Artists and makers tend to talk a lot about creativity. It is good to think about this. Contemplation of creativity allows us to understand what we do. To really develop our studio practice and move our creative expression forward, examining the nature of creativity is worthwhile. So, let’s start with a question. What is creativity? Creativity is the transformation of thought into action. It is awareness of the power of creative thought and application of creative energy through conscious activity. Creativity itself is a process. That is the way creativity becomes expression. Examining the nature of the creative process enhances our awareness of the true nature of creativity, and enables us to engage it and activate it more fully.
Creativity is a resource. This is my favorite thing about it. It’s available to everyone. There is no cover charge or entry fee. It is the same cost to all of us. Creativity is free!
This brings us to our second question; What is the source of creativity? Creativity is endless and eternal. It doesn’t have a beginning or an end. Creativity is like water; it’s liquid and flowing. It’s like an ocean, constant and enormous. Just like an ocean, it is always there.
Here’s our third question. Where is creativity? Creativity doesn’t have a location. It isn’t geographic. Like most intangible and unfathomable forces, creativity is everywhere and nowhere. The location isn’t important anyway. What really matters is how to find it. Finding creativity is more about how to fnd it than where to fnd it.
Creativity can best be found when the intellectual internal dialogue settles down and allows intuition and action to emerge. This is an experience most of us have had at one time or another. We may not always know how we got there, but we have learned to recognize when we are there.
Finding creativity happens by quieting down inside. This doesn’t mean we have to stop thinking all together, but it helps if we can endeavor to think calmly and clearly and quietly. Thinking calmly and clearly and quietly helps us focus. And just like a camera, when the lens is focused the image is clear.
If creativity is a process, we have a fourth question. How does the creative process work? Creativity is a process of exploration and investigation. In the visual arts we do this by making ideas into objects. We begin by sketching and modeling and prototyping. This can be as basic as scribbling, doodling and/or drawing; it doesn’t have to be well rendered illustration. We can do it with any material—paper, foil, cardboard, wax, mud, clay, even chewing gum. It is the activity that matters more than the material. It is just a process for giving shape and form to our ideas as we explore and develop them.
Creativity as a process is initiating, building up, developing ideas, creating vocabulary, expressing articulation, and communicating concepts. We learn to turn on the faucet of creativity through intentional activity, by selecting a point of departure, exploring and investigating the basic idea, and looking into what we can do with it. This is how we move it forward and make it into something.
Creativity is experience that follows interaction. Creativity is the observation of action and efect. It is developing awareness and recognizing result. It is tuning perception, understanding perspective, and following the aesthetic. By applying the process repeatedly and consciously, we cultivate a resource we can rely on.
Here is how this works: Creativity starts with ability. Ability means to be able to. First is the ability to turn off our thoughts and tune in our awareness and find the source. Next is the ability to work with ideas and materials in a creative way.
So, let’s recap our quick exploration of the nature of creativity.
What is creativity? Creativity is energy. Creativity is action. Creativity is process. Creativity is result. Where is creativity? Creativity is everywhere. It is energy that is all around us. It is free and accessible to everyone. How do we find creativity? By quieting down and becoming calm and focused. How do we make use of creativity? By selecting ideas, expanding and contracting, filtering and refining. How do we experience the result of creativity? By developing ability into skill, skill into fluency, fluency into talent, talent into accomplishment, and accomplishment into fulfillment.
Think about this in your next studio session. Being aware of the nature of creativity enables you to more fully engage all of its potential.