I’ve been an artist since I could remember (or at least that is what I called myself since the day I discovered crayons.) It’s been said that everyone is born with creativity, but as we grow older, we grow out of our creative mind, just as we grow out of our shoes and clothes. Is this true? Do we become less creative as we age?
I used to teach art classes in a studio for children ages five to fifteen. Each class session was inspired by a historical artist such as Leonardo da Vinci, or Andy Warhol. The students learned about the life of the artist, and famous art pieces they were well known for. They would then create their own representation of the art pieces inspired by the artist they learned about. The extent of their creativity and imagination depended entirely on them, and I was not to influence them with my ideas but encourage their own. My job was to simply oversee their ideas, and teach them how to use the art tools in order to create them.
What I discovered working at this art studio was how the ability to create and the idea to “step out of the box” had been so paralyzing for many of the older groups (ten to fifteen year olds) whereas, the younger groups were more open to try something new and different.
I thought to myself everyday, why is it that these kids have such different perspectives and limitations to the same art assignment? It wasn’t until one day when the parents came into the class, that I found my answer.
Of course the parents loved to look at their children’s work and we’d encourage them to do so to experience their child’s development and creativity. There were parents that giggled at the artwork; there were parents that were offering their suggestions on what to add or what to take away; there were parents that said they were so amazed at what their child could do, and there were parents that shrugged and said, “maybe art is not for them.”
I believed that many of the parents of the younger groups contributed less of their opinions simply because they didn’t expect much of their five year olds. But as these kids start getting older, the expectation grows with the hope that their kid wouldn’t draw lollipop trees in art class, and would create something a little more “realistic” which explained why the older children often felt suppressed when expanding their imagination.
We live in a world where possibilities are endless, where something extraordinary can be created from something ordinary. Children lead the best example of this when they have extravagant imaginary tea parties or build wondrous forts out of pillows and blankets; as we all have done when we were kids. I’ve seen children create the most extraordinary, authentic and original art pieces that they loved making, and watched them change the whole thing because someone said they should.
Sound familiar? Most of us today, go through life unaware of the fact that we are constantly being suppressed of our creativity and individuality. We are constantly being told how to live; advertisements telling us what to buy, jobs that tell us what to do and how to do it. Our daily lives leave no room for the creative mind to wonder or tap into our own individuality.
But why is creativity so important? Creativity allows us to push every boundary in our mind, to think beyond limitation, to challenge and think outside of expectation. This is where the most growth and development happens. Some would challenge that our brain stops developing when we become a certain age, but I believe creativity allows us to channel new development and growth even when the rest of our bodies ceases to do so. Creativity also allows us to live more vibrantly and encourages fun and play in our lives again, and when we have more fun, we live happier and we live better.
So lets keep creativity alive! Have more dance parties, play more games, write a book, redesign a room, tell more stories, create something new everyday, and find the artist that still lives in you.