The Spaces in Between: Creative Fodder in Daily Life
by Rose Deniz (Find Rose at http://rosedeniz.blogspot.com)
Creativity happens between the pages of a notebook, or when a brush of paint touches the canvas, right? As a guest speaker on the topic of cultivating a creative life to expat women, I’ve had businesswomen, stay at home moms, lawyers and teachers all agree with that idea. It’s hard to break down one’s ingrained notions of what is creative and what is not.
So what do most people consider to be creative?
Collage and scrapbooking
Singing and making music
What could be creative that doesn’t always get recognized as such?
What do most people think is not creative?
What else could you add to these lists from your own experience?
As a painter and writer, I used to subscribe to these stereotypes myself. In art school we were told real artists continued making paintings and sculptures after graduation. Serious artists got jobs like teaching art to pass the time until they could make money off the selling of their art. Any other pursuits were seen as distractions or side projects. The pressure to be represented by a gallery, compounded by the belief that to be an artist meant 99% alone time with 1% left to eat, sleep, maybe fall in love and only if you’re male, start a family, could destroy creativity.
Non-artists, or for clarification purposes, people not in the business of living off of art-making, talk about not being able to be creative in their jobs. Even though companies are starting to realize they can’t get by without right-brained thinkers, people still feel pressured to apply left-brained techniques even when they dream up more creative solutions. At home, tired and convinced they don’t have time for creativity, or think that they don’t have the creative gene, the belief gets perpetuated that art is something only others with a) more time, b) financial freedom, or c) artistic instinct can do.
Imagine, then, the discovery that the very thin line between creative and non-creative has to do with perception and not action.
Perception. How you interpret something. How you become aware of something. I know first hand from teaching students from age 14 to 60 that everyone can draw. I’m also convinced that you don’t have to draw or make art of any sort to be creative, but you do have to teach yourself to see.
Christina Katz explains that her own writing career didn’t kick into high gear until she had a child. My own perception shift happened soon after I moved to Turkey. I wanted to maintain an art and writing practice and I wanted to work from home while raising my children. To date, I’ve designed handbags, facilitated micro loans, taught English, done freelance illustration, wrote curricula, started a business, moderated dialogues, and started writing a novel. By art school standards, I failed because I wasn’t making money exclusively by my paintings. If art was only what hung on the wall, I had a pretty narrow and limited career path to look forward to.
It was while home with my two children that I realized that everything I did, from morning to night, had the potential to be creative. And with that feeling was the amazing sensation of freedom. If I just looked at it from a different angle, creativity was popping up everywhere.
So where is creativity lurking that it hasn’t been before?
To me, creativity is in a quiet moment on the balcony taking in the day, making the first cup of coffee of the day, talking to a friend on the phone and unraveling life mysteries. It is in creating a personal manifesto. It is being present to my thoughts and my life, to looking at piles of laundry and laughing, in the spark of connection that can happen online as much as in person, it is in letting go of self-doubt and resentment, it is formulating ideas and sharing them eagerly, it is being gracious to life’s gifts and humble to their ability to transform. It’s writing a blog post that connects people instead of divides them. It’s getting paid to do research and work on new and varied projects. It means not having to do the same thing twice.
If creativity happens when life is happening, and not just when we sit down to compose a sonnet, daily life become a glorious, bell-clanging over the top riot of color and sensation. In other words, life becomes art.