Thoughts On Creativity


 

— Neal Lemery

 

“Creativity is just connecting things.  When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while. That’s because they were able to connect experiences they’ve had and synthesize new things.”

— Steve Jobs

 

Creativity is a door to be opened, letting in fresh air, ideas to be rearranged, reordered, pursuing new ways, the old redone.

 

Becoming Evolving Changing Growing Progressing — a human being, not a human doing

Artist Creative Painter Musician Nurturer Convener Grower Planter Weeder Harvester Naturalist Scientist Poet Writer Observer Listener Sensate Kind Intuitive Patient Tolerant Righteous Advocate Teacher Healer Mediator Verbal Curious Student Activist Doer Changer Leader Introvert Parent Child Partner Journeyer Traveler Understanding Compassionate Inquisitive Thoughtful Watchful Mindful

Looking at it from all angles, taking a different perspective, a fresh viewpoint

Not satisfied with others’ opinions and thoughts

Asking why, again and again

Enjoying the stillness, before the answer

Not the easy way out, the obvious

Taking the road not taken

Hearing the different drummer

 

“…

 

“For what is man, what has he got?
If not himself, then he has naught
To say the things he truly feels
And not the words of one who kneels
The record shows I took the blows
And did it my way.”

 

“My Way”, sung by Frank Sinatra  (Songwriters: Claude Francois/ Gilles Thibaut/ Jacques Revaus/ Paul Anka. My Way lyrics © Warner Chappell Music France, Jeune Misique Editions, MBG Rights Management.

 

Space will open up, allowing the mind to breathe, to ponder, to be still.  And, in that stillness, ideas which have been floating around, coming close, can be allowed to come into me and settle, to take form, and find expression, becoming thoughts.  They will find form, and allow themselves to weave and dance with other ideas, new creations, almost ready to take on a name and an identity.

 

“As [Stone] was growing up in rural Virginia, she would be out, working in the fields and she would feel and hear a poem coming at her from over the landscape. It was like a thunderous train of air and it would come barrelling down at her over the landscape. And when she felt it coming . . . ’cause it would shake the earth under her feet, she knew she had only one thing to do at that point. That was to, in her words, “run like hell” to the house as she would be chased by this poem.

“The whole deal was that she had to get to a piece of paper fast enough so that when it thundered through her, she could collect it and grab it on the page. Other times she wouldn’t be fast enough, so she would be running and running, and she wouldn’t get to the house, and the poem would barrel through her and she would miss it, and it would “continue on across the landscape looking for another poet.”

“And then there were these times, there were moments where she would almost miss it. She is running to the house and is looking for the paper and the poem passes through her. She grabs a pencil just as it’s going through her and she would reach out with her other hand and she would catch it. She would catch the poem by its tail and she would pull it backwards into her body as she was transcribing on the page. In those instances, the poem would come up on the page perfect and intact, but backwards, from the last word to the first.”

Elizabeth Gilbert, on the poet, Ruth Stone

 

I dare to be different, to think outside the box, or not even believe in boxes, to imagine the “unbox” or the “anti-box”. I strive to celebrate my differences, to be and act different.  Just me, without the need for others, for their defining of the creative, the becoming imagined, the shaper of the creation. It is enough for all that to be within and through me; the undefinable.

The Muse will come.  The Muse has come in the past, and is present, or close enough to be felt in this here and now. I am merely the provider of the space, the place, the keeper of the kindling awaiting the match.

I am often only the vessel, the instrument, the mover of the pen or the brush, the picker of the guitar, the hand, the embodiment of the vibrations, the something through which the work is passing through.

And that is enough, in a moment. I am a holder of a space, that which embraces and gives shape and movement, the true expression to that which is moving through me in a certain space and time.

 

 

February 13, 2019

 

On Creativity


 

 

I’ve always felt that what I create isn’t really much about me. In what I do, the writing, painting, gardening, photography, and music, I feel that I am often only a conduit for what comes out of the word processor, the paint brush, the guitar, the camera lens, and the garden trowel.

I don’t “own” my creations; I just put them into a form for others to experience. And I certainly don’t want the responsibility for what people might think about my art, or how to react to it and apply it, or not, to their lives.

Elizabeth Gilbert has a wonderful way of expressing this idea:

“…my deep and lifelong conviction (is) that the results of my work don’t have much to do with me.  I can only be in charge of producing the work itself.  That a hard enough job.  I refuse to take on additional jobs, such as trying to police what anybody thinks about my work once it leaves my desk.” Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear, (2015, p 123).

I’m just the curator, the presenter of an idea, a concept, perhaps a new way of looking and thinking about something.  It passes through me, and goes on to others. They can do what they will with the idea, the experience. Or not. It is out of my hands.

Looking at my art this way takes a burden off of me.  I’m really not responsible for what people do with my art, what they experience and where they go with it.  My job is to respond to the creative spirit in and around me, and create.

As Elizabeth Gilbert says, “Just keep doing your own thing.”

 

–Neal Lemery, August 23, 2018

Valuing Art


Valuing Art

 

(First published at Art Accelerated’s Blog, July 30, 2017)

 

By Neal Lemery

 

What is the value of art in our lives? Does it have an impact?

 

“Art is the lie that enables us to realize the truth.” (Pablo Picasso)

 

Art is a way of finding and expressing the truth in our lives. It allows us to explore and find things within ourselves we may not have realized are there. Art allows us to discover who we are.

 

“Art is an irreplaceable way of understanding and expressing the world,” said Dana Gioia, chair, National Endowment for the Arts. “There are some truths about life that can be expressed only as stories, or songs, or images. Art delights, instructs, consoles. It educates our emotions.” (Commencement address, Stanford University, 2007)

 

Working in high school art classes, researchers Hetland and Winner found that arts programs teach a specific set of thinking skills rarely addressed elsewhere in the school curriculum—what they call “studio habits of mind.” One key habit was “learning to engage and persist,” meaning that the arts teach students how to learn from mistakes and press ahead, how to commit and follow through. “Students need to find problems of interest and work with them deeply over sustained periods of time,” write Hetland and Winner.

They found that “the arts help students learn to ‘envision’—that is, how to think about that which they can’t see. That’s a skill that offers payoffs in other subjects, they note. The ability to envision can help a student generate a hypothesis in science, for instance, or imagine past events in history class. Hetland and Winner, Studio Thinking: The Real Benefits of Visual Art Education (2007).” Karin Evans, Arts and Smarts, Greater Good Magazine, UC Berkeley, (December 2008)

 

“Along with the perks of enjoying and experiencing art, there are real-world benefits to making the art with your own two hands. According to a 2014 study, producing visual art improved psychological resilience and increased brain activity for the participants by the end of the experiment.” Gabe Bergado, Mic.com (December 15, 2014)

 

“Art allows children to express emotions that can be difficult to discuss with others.

 

“According to research conducted by the Childcare Education Institute, ‘art offers children an important outlet for emotional expression and the assurance that their feelings are valuable,’ which is particularly critical for disadvantaged children whose feelings might have never been validated. Expressing emotions such as anger or fear through artistic expression such as dance or writing allows children cope with aspects of living in a healthy, safe space. It also enables them to release difficult emotions instead of repressing them.” K. Nola Mokeyane, Information on How Art Helps the Behavior of Disadvantaged Children, (oureverydaylife.com)

 

Does art have value? I would argue yes.

 

“When Winston Churchill was asked to cut arts funding in favour of the war effort, he simply asked,’then what are we fighting for?’ ” (Kazuo Ishiguro)

 

In my own life, art has had a tremendous impact. By allowing myself to be creative, and to have space in my life where I can explore and play, I have greatly expanded my view of who I really am.

 

I’ve always been a photographer, exploring light, composition, and “seeing” the world in a different way. That creativity helped balance my life in college and law school. I played in school bands, and loved music.

 

My interest in art, and my hunger for a creative outlet brought me to look at my love for gardening as a way of expression. Years later, I took art classes at my local community college. In that work and discipline, I found a sense of freedom and self expression.

 

Over time, I’ve learned to give myself permission to experiment, to “let go”, and be uninhibited with my art. In many ways, it is a return to the spontaneity of childhood play. Now, I play my guitar, and pick up my paintbrushes with a sense of excitement and limitless possibility.

 

And, in my art, I have found a self I never really honored before, and am getting acquainted with my soul, a person I really enjoy.