02/07/20 BLOG 4: BEING CREATIVE: THE BIG REVEAL
This week I’m going to be discussing creativity and learning a new skill, but before we start I wanted to introduce myself and say hello. My name’s Jo, I’m one of the CLiCK Women’s Workers – hello! A few years ago me and a friend decided we wanted to try a new hobby and we whittled the choices down to a pottery class or an exercise class. The pottery seemed less strenuous so we went for it. I always thought of myself as someone who wasn’t arty and that I would probably be terrible but at least have fun. I was awful but I was hooked. The next few years I spent working in the voluntary sector and doing pottery as a hobby. Fast forward a few more years and I’m finishing a degree in art and design. I’ve been able to combine working with people around social justice issues with art and design – two areas which I love. It was a big step for me to pick up a creative hobby and a mammoth step to even consider doing pottery professionally never mind actually doing it. So that’s what I wanted to talk about this week – learning something creative and how we might feel about it.
BEING CREATIVE: THE BIG REVEAL
Over the next few weeks CLiCK will be releasing a series of creative workshops that you can do at home. This might be something you’re really interested in, or it might just seem like another thing to feel guilty about not achieving during lockdown. If the thought of doing something new feels like an added pressure, please go and relax and put your feet up. This is a really unique situation we’re living through and there is no right or wrong way to deal with it. Take time to look after yourself and listen to what you need right now, trust me, you’re the expert in this.
If you’re interested in trying something new but feel like you’re not creative, or that art was never your thing, please stay with me and let's unpick those thoughts. It’s very rare that we would expect someone learning something like medicine or engineering to instinctively know about these subject areas or be immediately good at them. When it comes to art and learning something we might see as “creative” however, we quite often see it as something that we are either good at or not. We rarely allow ourselves the time to learn and practice something creative before we’ve made our mind up that we’re no good at it and can’t do it. This is where the idea of talent can be really unhelpful. Yes, there might be, in some very rare cases, individuals who seem to be a genius at art, music, writing etc and have what we might call a natural talent. Well done, good for them, ten gold stars. The reality is, for most artists, musicians and writers, it’s a skill that has to be learnt. Professionals in these fields take time and practice to learn a skill and develop the ability to think creatively. Most things we see, read and hear will have been sketched, drafted, edited, thrown in the bin, picked out of the bin, redrafted and edited again before they reach us. Yet, quite often, we assume that these things come easily and just appear to those who create them. They don’t.
So. Learning anything, including something creative takes time, practice and patience. Daunted and intimidated? Please don't be. Learning and exploring is the fun part, especially when you remove the pressure of expectations. Ok, ready? Great, let’s go!
[…. Long pause while fun creative arty stuff happens]
Brilliant, you gave it a go. It can be hard putting yourself out there and trying something new so be proud of yourself. Did what you make turn out exactly how you imagined? Is what you made different from what you thought? Do you like what you made? Do you hate it and even though you gave it a shot you’ve affirmed that you’re no good at this and that I was talking rubbish? All of these feelings, though very different, are completely normal. Sometimes the first steps of a creative project can feel really positive and sometimes just downright horrible and frustrating. The good news is that the second step is the same no matter how you’re feeling about it – step away from it and go and have a break. I would strongly recommend a cup of tea and a biscuit at this point.
Welcome back. So, you’ve made a first attempt. It’s really important at this stage to recognise that with anything we’re learning we’ll have some expectations on ourselves; about how we’ll do, the emotions we might feel while we’re learning, and how we feel about what we’ve made. Feeling positive at this point and ready for the next step? Great, try and pinpoint a few things you really like about your first attempt. Is it the colour? Size? Layout? Line? Next use these things to try and come up with a few possibilities of other ways you can play with the things you like.
Think what you’ve done is a pile of rubbish? That’s ok. Are you feeling negative about it because it’s different from what you imagined? If it’s different that’s ok, it doesn't mean what you’ve done is necessarily bad. Remember that the whole point of learning is developing new knowledge. So even though we have these expectations before we start a project, the reality is that we can never predict the unknown. More often than not, what we make and how we feel about it will be different from what we imagined.
The trick is to make something, have an initial response to it, take a break, and then come back to it. Once you’re back ask yourself again do you still not like what you’ve made or is it just different from what you thought you’d make? If it’s different try and pick out some things you like about what you’ve done and experiment with them a bit more. Have you come back and still don’t like what you’ve done? That’s ok too. Pick out what you don't like and try experimenting by doing the opposite.
So that’s it, the big secret is revealed. Being creative is not about making something perfect and especially not the first time around. It’s about trial and error and playing with your ideas and representations in different ways. By giving yourself that space to play and explore you’re already being creative.
So over the upcoming weeks bear these things in mind. Give the workshops a shot and have fun playing with ideas and new skills. Being creative is a process. It might seem daunting to try something creative, but break it down into steps. The good thing is the upcoming workshops will guide you through these steps. Remember you’re learning something new, so be kind and patient with yourself. Expectations are almost always different from reality. Take a step back from your projects. Take time to draw out things you like and play around with them. It’s normal to be frustrated and not like what you’ve made. Take some time to think about why you don’t like it. Is it because it’s different from what you’d imagined? Do you need to take a bit more time to practice the technique? And finally, no-one makes things in isolation. Look at how other people might have used line, colour, scale in their work for inspiration. Try the links below to get your creative juices flowing.
Elements and Principles of Art and Design