made us feel excited and in awe when we created as a child?

As an adult, I get excited to still try many arts and creative processes and techniques through monthly workshops but I get distracted. I have a studio which I spasmodically use when it's not storing other things I accumulate and hoard and I have several unfinished pieces of mosaic birdbaths and unfired ceramic bowls and plates which I made a few years ago and a pottery kiln that needs to be connected. I still love collecting different kinds of paper and art materials for drawing, printmaking, and collecting numerous art books waiting for that moment to use them.

But I have to question myself why are there so many unfinished projects? Do all our filters come in to play as an adult, and the noise and inner critic start to dominate and so many questions arise such as “why bother, you’re not going to be good’ or “there are so many amazing artists making work out there that you’ll never be that good or marketable.” So you stop making art, work 9 to 5, hesitate, procrastinate, get distracted and fill your time with the busyness of other persuasions and you let things slide with your creativity.

I have to remind myself that my perspectives are unique unlike anybody else no matter how much I compare myself. In this insightful questioning, I realised that I do have things I want to share and communicate through my art, and despite many times you tell yourself it doesn’t matter, you can’t lie to yourself as that feeling and emotion to create continues to resurface time and time again. These pangs of creativity never leave you.

I now have my mojo back. I make commitments to myself to ensure that I do creative acts daily, practice self-care, and am back to journaling, artists dates, drawing, photography, and finding all sorts of small and large ways to bring more creative flow and creativity in my life. It has shifted, changed, and lifted my energy level and you feel abundantly creative productive again as time passes effortlessly.

However, I can only do this if I push away all those blocks and barriers the feelings of guilt, fear and judgment, and our human need for external approval. I now see myself and my creative practice as continuous positive growth and a work in progress as is being human.



Articles about creativity from the leading authorities in the field including neuroscience, psychology and creative leaders from all walks of life.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Dr. Cheryle Yin-Lo

Cheryle is the Director of Creative Traveller Enterprises and Creative Mentor who has designed workshops in Creative Mindmapping and Creative Vision Boards.