Do You Know How to Be Creative?

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Can you learn how to be creative? Can you learn how to be more creative? Even as an adult who might have had to set aside creative or artistic pursuits because of work or family responsibilities? The answer is simply, yes. Creativity is part of what makes us human. A lifetime of setting creativity aside doesn’t mean a thing.

In a recent New York Times article, reporter Laura Holson describes how today’s midlife crisis for those in their 40s and 50s isn’t cured by a red convertible or a wild Vegas weekend. It’s cured with meaning and making. It is cured with creativity.

Creativity can be the solution for so many of the things we face every day: anxiety, depression, the desire for spiritual growth or meaningfulness. And the best thing about creativity is that it is a like a deep well within in. You just have to throw off the cover and let those creative “waters” loose.

In her newest book, Awakening Your Creative Soul, Sandra Duran Wilson shows how each of us — no matter how much time has passed — can learn how to be creative and fulfilled with our own artistic passions. The tips, projects and ideas presented here from Awakening Your Creative Soul represent possibilities for you to start with. With creativity, there is always more where that came from! Enjoy!

My painting Milagro, which means miracle, is where I found the ladder leading up to the window to the sky. It is inspired by a real place in northern New Mexico. Milagro by Sandra Duran Wilson, mixed media on panel 14" × 14"

My painting Milagro, which means miracle, is where I found the ladder leading up to the window to the sky. It is inspired by a real place in northern New Mexico. Milagro by Sandra Duran Wilson, mixed media on panel 14″ × 14″

NEW EYES
Make the common sights strange and the unusual familiar.

Your art will be found in the hidden corners and crevices of your soul. It won’t hit you over the head, it will whisper your name. Learn to listen and see with fresh eyes.

When we become accustomed to seeing the same things every day, they tend to disappear. Our mind cuts out the familiar. We must train our mind to see again. Take, for example, water. How often do you encounter water in some shape or form during the course of your day? Many times, yet your mind doesn’t register these encounters as events to remember.

Begin today by taking note of every time you encounter water. It is in your coffee or tea in the morning. It is in the shower and the bath. It is in the food you eat. It is used in manufacturing plastics. It is everywhere. Notice and think about this for the day. Make yourself aware of the familiar. Think about how you could use this information in creating a work of art.

How to be creative: see with new eyes

I created this painting following my week of noticing water. The painting is made using Venetian plaster on panel. I embedded a leaf skeleton into the plaster, then used water to burnish and remove some of the plaster. I then applied encaustic, which is beeswax with damar resin. These things all contain water.

ATTITUDE CARDS
Practice positivity to change your life one day at a time.

Are you experiencing the kind of day you want? Do you need a little boost or a reminder? Just like the saying “We are what we eat,” we are also what we think. Attitude sets our tone for the day.

Begin your day with joy and inspiration. Leave yourself a note on the mirror that simply says: smile. Another one in your sock drawer: you are loved. One in your car: you are talented. Attitude cards are little reminders of our joy and greatness.

You may place these around your home, studio or office. Or you may keep them in a bowl and pull one each morning to set the tone and inspire your day.

To begin, come up with a list of words that you find inspirational or that encourage positivity. Here are some of my words: Laughter, smile, sing, joy, dance, seek, play, you are loved, strength, faith, release, patience, vibrant health, intuition, spontaneity, journey, grace, trust and so on.

Several of my daily attitude cards.

Several of my daily attitude cards.

WHO ARE YOU
Transform a blank canvas into a portrait to get to the heart of your identity.

Who you are is much deeper than the labels we usually give ourselves. What are your labels— woman, friend, mother, artist, healer, man, father or the identity of your career?

Think of it like peeling the fine, thin layers off an onion. First there are the dry outer skin layers that come off easily. Next there is a thicker protective layer and then the fine, thin membranes, which are very fragile. These layers are like our labels: easy to identify. Below are the layers of our experiences, followed by the layers of our emotions and, at the innermost center, our soul’s core layers.

You can do this exercise with a partner or you can use a mirror to do the exercise by yourself. To begin, ask the question, Who am I? Take a moment to breathe and answer the first thing that comes to you. It will probably be your name. Ask again, who are you?

Continue repeating and answering the question like you are peeling off the layers to reveal your inner self. Take time to breathe and let your answers flow.

There is no wrong answer. You may write the words down, or simply stay in the process and write them afterward. If you are doing this with someone, ask them, Who are you?, making sure to look into their eyes when asking and responding.

This may feel awkward in the beginning but stay with it. If you are doing this on your own, use a mirror to look deeply into your own eyes. Write your words in pencil on paper.

When you have finished this exercise, make a self-portrait based on your responses. This is not a traditional self-portrait. It is not based on your outward appearance, but on who you are experientially, emotionally and soulfully.

Map of My Hand Holders by Jill M. Berry, mixed media and collage on paper 10" × 8"

Map of My Hand Holders by Jill M. Berry, mixed media and collage on paper 10″ × 8″

FIND YOUR TRIBE
Create a hand map to identify and connect your tribe.

This exercise is all about discovery, in particular, discovering or finding your tribe. Since I use mapmaking as a tool for exploration and storytelling, and since we all traced our hands to make artful beginnings as children, I decided a hand map was in order. For me, the hand symbolizes creativity and support. Those who have figuratively or literally held our hand on our creative journeys are our tribe.

Start by making a list of five people who are important to your sojourn through life, then assign an animal to each of them that your inner child might want to have along.

Each of the animals I selected reminded me of my individual tribe members and offered something to the creative passage. Here are some examples:

Owl: wise, quiet strength.

Elephant: loyal, smart.

Lion: fierce, authoritative.

Bumblebee: industrious, flight.

Parrot: color, spontaneity.

Continue to make notes about your relationship with each tribe member that could be drawn in some symbolic or literal way. You could also use collage for this whole project without drawing a thing.

Make a list of attributes of each tribe member that could be illustrated with a small symbol to add to your map. I came up with the idea of having the palm of my hand be the base of an island off the mainland of life, and each finger a promontory with a path of a tribe member. The promontory is connected to the mainland by a bridge. (Contributed by Jill M. Berry)

TELL A STORY
Explore the theme you are living, expand it or change it
. . . you are the author.

We tend to create around the same themes because this is our story, but do you always recognize the themes? How many times have you felt like you woke up from a dream and wondered whose life you were in?

This has been the plot of many a movie or book. Is it total amnesia, some sinister plot or have we simply lost our way and straggled along for years not being present? It is time to wake up and rewrite the script.

How to Be Creative: Tell your Story

I worked on my composition by painting some areas black to make the night sky. I used a round foam stamp to make the moon, and I splattered white paint for the stars. Winter Moon by Sandra Duran Wilson, mixed media on paper, 22″ x 15″

Exercise

We are going to write a story about discovering our muse. Your story can be any genre: science fiction, drama, comedy or even fantasy. Write your story and then illustrate it. It may be figurative, abstract, emotional or whatever your muse gives you. Use it as a springboard to explore a new path or medium. Make a sculpture, stitch a book, write a song, take photographs or dance your story. Or try them all. Here are some prompts to guide you to the next development.

• Where do you find inspiration?
• Is it a place, thing, activity or something else?
• What do your surroundings look like?
• Go somewhere—to the park, a museum, a bus—somewhere you will encounter people. Really look at those around you without staring. Look not only with your eyes but with your heart. Sketch a person or write about a person you see. Don’t judge. The person may be anyone you are drawn to, but not someone you know. You will probably have only a few minutes to capture the essence of the character.
• What is a place you daydream about?
• Is it real or in your imagination?
• How do you feel when you are there?
• There is an open space ahead of you; what does it look like?
• What is the weather like?
• Where are you going?
• Whom are you going to meet?
• The character you met earlier is your muse. What does your
muse tell you?

How to be creative: share it with others

Fly Like You Know You Can by Sandra Duran Wilson Mixed media on panel 8″ × 10″

NOT ALWAYS SOLO
Share your creativity with other people.

I like to put sweet love notes or positive affirmations inside library books for others to happen upon. Another favorite is to leave a beautiful journal full of drawings in a public environment asking the finder to add to the art and pass it on to others.

Discover Your New Creative Perspective

Sandra Duran Wilson is an artist and an instructor who wants to help bring out the creativity inside all her readers and students. Awakening Your Creative Soul may be the guide you have been seeking and part of the answer you need about tapping your own creativity. The rest of the answer comes from you and the journey you are about to give yourself permission to take.

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