What is Your Art?

Creativity is the tendency to generate or recognize ideas, alternatives, or possibilities that may be useful in solving problems, communicating, and entertaining ourselves and others. ~ Robert E. Franken in “Human Motivation”

When I was growing up, I thought ‘artistic ability‘ was something that you either had or not. My friend took art classes in school and so she was artistic. I, on the other hand, couldn’t draw a stick figure if my life depended on it.

My grandfather was a painter. Both of my grandmothers were quilters. My mother sews and knits and paints. My father could make things out of wood. I can’t do any of those things. I joked that I didn’t inherit the artistic gene. I was better at following the rules. I was a good student. I played in the school band, marching in step with the drum cadence, playing the music on the page without embellishment.

Looking back now, I see that I was an artistic child. I wrote short stories. I had a tape recorder and would record my stories and pretend to interview myself, as if for a radio show. It was fun! I had an active imagination that I put to use in play with my friends. I liked to take photographs – back when you had to buy the film and then take it somewhere to be developed. I was, in my own unique way, an artist.

The problem was, I thought art was something that resulted in a product that could be put on display for others to admire. My art was more internal, more personal and therefore, in my eyes, less valuable. I don’t think I’m the only one to feel this way. As Pablo Picasso put it, “All children are artists. The problem is how to remain an artist once you grow up.” As we grow, and we begin to see the world through the lens of capitalism, many people talk themselves out of their artistic pursuits because they don’t see them as having worth.

Being creative doesn’t always result in something tangible that can be put on display. Being creative is one way to connect with our spiritual selves, and get to know our inner nature more deeply.

In addition to painting, composing, writing, and crafting, creativity can be sharing ideas, coming up with possibilities, problem-solving. An artist is, simply, someone who practices their art. That art could be cooking, medicine, negotiation, parenting, law, teaching, dog training, politics, waitressing, forestry, publishing, carpentry, accounting, plumbing….the list is endless.

I like the perspective of Tim Atkins, a potter, from Life Tips from the Pottery Wheel:

“The process matters more than the product… No matter what form the art takes in the end, no matter what artistic medium you use, the process of making that art changes who you are, as a person.” 

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve come to agree. Pottery, cooking, medicine, negotiation, parenting, law, teaching, dog training, politics, waitressing, forestry, publishing, carpentry, accounting, plumbing….. the beauty is in the process. We are all creative in our own unique ways.

What is your art? Where do you express yourself most authentically? How do you share your creative self with the world?