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Are You Creative?

While recently writing a newsletter article that discussed the meaning of “art” and “creativity” I discovered the tug of war that occurs when you try to actually “define” what is ART. Based on our own experiences, we might define art as painting, dancing, playing an instrument, designing a dress or building a castle. Recognizing that art is every one of these things and cannot be described by a mere sentence or phrase, illustrates its scope. Art influences us in the way we stack our books, cook our meals, pick the color of our cars, and dress ourselves every day. The creative way we set the table, fold the laundry, style our hair or apply our makeup expresses our desire to set order and display beauty. Simply put, this is art, and by participating in these small ways, we are “artists”. I remember when my daughter was in first grade and her teacher asked her what her parents did and she told the teacher her mother was an “artist”. When she told me what she had said, I remember that my face got really red and I told her not to tell anyone that I was an “artist” (because I saw artists as someone in a dirty apron that wore a beret that had studied in Europe with the great masters.) If I had thought about it at the time, I would have realized that my favorite artist, Norman Rockwell, wore glasses, smoked a pipe, did not wear an apron or beret and painted magazine covers. The way that we expressed, displayed, or were allowed to participate in art as a child, set us up in the way that we view ourselves as artful or creative. Teachers who allowed us to express ourselves by painting with our fingers and parents who put our work on the refrigerator to display to the world, gave us the confidence/discouragement we associate with our own creativity. As we got older we were either confirmed or denied in the way we expressed ourselves in the way we dressed, wore our hair, solved problems creatively or painted our bedrooms, further tapering the way we look at ourselves as artists. I cannot tell you the number of times I hear the “words, “I don’t have a creative bone in my body , and my response is, “of course not, it is in your mind! Did you ever tell a white lie to avoid going somewhere, arrange flowers in a vase, solve a problem, or concoct a dinner from your pantry? Each of these required some kind of creativity or artful thinking. No matter what category of art you engage in, it is art if it is meaningful to you, expresses a feeling or sets you free in your thinking. The problem we create is one of thinking that it has to be done in some kind of order or is not good without the approval of others. There have been times when I used a specific type of paint on a surface and found that they were not compatible but they created a different kind of technique. So, instead of following some kind of order or getting approval, I gain an experience and gave myself permission to succeed or fail. I love the process, the feeling I get when the colors mesh, the design comes together and I am lost in the zone. It makes me happy when people express their like/dislike with my work because at least I made them feel something. To begin your quest for creativity, exercise your mind by altering your everyday routine. Take a different path to work, use the food in your refrigerator to put together a lunch or snack, or reorganize your junk drawer. When you make little changes to the details in your life, your mind imagines the new scenario, and then begins to finds a way to accomplish the goal. You discover a number of ways to solve the same task and gain fresh mental stimulation. You don’t need a license or diploma to create something, find art in yourself everyday. Creativity grows like anything else, so have faith in it, embrace it, love it, shower it with attention and watch it grow.

There is a costume shop in our area that had repainted the exterior of the store. There are some unusual colors in the scheme, but what really caught my eye was this long curvy scroll that sort of outlined the shop name. At the time, I was trying to come up with a design that would decorate a purse for a magazine article that I was writing, so I came home and began to sketch scrolls. I not only created a design for the purse, I added a wallet, belt and a pair of shoes! I was totally inspired.

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