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“I don’t have a creative bone in my body!”...

Updated: Jul 31, 2023

July 2023 blog

(work done by someone in my Creative Workshop in May)

Why is being creative important to us?

I would love this to be read by someone who says “I don’t have a creative bone in my body!”.. of which I hear very often!

I would love to open up the conversation for people to realise they are creative people by very essence of being human. If we are using a yardstick to measure creativity (which is often confused with technical ability) by using a masterpiece done by someone famous like Van Gogh or Rembrandt to measure against - then obviously the majority of us are going to say "FAIL"… but that yardstick is completely wrong.

You created today!.. when you got out of bed. You made breakfast! It may seem simple but every act of life can be seen as a creative act. You chose what clothes to wear, you put your makeup on maybe?… you admired your garden., you played a song on your phone. You smiled at someone on the way to work… you have created things, maybe a space, an atmosphere, a product - without you, that thing would not be!

Yes, we can then expand that to what people typically would call creativity : a painting, a piece of clay work, a poem, a piece of music.. a story… but we all are creating every day of our lives by essence of being alive..

What if we chucked the Comparison yardstick and just DID?... Just created without the thought of it having to look like someone else’s work to be seen as valid?

When you take those restraints off - you get a much nicer place to create in. It is not saying you take off every barrier and restraint - as that also causes stress… Children especially need a boundary in which to explore... But I often say to people who might think I am saying "ye just splash paint everywhere - its doesn’t matter…" there ARE boundaries.. One obvious one is the EDGE of your paper is a boundary… what happens within that is the area of exploration - but the edge of your page creates a natural boundary. The painting will come to a stop at some point..

Children are often taught to “stay within the lines" on a colouring page. I can see there are motor skills that are invested in that and some cognitive behaviour which is useful. But I often wonder why one the the first things in a child’s creative life that is taught is to "stay in the lines"…

Why do we do that?

Interestingly, often when I have observed children doing art, I have been amazed that they didn’t need or want something to copy, they needed a few technical hints or advice for them to execute what is is their minds. 3 children with the same equipment and same blank page can create 3 totally different works, in different styles, with no or little instruction.

I will re-post this fascinating video about a Weaving school in Egypt. A professor believed that creativity was within every one, and they needed to have no other outside influence for them to create amazing things. It is a joy to watch this. Uneducated children , un exposed to other artists and artistic cultures - were producing beautiful, powerful work! It makes you ponder how art is taught in schools, ie copy this, copy that, and then you will all do the same kind of thing and are all being creative.. they are to a degree, But I often wonder what would happen in a school setting if the tools and techniques were offered in an atmosphere of un comparison..?

The Egyptian School of Tapestry was started by the late Ramses Wissa Wassef. He wanted to prove his idea that everyone has creativity in them. He took 11 year olds in a rural village, which had no arts or crafts in it, and invited them to learn to weave. These children learned this slow, demanding craft and produced amazing work.

He had 3 rules: 1) We do not show them any pictures for them to copy.

2)We do not discuss or show them any other forms of art

3)We do not criticise the children.

What does it look like to have Creativity in your life?

Doing something creative creates space/ rest /refreshment for our souls. It makes us look outside ourselves.

Focus on creation around you, We didn’t make it , we get to co - create with it (gardening is a great example of co creating, even if it includes battles with weeds!). We look at the sunset or sunrise and wonder, and yes copy or record it.. we get to daily wonder at beauty and growth..

Our souls need beauty, poetry, music. We need something to remind us of higher things.

When you DWELL in something, you “live there” - even if its for a moment.. or an hour..

If we never stop to ponder, we miss seeing something.

It also causes us to be MORE creative. It causes us to see strands or explosions of possibilities.

Maybe within a stitch mark, a brushstroke or some doodles. Or a snapshot you took of something inspiring. They can be a springboard to something else... to perhaps much bigger things than the original “acorn” of creativity you started with…

Even 5 minutes of creativity can serve a great purpose.. It can re-orientate you. It can set you on a solid ground again. Like an oasis in a dessert, or a calm within a storm.

Notice how you breathe when you stop to ponder and create… Notice your tension .. or peace…

Record creative thoughts. However rambling or small they may seem. You can revisit them at a moments notice. Why record and not simply store your ideas in your head? There is something cognitively powerful when you touch pen to paper… or finger to key board..or brush to canvas... it becomes more concrete and real. And it is one less thing to “have to store in your head!” It is safe on paper - more room to think. That's why a notebook or small sketchbook is so handy.

This video is a little walk through of a recent sketchbook I started.

I recently led a Creative Workshop on the theme of "Limitations" - using a limited palette of 2 colours plus black and white. (Above is an example of some of one woman's work) That class in itself was fascinating to see. I had a mixture of abilities in the group, some more advanced than others. Some in the group had had very little exposure to using a paint brush - they were a little scared and daunted by the prospect of creating anything! They however really enjoyed the process and produced some lovely work. Here is another example that people do not need to be exposed to the educational side of Art primarily, in order for them to create beautiful work. This session they had to play with 2 colours and see what effects they could get working in that boundary. They could add collage and text to their work. The boundary served for them to only focus on what they could make with those 2 colours, and they didn't get overwhelmed by having too many colour combinations to work with. As you can see some beautiful colour combinations appeared - and because they were taking from just 2 colour combinations - there was a natural harmony to the colours they produced.

Several found it really moving, they felt confident, they felt joyful, and taking the time to pause in their busy, challenging lives, was healing for them. I always do a debrief at end the of a session to see what people have learned and to explore how they are feeling about it using their own words...

What do you do to pause?

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