Christmas tree 2014
Paper Plate Christmas tree
Paper Plate snowflake
Christmas Light bulbs
Creating is a response to the gift of life. Rosalind Pinsent (from The Painter’s Keys)
There are all kinds of comments and opinions on Christmas trees that crop up every year about this time. Creativity is one example. A Christmas tree is a statement of creativity. That creativity comes in many forms. Some like to have a color-coordinated tree. Others are all about the lights. You name it and people have a creative expression with their trees. My tree is all about eclectic creativity. This year added some new examples.
I have never had a color coordinated or designer tree. I have an “artsy” tree. My tree has some childhood ornaments that I love, like the angel that got chewed on by the cat. One year I made a few elaborate ornaments. My first tree in my first apartment was done on a shoestring budget and decorated with cheap ribbon. I loved that ribbon tree! This year four very special little girls decorated my tree and added their own creativity to the mix.
Looking at my tree this year has made me want to celebrate creativity. This year adds a paper plate cut out Christmas tree and paper plate cut out snowflake, a light bulb with ribbon hanger, and two yard-ornament egrets brought in from the garage to become Christmas tree ornaments instead. The paper plate cut out Christmas tree hangs alongside a hand-tied bow from the ribbon tree. The light bulb ornament and paper plate snowflake are hung with some of the ribbon from that first tree. The egrets have a grouping of other items beneath them that I am not sure of the meaning of but love it. Each ornament is unique and special in its own way.
Christmas time is a time of being thankful for giving and receiving gifts. Creativity is a wonderful gift to be thankful for. A Christmas tree is evidence of that gift.
“Create we must, and respond to this dark hour.” Makoto Fujimura
The artistic process for many can be a compulsion, striving to express an idea, a thought, a feeling bubbling up from deep inside. The expression is often not consciously mulled over before erupting into reality. How much time is spent reflecting on the purpose of the churning creative urge before releasing the explosion? What if this flow of artistic need is consciously directed in such a way as to nourish the human heart?
Even in the midst of the direst of poverty, the soul seeks beauty. Anne Ciccoline of Creator, Created, Create and leader of Creative Communion, describes her trip to Nairobi where she was taken to Kibera, the largest urban slum in Africa. Anne was captivated at the sight of a mud hut with an entrance adorned with strips of fabric and a tin can planter with a green vine growing up the side of the hut. Anne says, “…no matter how primitive or impoverished our shelter, we strive to make it beautiful.” Beauty lightens darkness as nothing else can.
The human heart longs for beauty. Our darkest hours are brightened by the simplest of beautiful sights. When there is nothing else, there is still beauty. Artists have a gift. Are we seeking to use it in a way that demonstrates gratitude for the gift? What better expression of gratitude could there be than for artists to bring the longed for beauty to the hearts of others? Creating art to nourish the soul is a noble purpose, a goal worth pursuing. And that is a beautiful thing.
Mako Fujimura talks about his painting, “Golden Sea”
“Some people feel the rain. Others just get wet.” Bob Marley (from Skinnyartist.com)
At the first sign of raindrops splattering on the windowpanes, most people run for cover. Or they unfurl an umbrella and search for the nearest shelter hoping not to get too wet. Still others stay indoors and refuse to come out until the rain stops. What if, instead of running, seeking shelter or staying indoors, people looked up to the dark overcast, forbidding sky and followed Gene Kelly’s example, and began to sing and dance. Instead of running for cover, throw hands up to the sky and let the rain pound down. What if, when the rains pound down on creativity, creative people jumped up and started to dance and sing.
It’s inevitable that the creative spirit will get drowned by daily life at some time or other. How long the drowning lasts, depends on the circumstances. Creative people, like any other group, hunker down and ride out the storm, hoping it won’t wash away too much creativity at the same time. A choice is made to hunker down. Nobody is forced to run for cover or unfurl an umbrella. They just do it because nobody wants to get wet. When it’s raining on the creativity parade, artists console each other and say sweet little nothings like, “don’t worry, the rain can’t last for ever.” What if the rain does last forever? What then?
How about refusing to hunker down? How about leaving the umbrella behind? How about getting wet? Raining on creativity may be a signal that the artist has not being doing enough singing in the rain. The artist is so busy running for cover that the thought of stopping to sing and dance has never occurred. The next time the creativity parade gets rained on, turn toward the rain and check out what it feels like. Does it taste? Or smell? Tune in. It could be the rain is just watering the next creative idea. Jump in. Play Gene Kelly. And pity the souls who prefer to hunker down while artists are singing, dancing and a lot more than just getting wet. There’s no telling what creation may come from feeling the rain instead of running for cover.
Fun and amazing inventions inspired by the humble gecko and other small creatures. Nature is so amazing and always a great source of inspiration and information. Its fascinating to me to see how inventors come up with their ideas.
“Its important to keep the eccentric spirit alive, because when that goes, the work will go.” Nicolas Cage (from The Painter’s Keys)
Do all creative people have eccentricities that stimulate the creative juices? Some artists have elaborate routines they must go through before they can create. To others it may be as simple as always starting a painting with a particular brush, or drawing with a particular pencil. Some writers have the computer in a particular location or must always have a particular beverage at hand. The list could go on and on. Is this simple eccentricity or is it something more?
The website 99u.com has two recent articles (here and here) on the creative process and mundane routines. According to writer and professional creative coach, Mark McGuiness, these mundane routines are what actually may be the trigger for the creative juices to start flowing. McGuiness, a trained hypnotist, believes the routines artists go through before beginning work may be setting up what he calls a hypnotic trigger. The more often the artist performs the routine the more intense the trigger becomes. The articles give a number of examples from famous creative people, like Truman Capote and Ingmar Bergman.
Many people think of artistic types as just a little bit crazy likely because of a lack of understanding of the process of creativity. All those sly little remarks about artists and their eccentricities are obviously from people not “in the know.” Perhaps they should be enlightened. Better yet, keep it a secret. It adds to the idea of the artist’s mystique. Who doesn’t want a bit of the mystique hanging around? So crank up those eccentricities. The work just may depend on it.
“I never made one of my discoveries through the process of rational thinking.” Albert Einstein (from Goodreads.com)
Where, oh where is today’s creativity? Is creativity the new buzzword so mainstream it has lost its true meaning? A number of town criers are raising the alarm of an acute loss of innovation due to an epidemic of destructive or dying creativity. The community of artists, writers, musicians, photographers and other creative types are traditionally the keepers of creativity. Is it possible the keepers are letting innovative creativity sit around and get soft and flabby?
A number of writers have taken up the subject of The Death of Creativity in the last few years. In an article for FastCompany.com titled Death of Creativity=Death of Innovation, Kaihan Krippindorff laments the loss of innovation as the inevitable result of the lack of creativity. Krippindorff highlights an article that appeared in Newsweek in 2010 on the subject. Some alarming statistics are beginning to show up. According to both articles, creativity in the U.S. has already sharply dropped and does not appear to be slowing its decline anytime soon.
On the other hand, books on creativity are on the rise. However, instead of addressing the problem, these books seem to be sugar coating the issue by offering simplified pat answers. Acculturated.com has an article by Mark Tapson, titled The Death of Creativity. Tapson discusses an article for Harper’s by Thomas Frank, saying, these happy creativity -encouraging books are leading to a “monetized and commercialized creativity” that will be equally destructive to the process. Tapson puts forth the theory that creativity is born in rebellion. To mainstream the idea of creativity will make it less innovative. These books, according to Tapson, are “de-radicalizing” creativity leading to an acute flat-lining of the source of energy needed to incubate ground- breaking innovation.
Creativity as a mainstream buzzword lacks the resistance of rebellion. It moves with the flow instead of swimming upstream. For creativity to produce pearls of innovation, it must be formed in the friction of the oyster shell. As long as we are comfortable in our smooth grey creativity, there will be no irritating bits of sand to cause the formation of colorful pearls. How boring is a life without pearls! Time to throw some sand.
Do we, as artists, reveal to the world what there is around us to be grateful for? We see, hear, and feel the beauty that may be missed by others, especially those caught up in the rat race of the busyness of life. For myself, I forget to approach each canvas as an opportunity to express gratitude for the beauty I see. When searching for inspiration, perhaps the best beginning is to start with an expression of gratitude for the good fortune of artistic creativity.