(Inspired by Rachel Norman’s Article titled “What’s the Difference between being Creative and Artistic”)
Growing up, we may never think much about art if we’ve convinced our selves, or someone else has convinced us, that we can’t draw, paint, sing, dance or fill in the blank with any art form we may have once aspired to. We’ve all known people who seem to effortlessly make art while we struggle to make stick figure drawings or hold a tune during a sing along. Many of us grow up thinking we’re just not creative or artistically inclined. We’ve never had anyone tell us that a person can be creative without being “artistic.” Or, rather, that we can be artistic without knowing proper technique or studying fine art.
If we think about it we can’t help but realize that we’re constantly creating things. We sew, take photos, garden, write or do multiple hands on projects around the house. Many of us aren’t experts or well skilled at any of these things, and yet, there’s something comforting and cathartic about the act of doing them. Even after we step back and look at the imperfections, perceived or real, we may sense satisfaction, perhaps pride, and even feel inspired to do more. Unfortunately life often has other plans and we put aside these pleasant feelings in our creative endeavors. They’re soon forgotten as we move on, perhaps feeling a little emptiness in that space where the experience of satisfaction once dwelled. We may find ourselves longing for more of that feeling we experienced. However we may need help getting it back again.
So just how do we define being creative or artistic? If we’re going to pursue something worthy of pursuit it often helps to define what that something is. Here are the definitions to help us do so.
Being Creative (adj): relating to or involving the use of the imagination or original ideas to make things. Having the ability or power to make things. To produce things physically or mentally. Being creative is often characterized by originality and imaginative expressiveness.
Being Artistic (adj): conforming to the standards of art by satisfying aesthetic requirements. Of or relating to art or artists. Being sensitive to or appreciative of art. Showing imagination through expressiveness.
Notice that the relationship between these two definitions overlap in two important aspects. They both involve the imagination and expressiveness. So let’s define these two terms.
Imagination (noun): The ability to form mental images of things that are not present to the physical senses. The emotional and mental creation of material and immaterial experiences. Our innermost thoughts at play.
Expressiveness (noun): The quality of presenting or sharing a subject with strength and conviction to the physical or emotional senses.
The fact is our minds are constantly creating imaginative mental images whether we’re awake or dreaming. Each of us experience countless creative thoughts every day. It’s when these thoughts manifest themself through our senses of sight, touch, hearing, smell and taste that they become physical reality and, for the purposes of this course, the raw material for our personal creative and artistic expression.
So with these definitions in mind let’s consider how they relate to this course and what we will want to keep in mind as we navigate its path:
1. Creating anything can be considered an act of art
One of the most important things we can do to transform our thoughts into art is to cultivate an emotional and physical environment where we allow ourselves the freedom to discover where our interests and talents truly lay. Creativity simply defined is the act of physically making something from our thoughts. Creativity takes place and art happens when we transform our imagination into physical action. Art then is simply the act of expressing our thoughts and imagination by creating something physically .
2. Just because you can’t draw doesn’t mean you’re not an artist
I’m convinced that each of us has the ability to cultivate talents that are both familiar and foreign to us. Like learning any new language, learning the language of a new artistic form can help build not only our creative skill but our creative confidence as well. Humans are born to cultivate creativity within themselves. This may seem scary or even impossible if you’ve been persuaded to believe that you aren’t creative or artistic. There are no rules to a person’s creative and artistic expression. Art is whatever you desire to make it with your own imagination.
You might feel that an artist is a rare individual who is an expert in creativity. However, if we narrow our definition of what it means to be an artist in this way, we risk missing out on the amazing opportunity to appreciate and participate in the bigger world of art. By allowing ourselves the opportunity to notice and engage other people’s contributions to creativity and art we expand our understanding of what it means to be creative and begin to build our personal definition of art and what it means to be an artist in our own right.
Have you ever found yourself passing by a pop up art exhibit, a gallery window or perhaps a roadside chain saw carver or metal sculptor without stopping to look? Why? If we do stop we often find ourselves fascinated and enchanted by the experience. The work is creative, often fun and interesting and it begs a reaction from us, whether good or bad, which in the end qualifies it as art. Art doesn’t have to be great or even good to interest us. It just has to make us think and feel either physically or, more importantly, emotionally.
3. The physical output isn’t so important as the emotional result
If you’ve been taught that coloring outside the lines or building things that don’t make sense to others isn’t the way to do things you’re not alone. People who’ve experienced the public educational system in our country have often been taught to believe that there is a correct way to be creative and make art. I don’t believe this has been maliciously intentional but rather the result of a process designed to make teaching art classes easier for educators. I do believe, however, that for far too long we’ve fostered an unhealthy obsession in our culture with a fear of making mistakes. Forced or coerced conformance to someone else’s accepted ways of doing things inhibits creativity and is counter productive to personal and social growth. This has led to many individuals being discouraged from appreciating and engaging in creative and artistic self expression.
I feel creativity is mentally, physically, socially and spiritually enriching and therefore we must give ourselves both the permission and space to be creative if we are to achieve balance in our lives. It’s helpful to understand that the result isn’t nearly as important as the process of exercising creativity. This is evidenced by the fact that we often feel better once we exercise our personal ability to think and make creatively no matter what, if, or even how the results may be received by others. The only outcome that has lasting importance is that feeling we experience at the completion of a personal creative process. Give yourself permission to just do your own thing without fear of failure or a perceived inability to do art the “right way.” To often people don’t give much thought to being creative because they’ve never allowed themselves to experience the emotional release that comes with exercising the art of life through art in their own way, unattached from outside critical opinion. We are all every day artists if we simply permit ourselves to be.
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