As soon as someone tries to tell me they “just aren’t creative” I want to leap into inquisitor mode and discover in what ways they are, in fact, creative! I firmly believe that we are each created to be creative. It’s in there- in YOU- from birth. You, yes YOU, are creative- just in your own unique way. Let me give you some examples from my own family.
You can listen to an audio version of this blog post at the Ridge Light Ranch podcast called Anyone Can Teach Art. (7:40)
My amazing mother is one of those people I mentioned who’s always trying to tell me she’s not creative. However, she is a highly skilled quilter, gardener, and up-cycler. Recently, when doing some yard work at my house, she discovered an old stump half buried in the desert on our land. She dug it out, cleaned it up a bit and then asked me to get the dolly out and move it to the front yard. I did as I was told, because after all, she’s working hard at our house, and I really appreciate it. A few days later, she reburied it partially under a Palo Verde tree and planted a variety of little cacti in it. It’s really beautiful and I’m excited to see the blooms again next spring. She says it’s just her “therapy” and I get that. She LOVES plants and it’s really fun to be creative with things you enjoy.
Meanwhile, my mom has also been cleaning out an old cab-over-camper that was left here when we bought the house. Before we even bought the house, she saw it and immediately saw its potential. It’s painful to even look at right? We all saw trash, but she saw a cute little chicken coop. Over the last year, she’s done all sorts of work on it. In April, we begged a few strong friends (Thank you guys!!) to help us move it about a hundred yards over to another abandoned structure, which she envisioned as the chicken run (too many large hawks out here to allow my chickens to run around unprotected). She’s patched together some chain link fence, recovered from someone’s trash pile, then she closed up the holes int he camper with pieces of a polymer bed frame that had been tossed out, and then she and my dad built a nesting box and reinforced the floors with leftover plywood. Soon she’ll be painting it with leftover cool coat (a roofing material only Arizonans seem to use). Let me be the first to say, it’s going to be the cutest little coop you’ve ever seen. The amount of creativity it takes to make something substantial from trash, overwhelms me- yet it’s not the first coop she’s built for pennies. She has a real passion for up-cycling and gets a lot of satisfaction from it.
My last example is from Tigger (my oldest son- his bounciness earned him that nickname). Just a few days ago he was determined to turn his sliced apple into a crab. He’d seen it in his Ranger Rick magazine so he went and found the reference photo, and then started copying. (Copying is NOT the opposite of creative- it’s the first step in being creative. We naturally learn by imitating and that’s what copying is!) When he got to the eyes, he had to improvise. After thinking a minute he decided coco nibs would make great eyes. It turned out pretty cute right? He loved it and Gunner, (my younger son) of course, was super sad he had already inhaled his peach.
So what’s your area of creativity? It is the diverse ways you can entertain your fussy baby? Is it all the different outfit combinations you can make with just twelve items of clothing? Is it the knack you have for decorating a book shelf with the perfect balance of books and nicknacks? Maybe it’s the vast array of reports you can generate to show the accounting numbers in different perspectives, or the perfect mix of spices in a signature pasta sauce. We are all creative and we all tend to enjoy being creative, so find your arena and invest in it. Surround yourself with what inspires you! This is why I don’t want a plain planner or to-do list. I love to include drawings and color on all my printables so I can look them and smile at the beauty around me. They encourage me to push forward and find time for my art.
Once you know what your area of creativity is, I want to encourage you to share it with your children. In her book, The Core, Leigh Bortins talks about their family’s love of remodeling and gardening. These projects seem to be their family’s creative outlet and she talks about how she used them to teach her children about color and design. If you love to quilt, like my mom, show your children the art of quilting by explaining how you choose your material, follow or design a quilt pattern, and stitch with care. Then take them to a quilt show and let them see the amazing variety in quilts. If you love woodworking, like my dad, take your children with you to the lumber yard and explain what you’re looking for in a good piece of wood. Show them how you eye the grain of the wood to make the most beautiful part the focal point, and let them help you decide which stain to use on the finished work.