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Friday dispatch – on creativity

Sometimes back in April I came across this TED Talk – do something new for 30 days. Something that you’ve always wanted to do, but put off until “someday” (breaking news: someday is not a day of a week!). The idea appealed to me immediately, but I really couldn’t decide what is it that I could tackle. Then I came across a short documentary about Lisa Congdon. Somewhere half-way through this video she said something that really hit home for me. She said that if you are a creative personĀ  and you are not doing anything about that creativity there is a black hole in you. That’s how it was for her. And then one day (and she was over 30 when that happened) she started drawing. That triggered something and she started creating art prolifically. Over time, the hole went away. This was it. I have a black hole in me. It got smaller (WAY smaller) when I started to pursue photography seriously, but it’s still there. And I remembered that when I was a child I loved drawing. Loved. And I really want to go back to it. Immediately I got worried about “not being good enough” and just all kinds of negative thinking. Which led me to a few conclusions.

Something happened in school, I don’t know exactly how and when. It was probably a process. Namely, the education process. Art education in my primary school was… um, oh well, not that great. Not terrible either, but it was deadly serious, there was a certain way things were supposed to be done and if someone did it differently… oh well. Low marks were probably the least painful. Ridicule was much worst. Also, there was that very subtle message to pursue things you have a serious talent for. If you are not talented, if what you are making is just average stuff, just do enough to pass the class. I mean, nobody says that explicitly, but it’s there. But who the heck decides if you are “talented” or not? Your teacher? That’s just crazy. What if he or she is really into still life and your thing is comic books? I mean, nah, that’s ridiculous. A panel of people? Come on.

I think talent is a big, pompous and a rather meaningless word. “Gifted” doesn’t hold much water either. Nobody goes around handing out gifts like this. So how about if we just scrap this and replace it with “focus on something that you ENJOY doing”? That would relieve so much pressure. You wouldn’t have to do things “the right way”. You wouldn’t have to hold yourself to some crazy standard. You wouldn’t compare yourself to others. You’d just create and enjoy. Maybe show it to other people if you feel like it, but not looking for approval and accolades. But because you want to bring joy, meaning and inspiration to other human beings.

And it doesn’t stop there. I really, truly believer we are all artists. Yes, all. You too. Humans have the need to create. That need manifests differently for everyone. It’s not necessarily paint and brush, the cliche. It can be writing, composing music, photographing, drawing, of course. But it can also be cooking, gardening, decorating, sewing, crafting, cleaning & organizing, telling jokes, helping other people, playing with kids, pimping your bike/ car, coding websites, building a business… The list is practically endless.

Here is the thing. Renee Brown said something profound a couple of weeks ago in Chase Jarvis Live (I shared this before, but if you missed it last time, plese do yourself a favor and watch this interview here). She said there is no such thing as not creative people. We are all artists. And hear this: unused creativity is dangerous. It turns into grief, judgement and rage. She also said that creativity is the way things travel from the head to the heart to the hand. It facilitates learning. You know, how sometimes you learn something and you just cannot figure out a way to get it from your head into your life. How to live that lesson, how to incorporate it. Creativity is the muscle needed to do that.

Here are some of my drawings from the past week. For the first time in my life I’m showing something that I have drawn and I’m not looking for approval, for someone telling me “you are talented!”. I don’t care if these adhere to some “standard”. I just LOVE doing this. I literally feel something untangle in me when I draw.

Everything is done with Sakura Micron pens on smooth paper. The heads were colored by me and Ingrid with oil pastels.

 

So here is my plea to you. If there is something you’ve been dreaming about doing or used to do and enjoyed, but later decided you are not “talented” enough for doing- please start doing it. Please. You need it.

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