nurturing creativity: low-tech, low-pressure creating

This yummy paintbox came along with one of my students to a Creative Journaling workshop in the spring. It has that "new box of crayons" feeling, doesn't it?

New art supplies are so enticing and exciting. They speak of creative potential and endless delicious possibility. There are so many gorgeous things available now; papers from around the world, yummy embellishments, ribbons, tags, paints & pencils, sketchbooks & journals, fabrics... it's easy to get carried away.

I'm all for indulging yourself in beauty and bringing in all the tools and materials you need to make your vision real - in fact my studio is bursting with evidence of my enthusiasm for the world of art supplies!

But I see something happening with my students sometimes - they are intimidated by the materials, their specialness or pristine state - there's a fear of wasting or ruining. I also see the natural excitement of creative drive - that divine itch - being attributed to something outside ourselves; "oh, these new papers by so-and-so are gorgeous!" "these special new metallic pigments will make my paintings glow!" even "oh, I'm saving this such-and-such until I'm really good..."

So, I just want to remind us all, it's not the "stuff" that makes the work beautiful and creative. It's not the "stuff" that drives the excitement - it's actually YOU, the artist. The excitement you feel about that new product is, at it's heart, actually excitement about your own creative drive.

Humans have always felt that deep creative excitement, and yes, it can be inspired by materials, whether those materials are the latest scrap-booking paper, or dirt, rocks, ashes, and porcupine quills. (Think frescoes, renaissance sculpture, the paintings of Lascaux, amazing stitching of the Plains Indians...)

Here's a piece, Minutiae by Robert Rauschenberg , which is made of things like newspaper, discarded fabric, broken furniture found in alleys, string, and broken plastic bits. GORGEOUS. I love this piece. Nothing from Michael's on this piece (even if they'd had Michael's in 1954!)

OK you say, but I'm no Rauschenberg. What if I'm not an artist? Great! A non-artist armed with non-art-supplies is completely unencumbered by expectation and has a chance to create something really wonderful.

So you go. If you're wondering where to start, I would suggest the following kit for on-the-go, low-tech creativity:

  • a small basket or cigar box in which to put everything
  • inexpensive paper or a journal
  • two or three old glossy magazines
  • sharp scissors
  • a glue stick
  • pens (gel, technical, or just good ol' ball point) & pencils (watercolour, sketching, or a sharp #2B)
That's it for my basic creativity kit. In a pinch you can do without the scissors, because torn edges are so pretty! Keep one stocked in your car, in your tote bag, or on your bedside table so you can seize the moment and get creative!

Now, if you are stumped for what to do, I would suggest the following process:

  • decide now that whatever it is, you'll throw it away when it's finished. this allows you to relax.
  • with no goal in mind, go through the magazines, letting your mind wander over the images and colours. try browsing upside down, so you are just seeing abstract images.
  • pull out five or six images, colours, or backgrounds that feel yummy to you.
  • cut or tear them up
  • stick them to your paper, in whatever way feels good. work quickly!
  • work back in, go over these images with penwork or more collage - work as spontaneously as you can!
  • take note of your feelings and ideas as you work.
  • throw this one away and start the process again!
  • repeat as many times as necessary until you start to have fun!

So go out and have a wonderful creative day. I know you are busy, but try to find five minutes today to indulge your creative impulses.


3pieceonline said...

I love this post. My daughter initially decided she wanted to paint instead of journaling her emotions which spurred my drive now my son has jumped onboard. We have art coming out of our pores!


Bronwyn said...

thanks 3piece, it sounds like FUN at your house!!!!!!!

Leah said...

lovely post!! I love to do low-pressure creativity sessions. so good for the soul. :-)


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