There can never be the act of ‘creating’ when it has already been pre-conceived, totally digested and worked out. This is the problem faced to those that want to have a go at anything original or creative. I don’t pretend to know much about the act of creating but have given it some thought and reflection after some of my own efforts in doing something ‘new’.
Many years ago, and in the middle of unprecedented spending on art, artists and all things ‘creative’ in The Netherlands during the seventies, I was given the task of running the art section of a school loftily titled “ Creative Development for Adults”. It was supposed to install or perhaps re-install the ‘creative’ instinct into those adults that were brave enough to enroll. Dutch society would be the better for it and a new ‘Golden Age’ would inevitably rise up again.
After a well appointed art section was built, from the smallest brush to huge kilns, drums of clay, shelves full of art material, etching presses, copper plates and lithograph stones weighing tons, I was introduced to a class of adults, mainly females. My skills in teaching were mainly in the area of being somewhat vague and unsure of how ‘art’ could be taught at all. Of course, skills and technique can; but Art? Fortunately, I had enjoyed a few art courses years before by artists who generally let you muddle along while they went to the pub. This stood me in good stead . I have yet to meet children that are not creative but the tragedy is that so many loose that when growing up into ‘responsible adults’. Go to an exhibition of pre-school or first few years of primary school kids’ drawings and it is always so surprising to see all that talent pinned up to the wall. See the kids at 12 or 13 and already there is a change into conformity and expectations for others, a keenness to be the same as others, be approved off and become accepted. The creative part seems to be dripping away. Why is that?
My part in teaching those adults was trying to get them back to the stage they were in as young kids. The most common few words that most of them uttered were: “I can’t do that”. I used to challenge them and say, “How do you know”. “Most of you would be fighting to do a painting or drawing when you were four or five; what has changed?” You don’t know till you try. There were adults that could not bring themselves to physically put a piece of charcoal to paper. Let yourself go, was the answer. Don’t be afraid. Go on strike a crooked line; don’t wait for the paper to come to you. Just do it!
Finally most of them just loved doing the course and after many years I still have contact with one of them who has become an accomplished painter with many exhibitions both in The Netherlands and other European countries. Just have a look at her work:
Many years ago, art was a very strict discipline. The Julian Ashton in Sydney school still teaches art as a strict discipline. One will spend months on getting a mere hint of a shadow right or years perfecting the painting of a single petunia. The results, in my opinion, are that students become so disciplined their work loses all creativity and the work becomes boring and repetitive. The need for accurate reproduction can now be done perfectly with a good camera. So… why not just paint, sculpt, potter, write, photograph or do anything,…. create by letting go of all pre-conceived ideas and just do it….Create something new….