When I was in high school my HSC final art work was a giant artistic chocolate wheel. It was a mish mash of carpentry and drawing skills. One quarter was layered with pictures of me as a child, another was my grandmother. I can't remember who else was on it. I'm sure there was a deep reason behind it, but it's been lost in the cheese holes of my mind.
What I do remember is how much I loved drawing. I remember copying the lines of my grandmother's face, sketching in shadows almost without thought. Standing back and surprising myself at the likeness I had created.
My art teacher didn't think much of it. I didn't have enough of a thought process behind it, she didn't think it was very good. And so I didn't think it was very good and in the end I stopped drawing.
Art, drawing, writing, these all became frivolous pursuits. If I wasn't any good at it, if I wasn't going to make a career out of it, why bother?
Creativity isn't about being a tortured artist
Anna Kellerman is an art therapist and founder of Mama Creatives.
She says creativity covers much more than producing a painting or writing a play.
Creativity is what children do that they enjoy, and they continue doing it at their own volition. I think what happens is when we grow up we forget to find that joy.
Listen to Anna on Kinderling Conversation:
The other part to creativity is it's creating something from nothing. It is about taking an idea and executing that into an action.
By that definition your creativity might be baking a cake, designing a science project or knitting a jumper.
You don't need to create something worthy of an exhibition.
Creativity is essential to our sense of well being
Dr Brene Brown is a research professor at the University of Houston. Her TED talk The Power of Vulnerability has over 35 million views. Her work focuses on courage, vulnerability, shame and empathy. She's also written several best-selling books.
In her research Brene has discovered that creativity is an essential component of living contented, fulfilling lives.
She says we're all inherently creative, it's just some of us express it, and some of us don't.
Unused creativity isn't benign. It lives within us until it's expressed, neglected to death, or suffocated by resentment and fear.
Creativity is a way of being, it's not about what you produce
Being creative taps in to our humanity, into our spirit. When we allow ourselves to be creative, we reconnect with something that is unique about who we are. Not what we do for work, or who we are as a mother, sister, wife or lover.
Once you become a parent, it can be very easy to lose your sense of self. Anna founded Mama Creatives to help women reconnect with their sense of self through creativity.
Creativity is something that was yours, something that you've always had. It can't be taken away from you, but if you allow that to be sacrificed you do lose a sense of self. When you reach a certain age you re-prioritise your life purpose. You wonder what you want to do. Creativity can give you a natural path. If you just allow yourself some downtime it can help you find the way.
Maybe it's about making space to simply be
Since having children my every moment is measured out in things I can get done. Time feels limited and every minute counts.
Being creative means carving out space to simply be. It's not about ticking off the washing, the cleaning or school lunches. It might be immersing yourself in a painting, writing a poem, baking a cake or planting some seeds. Slow, creative time that gives more space for reflection.
It's about losing yourself in something that brings you joy.
When I look at creativity that way it's not so easy to dismiss. I can see the benefits of drawing (for example) even if it's for my eyes alone.
Perhaps it's time I picked up my pencils again.
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