What exactly is creativity? And where does it come from?
How Is Creativity Defined?
Instead of grabbing a dictionary or psychology book I promptly breathe: “I have no idea!”
It’s easier to approach a somewhat coherent answer by waltzing around the question for a while, nudging it a bit, poking with the pointy end of a seam ripper perhaps, and digging through piles of colour, texture, shape, matter than state with the modesty of one who assumes to know everything but in reality knows nothing: “Creativity is [longwinded blah burped by ego] and therefore [kilometre-long sentence quoting some genius] which leads us to arrive at the following conclusion [*gentle snoring*].”
I still have every intention of plowing through the “Introduction to Esthetics” that I’ve packed and unpacked through six moves without reading even a chapter of yet. But not now.
Art Meets Science
Creativity is at the intersection of art and science, but I’m not sure how. When tapping into that endless well, the state of mind where nothing is wrong and everything is right, where orange and violet are a match made in heaven, time accelerates to the speed of light whilst simultaneously standing still, and I manage to forget everything that is wrong in the world for just a little while.
That is when creativity happens, but where it comes from I don’t know. The centre of the universe? Have you ever thought of where the middle of the universe is located? And what it looks like there? Is there sound or silence? Does it look like something or nothing at all?
Or is there a restaurant? I’d like to party where the universe ends, because it sounds like a place where one can drink alcoholic beverages without getting a blasted hangover.
Maybe creativity comes from the middle.
I Can’t Draw
Never tell a child they can’t draw. Especially not when pictorial drawing is made the same as creativity. Gad.
I still recall joining the Quilt Design A Day group on Facebook in 2015 and suffering from the worst imposter syndrome you can imagine. I thought I couldn’t draw and that was it. And since I couldn’t draw, I couldn’t (wasn’t allowed to?) use graphic software as a tool either.
And since I couldn’t (still can’t!) “draw”, I had no business pretending to design quilts either. Logical, no? Yes, very… No, not at all. Schrödinger’s kitty, I think.
I still can’t draw even if my life depended on it, but looking at the other daily doodles and designs in the group made me realise I was going to conquer the basics of my app, Graphic, on the iPad.
So now I design quilts among others and my art teachers except the last one can go study some psychology books and think about life for a while. She gave me a 10/10 in upper secondary school, because apparently I had managed to draw a leaf on a branch of all things to reasonable satisfaction as well as finish other assignments to her liking.
I keep forgetting I can draw because of all those before her, though, and suspect it will take another decade before mustering the courage to draw outside of my cross stitch design app. That’s not drawing because it’s pixels and crosses, and they don’t count somehow. Again, not very logical, but this is what happens when an incorrect message is drilled into the brain repeatedly.
Courage and creativity should never go in the same sentence, I strongly believe. Courage and innovation maybe, but not the former.
Having an actual art practice has been on my mind lately. Twyla Tharp got some attention about 20% into her book “The Creative Habit” and thereafter it’s faced the same existence as the above resource on esthetics, shuffled in and out of moving boxes, but sometimes we need to be ready for change.
It’s almost as if we intuitively sense that it will require a bigger shift, unexpected ripples across many ponds. And what we can’t control or simply anticipate may feel too big to take on. Until we are ready.
Like happened to my improvisational quilt, still in the making since an improv workshop with Heidi Parkes taken at QuiltCon. At first I wasn’t ready, then I bawled my eyes out whilst dealing with grief finally let out, and made progress until getting stuck smack in the middle of an embroidered word. Now I’m waiting for when I may feel ready to finish not just the word but the quilt.
I don’t know much about creativity, but one thing is certain: it isn’t linear.
Someone smarter than me (Albert Einstein) stated “Creativity is intelligence having fun.” Sounds about right.
Photo credit: Daniele Levis Pelusi.