I had a visitor during my morning class, another teacher—she teaches social studies. She sat near my desk studying the room. Quiet indie music played from the speaker in the corner while the students leaned over their large beautiful pastel portraits, working and blending colors, completely focused.
“Look at them.” She said with a smile. “This is such a nice change for them, to come here and get a chance to be creative and make some art. They need that.” She said it like it was necessary. Like it may have been a dose of something for their body.
“We all need that.”
I was quick to respond but I believe my statement is 100 % true. It is something we need!
The sneaky shift
The priority of creativity shifts little by little as we grow up. As we get older and move into high school we have to have specific classes to get into the program we want. There isn’t always room for art or music or theater. Then, in university our free time is filled with a part time job to get money for basic things or entertainment. We finally finish and get the job. Our evenings and weekends are used keeping the house, raising children, washing the car, keeping the yard, socializing and simply doing other things—not creative things for the sake of it. The opportunity to be creative falls away. And then one day we realize that we haven’t drawn a picture or strummed the guitar since we were kids. Well, that’s not okay.
What Leigh said
I met a fellow in art school named Leigh. I don’t know where he is now. It’s been almost 30 years. But he told me a story that stuck. Here’s what he said:
A long time ago if you wanted a chair, Angie, you’d go to a chair maker and they’d make you a chair. You’d pick the wood, and the upholstery and the color. You’d go away and that chair maker would craft you a chair. You’d show up on the date and pay them for the hand crafted chair. They would be proud of the work they did. Look at that chair I made for you! They would say or at least think. Now, when you get a chair you go to a store and buy a chair. No one made that chair. A person in a factory stood in one spot and screwed that leg to that seat, over and over again all day long. Look at that screw I put there! Not exactly something you’d brag about is it? Nothing to be proud of. It’s kind of sad. People don’t create much anymore. I think it might get to us eventually—us being society—if we lose our creativity.
This story stuck with me. We’ve fallen away from creation. As adults we don’t take our daily dose. We feel it’s important enough to have in our curriculum for our kids. We sign them up for all sorts of lessons. We say they must have a fine art credit to finish high school but is it important enough to have in our lives after that? Don’t get me wrong. There are many people who have lots of fun creatively and find time to sign up for a drawing class, or a ceramics course, or a sewing or wood working classes. But, generally, our society doesn’t carve out the time for something I think is so important for happiness and balance. And we don’t live in a world where, like we used to, where creation was part of life: building, sewing, knitting, needle point, metalsmithing—even breadmaking was an art.
Happiness lies somewhere in the making
Standing around my print making professor during a demo he stated very nonchalantly that the ten of us would graduate with our BFA and of us ten, two would never make art again. Then six of us would maybe make it for a few more years. The remaining two would continue on for a decade but only one of us would make art for our lifetime. My little ego whispered “challenge accepted.”
My little sister doesn’t make art per se. She says she’s not creative. However, she is an amazing baker. She knits and gardens, tending to creation as much as her heart. Whether it is on purpose or not she has engaged in the act of making—maybe because she needs it.
I’m a creative. Can I use that as a noun? I just did. And I’m always making something because like teacher visiting my class said it’s good for me. I’m not making art because I want to get rich I’m making art because I love love love creative process. I take that pill every day. Big dose. Small dose. Daily.
It’s one of those things that make me happy.
It’s important and necessary to be creative—to make things.
I need it—maybe we all need some dose of creativity daily. What’s yours?