You might be surprised to hear this but, I’ve been told I’m a creative person (no, that’s not what’s surprising). Thing is, I find it very hard to believe it. I struggle with this “creativity” issue every day, my mind is often blank as I grope around in the dark trying to come up with ideas, designs or even something as simple as a color choice.
Often I find the need to create, but the seed that is required so that whatever it is I end up creating can sprout is missing. I wish this were a blog post about telling you how to find that missing link that will unlock your creativity, but it’s not. If you find a blog about that, let me know, cause I’d like to read it!
I don’t really know where creativity lies. I’m still dumbfounded when people tell me they’d like to have my talent. Most of the time my reaction is “Pfft, what talent?” You see, I have been known to doubt myself and prone to believe I don’t have any talent either. Well… “natural” talent that is. Maybe it’s weird of me, but I make a distinction between natural talent and hard earned talent. Some people are “born with it”. Some are not. I believe I’m in the “not” category. That’s not to say I wasn’t always artistically inclined, because I was, but it has never been something that came naturally or shall we say, easily, for me. I’ve always felt like I was a bit of a conundrum. I was certainly not left-brained (logic, reasoning, etc), I failed at match and logic escaped me most days. I was very much right-brained, passionate, stubborn, prone to act based on feelings, a day dreamer, a story-teller. Yet, I’ve never felt like I was “creative”. To this day I still have a very hard time coming up with ideas. I don’t feel like I think outside the box all that often and half the time when I look at my work I feel like it could be better.
I still wonder if there’s some secret to being creative. I still feel like there’s a part of me that is locked away and sometimes I am able to reach it but most of the time it’s hidden from me. I know many people feel that way too. I have to think, maybe I should stop trying to reach for this “creative” thing and just… do what comes, whatever it may be. Even if it sucks.
So that’s just what I did. See that mess up there, in that picture? That was me being creative. I had no ideas, no thoughts except one. I wanted to make more kanzashi but I didn’t know what to make or what colors to use, so my idea was thus: take sheets of the vellum paper I use for custom colored origami and kanzashi work and just spread watercolors on them however they came out. Let the paint do the talking, let the paint flow be the inspiration.
I was pleased with my first attempt, it was my favorite color combination (pink and purple tones, if you hadn’t noticed already) and flowed pretty much as I had pictured it. Cause here’s the thing, my mind is almost always blank when it comes to how I picture things, yet I AM a visual person. I picture everything, thoughts, things that people are talking about, descriptions, whatever, I see it all in my mind like a movie reel. Well, more like and old, damaged, burnt out movie reel. That’s where the blank part comes in. I see an image alright, but it’s blurry, or missing huge chunks. It’s like staring at objects without my glasses or contacts on, I can’t quite make out what they are supposed to be unless I get really close, except in this case, I can’t seem to get close no matter how hard I try. So it was quite the pleasant experience that my first attempt managed to bypass this, probably because, like I said, it was my favorite color combination, something I was familiar with.
My next attempts, though they may seem fine to others, did not come out for me. I could not get the colors flowing how I wanted them, or I just simply didn’t have an idea of how I wanted it to flow. Just letting the paint drip over the paper and go wherever wasn’t yielding results I was satisfied with. In the back of my mind I was thinking of the color suggestions friends had mentioned they liked, because I had asked them for input as I couldn’t come up with anything on my own. I kept thinking “I must make samples with these color tones as well” and instead of concentrating on just doing, I was concentrated on…. you guessed it, pleasing others. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. Like I mentioned, I had asked for input, and I’m glad I got it because if I hadn’t been trying to also use my friends’ suggestions, I never would have reached the point that led me to my next breakthrough in my attempts at “just letting go” and being “creative”.
Sometimes you really just have to let go and be impulsive. So I did just that. By this point my hands were covered in paint, partially due to me being a messy painter (I have a mess in my head, remember?) and partially due to one of my tubes breaking a few years ago and spreading paint all over the bag I kept the tubes in; so no matter what color tube I picked up, my hands would always also get stained with the color from the broken tube.
That’s just what I needed though. I dipped my hands in water and just spread them throughout the paper, my fingers spreading the paint as they went along. It felt liberating in a sense. Sure, by then I was a real mess but it was a creative mess. This is what I’ve come to realize. Creativity isn’t what society defines it as, or what other people may claim it is. It’s what you decide to make of it. Everyone struggles with creativity, even talented artists. A lot of times we have to look for other artists and mediums as inspirations. Sometimes though, we should be looking into ourselves. Do what you would do if you were without inhibitions, think and feel what you would if it didn’t matter what others thought of you. Do what you want, even if it feels crazy to other people. That, my friends, is what I believe creativity is.
I realize this was a bit of a long read, I thank you for sticking with me if you did! I’d like to know what’s creativity for you and how you deal with moments when you’re lacking any. You can post a reply to this blog entry or write your own blog, take a picture, tweet, whatever and link it here in the comments.
So, what’s creativity to you?