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Art and Your Own Creativity

When I hear the phrase “I don’t have an artistic bone in my body”, I can’t draw a stick figure or I can’t draw a straight line, it makes me wonder “What do you think art/creativity is?” I recently asked my husband if he saw himself as creative and he answered “yes”, but when I asked him if he was an “artist” he said “no”. We were dining at a sort of western style restaurant at the time and he explained. “If I look at that wooden bench, I see it for its function, when you look at it (meaning me, the “artist”) you think about how you can change it”. This was interesting to me and I wanted to take it one step further, so I said that I thought when he looked at it, he would see the type of wood it was made of, if it was assembled in tongue and groove and the tools it took to make it, and he agreed. I then asked him to define art and creativity. He said that art is a flow that is based on the creator and creativity was the method and steps to application. In my “Programmer” husband’s case, his job requires that he solve problems with computer code and uses a very methodical approach to create a solution. In his spare time, he is an accomplished woodworker and furniture designer, but if you ask him if he is an artist, he answers “no!” My own experiences have me reversing his definitions as I see art as the method and process and creativity as way to change or express it. Knowing that everyone’s definition of art is based on their personal experiences, let’s look at how the dictionary defines it.

  • The word “ART” is defined as “the quality, production, expression, or realm, according to aesthetic principles, of what is beautiful, appealing, or of more than ordinary significance” and also as “ a field, genre, or category of art: Dance is an art.”

Most interpret art as fields, like singing, writing, acting, or in categories like dancing, playing a musical instrument, painting, etc., instead of as an expression of what is beautiful or significant so they instantly say “I am not an artist”.

  • Creativity is “ the ability to transcend traditional ideas, rules, patterns, relationships, or the like, and to create meaningful new ideas, forms, methods, interpretations, etc.; originality, progressiveness, or imagination: “

After reading these definitions, I think I would have to define myself as a “creatist” because I use my imagination to create meaningful new ideas, patterns, and just happen to express them with a paintbrush, or a glue stick or frying pan. We don’t create because someone tells us to; we do it because something inside makes us do it. One of the myths of art is that we must have an endless supply of ideas and confidence in order to create, but I don’t know one single “creatist” that has not experienced that frozen feeling that comes with the blank page/canvas. When this occurs, I tell myself that it is just a piece of canvas for heaven’s sake; you can just paint over it. One instructor tells his students, “"The first painting doesn't count,". He says “this always gets a few laughs, because we then recognize how important the painting has already become — even before we've begun.” My real definition of art is simply how you express yourself as you live your life and share with others or as self expression without editing. What I like best about creativity is that it has no boundaries. It can be expressed in moments, experiences, friendships, emotions and knowledge, so the tricky part can be defining your creativity. Recognizing your own participation in creativity is the first step. First, let shift your perceptions-this is kind of like when you bought your first car and then realized that everyone around you drove that same model, in the same color, with the same interior. Being aware of how creativity surrounds you is the first step. Recognizing little “creative instances” in yourself will show you that being creative is something that we all possess in lots of ways. Let’s try a little exercise to help us recognize personal expression:

  • Have you ever written/drawn on a steamed up window or mirror?

  • Asked for your coffee with a little added cream or flavoring?

  • Baked a cookie or frosted a cupcake?

  • Downloaded and edited a picture on the computer?

  • Placed fruit in a bowl?

  • Organized your closet by color?

  • Planted flowers in a pot?

  • Cooked a special meal or set a table?

  • Wrapped a present, sent flowers or a card to a sick friend?

  • Played an instrument or tapped out the beat with a spoon or “air drum”?

  • Made up a game to play in the car to keep from being bored?

  • Imagined what the person on the other end of the phone or email looked like in person?

  • Tried to get a child to eat a vegetable or take a nap?

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