“Every child is an artist,
the problem is staying an artist when you grow up”
– Pablo Picasso
There is creativity in all of us. Yes, you read that right. All of us. From the banker and the bookkeeper to the writer and watercolorist. The problem is, we grow up and we forget. Or it becomes slowly buried under the routines and demands of our daily lives.
Believe it or not, even “creative” types struggle to keep their creativity alive. The key to reinvigorating your creativity lies in breaking those routines to reawaken your imagination and reconnect with the creative part of you. One way to do this is to plan a date with creativity.
It may sound counterintuitive to set a date for creativity. Won’t that kill creativity rather than foster it? Typically, my answer would be yes. I can’t imagine a less productive route to creativity than sitting down at a desk and saying “Okay, now I’m going to be creative.” But this isn’t a date FOR creativity, it’s a date WITH creativity. It’s simply making space for creativity to visit. To get out of your daily routine and find connection. Connection to nature, to art, or sometimes just to yourself. And there’s just one requirement: slow down and start observing.
One of my favorite ways to do this is in nature. A simple stroll through my gardens to observe and connect has opened the door to some of my most creative moments. Flowers that are in bloom, wildlife that is present, the changing light. Have you ever sat to watch a spider weave its web? It’s actually quite fascinating. And morning dew on that same web? Stunning.
If you need a little help getting started, one tactic to help you observe and connect is the See/Think/Wonder technique. Developed by Harvard University, this technique serves as a road map to deeper connection. I have used it to great effect in art museums, particularly when I start to feel overwhelmed or am lacking focus. You start by focusing on simply seeing. Really LOOK at the painting (or sculpture, or outdoor scenery). What do you see? Look for the details. In paintings, I start by focusing on the subject matter, but then I go deeper. The paint colors, the brush strokes.
Then ask yourself what you think and feel about what you are seeing. What affect are these observations having on you? What emotions do they illicit? What do you like about what you are seeing? What do you dislike?
Then, my favorite part, especially when using the technique in art museums or galleries: Wonder. What does it make you wonder? With paintings, I always seem to wonder about what the painter was thinking and feeling. What was his or her day like that day? What were they thinking as they mixed their paint and made their brushstrokes? What was it like to live during that time or spend a day in the artist's life? With nature, my wonder is a bit different. I’m often in awe of nature: the beauty, the synchronicity. It’s a beautiful place to be, and—for me—serves as a passageway to connection and creativity.
Like most dates, try to make your date with creativity a one-on-one affair. And bring a notebook so you can write down any noteworthy reflections. Lastly, set up regular dates—and make sure to keep them. You’ll be glad you did.