What is Creativity? - April 18, 2022

“I’m not creative…”

“But I can’t make art…”

“I’ll try but it won’t be very good..,”

These are all phrases I’ve heard from people over the years, whether it was a student in art class, a friend or relative, or an art therapy participant - it seems a lot of us don’t think we’re creative. I would like to challenge that idea! We are all creative in so many different ways. 

So, what exactly does it mean to be creative? What is the first thing you think of when you see that question? Many people will tell me that “to be creative” means to be skilled at making fine art, like painting a portrait. However, by definition, creativity is when something new and valuable is formed. That could be a physical object, like a painting, or it can be an idea like a new story plot.

Although, I may be creative with visual art, I don’t know the first thing about making music, or architecture, or dancing… yet, I know that those are all very creative endeavors. When someone plays a classical piano piece they are playing it as only they can, which makes it new and the joy it brings to listeners is valuable. Even more than artwork, people have a creative way of engaging with the world. When someone can calm a cranky child by making them laugh, that’s creative. Someone who can tell a story that makes you feel like you were there, that’s creative. A teacher that can get all the students in the classroom to pay attention to the lesson, that’s creative! 

Practicing Creativity

Some people are naturally drawn to a creative pursuit, like a child who constantly sings all day long; or a gardener who plants flowers knowing that when they bloom the colors will be beautiful together. It may appear as if they are born with a natural talent, while they may have been born with the inclination to that craft, they have also been honing their craft over time. Sometimes, when you find a creative pursuit that comes naturally, you find that the practice of getting better at that craft feels more like play. Creativity can take a lot of practice and that practice can be a lot of fun! We could all get better at a creative pursuit if we put the time in, but if it’s not fun then the work to get better feels more like a chore. For example, I learned all the chords to play acoustic guitar and I would practice every day. However, I learned that I really didn’t like playing guitar and would rather spend that time painting or drawing. Even though I could have gotten better at guitar with practice, I learned that it was not my way of personal expression. Trying new things can help you find a creative expression that fulfills you.

Personal Expression

Personally, as an artist, I have always created things as a way of expressing myself. So, when I think of creativity as personal expression then it opens up my perspective on how other people are creative. Think about the many ways you express yourself: through your clothing or hairstyle; the way you listen to others; how you design the space you live or work in; how you tell stories; how you take care of yourself and others… There are endless avenues of creative expression, so don’t be afraid to try something different - you might discover a new creative outlet that you love! 

Try This

Have you ever heard of Neurographic art? A term coined by Russian psychologist Pavel Piskarev that he describes the process as “a creative method of transforming the world”. There are no drawing skills required and no “right or wrong” way to do this art, so gather some art supplies (even paper and pencil works) and try this.

Here are the steps:

  1. Draw a scribble on your paper that loops and crosses over itself as many or as few times as you want.
  2. Next, round the angles every place the lines cross each other and fill in with your scribble line tool. (I used a black felt tip pen for mine)
  3. Then, fill in the spaces with color (or shading if you’re using a pencil - I used colored pencils to fill mine).
  4. Admire your creativity!

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