Challenges of CreativityShare
What are some of the challenges of being creative? An author (a weaver of words), and an artist (a master of imagery), exchange ideas and also share strategies to help kids overcome challenges and express creativity.
I am a teacher, consultant, and author of books about intelligence, productivity, giftedness, and child development. My friend, Rina Gottesman is an award-winning artist who creates beautiful, colorful abstract paintings. Although we engage in very different modes of artistic expression, and we have very different areas of expertise, we both agree that being creative can be challenging.
What’s a creator to do?
With that question in mind, Rina shared three of her favorite quotes. In this article—our second one focusing on creativity—we discuss why these particular quotes resonate with each of us, and what kids can learn from them.
QUOTE #1 - “LEAP AND THE NET WILL APPEAR.”
~ JOHN BURROUGHS (NATURALIST AND NATURE ESSAYIST)
Joanne Foster: Creativity is a choice. The creative process requires effort, demands patience, and defies the status quo. Being creative can be risky. It’s akin to stepping into unexplored waters, scaling lofty heights, or travelling through a tangled tropical forest. The way forward is not distinct, nor is it guaranteed to be safe. Basically, you have three options: 1) paralysis—stand still and go nowhere, 2) retreat—turn back and never know what might have been, or 3) progress—move ahead and take a chance. The third option represents the choice to be creative.
Whether a person chooses to swirl paints upon a white canvas, or scrawl letters across a blank page, risk-taking is an aspect of creative freedom and expression. There are endless nuances of colors, and countless words, so there’s no one conclusive choice. I’m both awed and excited by the vast power of possibility when I sit down to write a paragraph, an article, or a chapter. I select my words and I move forward. This is what I think John Burroughs was referring to as the “leap.” And, I picture “the net” as a support system fortified by the people who encourage my efforts.
Children who are learning to tap into their creative impulses may also encounter choices and challenges along the way. Caring parents, teachers, and friends can foster their confidence and nurture their capabilities as they tackle risks, and take those leaps.
Rina Gottesman: In order for creativity to grow, you have to believe in yourself and your abilities. When a new painting is nearing completion I ask myself questions such as, “What else can I add?” “What can I remove?” “What can I make bolder?” “What areas need to be quieted down?” My intuition tells me that one last move is needed yet I’m concerned that this ultimate stroke will 'ruin' my painting.
I leap, hoping that the net will appear. I have to let go of doubts, trust in my abilities, and rely on my instincts. And, if that doesn't work, then I have to resolve to focus, and to continue until I find the right move that will complete the painting.
QUOTE #2 - “I’VE BEEN ABSOLUTELY TERRIFIED EVERY MOMENT OF MY LIFE, AND I’VE NEVER LET IT KEEP ME FROM DOING A SINGLE THING I WANTED TO DO.” ~ GEORGIA O’KEEFE (ARTIST)
Joanne Foster: Fear can be debilitating. It can cause people to short-circuit impulses and desires, and prevent them from trying something new. Fear can also cause deeper distress. And, when worries and reservations are at the forefront of one’s thoughts and actions, it’s hard for creativity to flourish. As a writer, I find that I’m not as productive or creative when I’m busy wrestling with emotions.
Children and teenagers may need guidance as they learn to address their fears. Reassurance, emotional coaching, relationship-building, and self-regulation are a few of the coping strategies that can help kids understand their feelings, respond to them effectively, and become resilient. Children who are less fearful and more self-assured are ready to embrace their creativity.
Rina Gottesman: As an artist, I am often faced with fears. For example, fear of starting a new painting, fear of exhibiting my work, fear of rejection. Georgia O’Keefe is an accomplished and famous artist who acknowledged fears, yet she did not let them stop her. This inspires me!
O’Keefe’s compelling admission illustrates that no matter who we are, and what we may aspire toward, we must work through our fears. We have to continue to create and to do the things we love to do because this keeps us feeling vibrant, stimulated, and alive. Take that first step... a brush stroke, a typed word, or a single stitch. The rest will follow. Create from your soul!
QUOTE #3 - "ART IS THE ONLY WAY TO RUN AWAY WITHOUT LEAVING HOME." ~ TWYLA THARP (DANCER AND CHOREOGRAPHER)
Joanne Foster: Creativity is not just a means of expression; it’s a means of escape and diversion from the everyday world—the humdrum, the regimens, and the realities of life. Creativity, whether it takes the form of art, writing, dance, music, drama, or something else altogether, also offers myriad opportunities to break down old ways of thinking and doing, and to discover new conditions, pathways, and solutions. Although “running away” tends to have a negative connotation, I think Tharp’s words actually have a positive spin. They convey the idea that it is possible and potentially invigorating to go beyond the norm, reaching past the confines of what’s known, while still embracing the familiar. There’s a lot to be said for comfort. And after all, home is where many creative endeavors take root, and grow. I do my best writing on home turf where I feel serene and energized.
Rina Gottesman: With this quote, Tharp reminds me that even on my worst day, I can always escape to my studio, immerse myself in art, and forget the rest of the world. What a gift! That gift of flight is open to anyone who is creative. You can fulfill your aspirations by painting, writing, crafting, scrapbooking, baking, sewing, sculpting, dancing or singing. Give yourself the permission and freedom to be creative anywhere and any time. Creativity comes from somewhere deep inside. We all have it. Let’s use it! There’s no end to the possibilities.
The creative process can be exciting, joyous, and fulfilling, although challenges are inevitable. These challenges may have to do with taking risks, confronting fears, or navigating our world, but they can be overcome. Let the creative spirit prevail!
References and Further Reading
For more on creativity see "Beyond Intelligence: Secrets for Raising Happily Productive Kids" by Dona Matthews, PhD and Joanne Foster, EdD. For more on helping kids address avoidance behaviour see “Not Now, Maybe Later: Helping Children Overcome Procrastination” by Joanne Foster, EdD. For additional articles and resources visit www.beyondintelligence.net.
To learn more about Rina Gottesman’s work, visit her website at www.rinagottesman.com
What spark’s children’s creativity? Rina and I agree on the importance of encouraging play and spontaneity, and also practice. We recognize that curiosity, passion, chaos, and clarity can fuel the imagination, and that creativity matters from the earliest years onward. To read an article about this by Joanne Foster and Rina Gottesman go to The Creativity Post.
For an excellent article on creativity written by the incomparable Scott Barry Kaufman go to Scientific American.
"Nights Out" by Rina Gottesman - a newly created piece for an upcoming solo exhibit "Urban Heartbeat".