Was it a feature of your childhood that your artworks were displayed on the fridge door, stuck on by magnets from holidays of the past? I have such a strong connection to this concept, but Im not actually convinced that my parents did do that. Strange how the brain works. Regardless of my fuzzy recollections, I know it does happen and indeed I have very proudly displayed artworks given to me by various kids over the years, on the fridge, with whatever souvenir magnets were at hand (there’s always a few, aren’t there!). It seems such a generous gift, especially from little individuals whose only resource to share is their creativity. So special.
But what is this creativity that underpins my life and work? What are we actually talking about? We all probably know what we mean by it, but coming to explain it well to others seems a bit tricky (like German grammar rules!) Many academic definitions of the concept of creativity have been put forward, in several diverse disciplines. Most of these involve some combination of two main features, that being that what is created is novel or original, and that it is useful or valuable. I am not quoting any sources there, as this is mishmash of what multiple writers have put forward.
These days, around here at least, you may all to regularly be amazed by the creativity of people in inventing new ways to attach a face mask to their head while leaving the nose and mouth exposed. I find the bandana pretty elegant in its multifunctional status, and who can go past the original chin breather look. But wait! These may be novel and original, but what about useful and valuable? Seems doubtful. With our own artistic and creative outputs, how do we determine what is useful or valuable? Surely creating something beautiful is valuable, the process of doing and learning is valuable, the energy that we might generate for our own lives by being creative, making and expressing, could have sustaining and inspirational qualities not easy to immediately pinpoint. Experiences too painful or complicated to be expressed in words, can be addressed through various art forms and ways. So many possible ways that allowing ourselves to be creative can add value to us and to others.
All slightly intangible, wishy-washy, and quite literally arty-farty. Would it be more important to work out the formula for popularity and fame in the current environment and create output foreign and impersonal to you? Sure, if you have the skill and the market could be a good way to fund your real self valued creativity, but in the long run would you find joy in it? Unless financial power was your goal, probably not.
So what value do you place on your creative energy and output? What does it mean to you? What is the value in it - is the personal value of your creative output diminished if others don’t interact with it, value it or even experience it? Have you experienced the joy of becoming engrossed in a process of little intrinsic importance, to have the enormous satisfaction of seeing, touching what you have made? Personally, being In such a place inevitably leads me somewhere else!
The image I’m posting today is an untouched, raw image of water on Forggensee, a lake in Bavaria just underneath the famous Neuschwannstein Castle (aka Disney’s Sleeping Beauty Castle). The light and lack of wind on the lake made for these captivating patterns as the boat sailed around, and even at the time I knew I had to take as many photos as possible as they would be important for ‘something’. They have certainly inspired several different art themes and directions in the following years, even though they are stunningly beautiful in their own right. Inspiration can germinate without clarity at any time, perhaps a good definition of creativity would be having an openness to inspiration, no matter how immediately clear the purpose.