“I can’t draw a stick figure.”
Nope, you’re not the only one who says this. Not by a long shot. In fact, as someone who has been teaching art classes and workshops for a while now, I can tell you that almost everyone I work with says this or something like it. But guess what? It doesn’t matter. What matters is getting you back in touch with your creativity, and that’s what I’m going to help you do all the new year long via this new column.
“As we age, there are fewer opportunities to play and practice creativity. In order to keep this garden growing, we need to tend it.”
Honest to goodness, it’s my mission, dare I say my goal in life, to remind (convince?) everyone that we are born with creativity inside us. Sadly, we lose touch with it for a variety of reasons, but we can get back in touch with it.
Don’t think of creativity as something you either have or don’t have. Don’t think of creativity as only the ability to paint realistic landscapes or compose and play symphonies. Think of it as open-mindedness, trying new things and solving problems in new ways. I believe that humans are born with imagination. As children, we explore it through open-ended toys and activities that are presented to us—Play Doh, LEGOS, crayons, blocks, cars, dolls, drums—the list is long! But as we age, sometimes there are fewer opportunities to play and practice creativity. In order to keep this garden growing, we need to tend it.
Throughout our school years, we are taught that there is a right and wrong way to do things. Words need to be spelled a certain way. Two plus two always equals four. There are fewer crayons to be found and not a lot of time afforded in busy schedules and curricula for open-ended thinking. As teens, conformity creeps in as we want to fit in with the crowd. Even society teaches us that careers in the arts are not wise pursuits as they don’t pay well. The imagination is batted out of us from many different angles.
So, dear adults, don’t be so hard on yourselves. Don’t keep telling yourself that you are not creative and putting that negative self-talk out there in the Universe. You only get back what you put out. And, y’all know our kids are listening. We don’t want to raise yet another generation of people who let go of their imaginations.
You can get it back. Think about creativity as a vehicle of self-expression. Exercise the muscle in whatever ways feel interesting to you. Perhaps broaden your definition. Your creativity can be in the way you cook a meal or the way you put an outfit together. Pull up some singers or songs you aren’t familiar with and take a listen. Browse a thrift shop. You don’t have to have to master the guitar, but you can take a lesson. You aren’t Michelangelo, but you can sure as heck buy a sketch pad and some colored pencils. And hey, what’s wrong with stick figures anyway!? Have fun with it. Draw a whole stick figure party!
I’ll be back next month and every month with simple projects aimed at helping you get those creative juices flowing again. Cheers to a new year in which we get our crayons back!