Michael Vincent Art Works

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 The Nature of Creativity

Creative expression in whatever form, if entered into fully and completely, has the power to transform how we are. In this article the concept of creativity is defined and the links with Art and expression clarified. The article concludes by establishing the important links between creativity, expression and health and well-being.

1. Introduction to the Nature of Creativity

Creativity is a word we often use without considering its precise meaning : we say that we are “being” creative or that we will “do” something creative. Creativity does involve action, it is an act, a way of behaving and it usually has a specific purpose : the creation of “something” which did not exist before. Many consider this “something” to be a work of art, that being creative involves the production of some form of art object - a painting, poem, piece of music etc. Of course this is so since an artist by nature is creative, as is a writer or composer. But creativity embraces much more than this because creativity, I suggest, IS a way of Being, a way of living in itself.

In a literal sense to create means to bring into being - something that did not exist before is made in the process of creativity. This can be many things and without wishing to form any creative hierarchy, valuing one thing above another, these things can range from making a cake to composing a symphony or painting a picture. What matters to the individual is the process of creativity, the act of being creative and what happens within the creator as he/she is creating.

“Coming is superior to being” Paul Klee once said, and it is during the process of creating - a cake or a symphony - that something happens to the creator which makes creativity such an important part of our existence. I would go so far as to suggest that we can be creative in every task we face in our lives : simply reflect for a moment on how “good” you feel when, with love, you have cleaned a room, made a meal, experienced a walk in the countryside or sowed some seeds in the garden. In all these activities we are bringing into our reality a state of being that did not exist before we acted in this way. We have changed something in some way and created something in its place.

Creativity and the act of being creative covers,  therefore, a wealth of activity. Being creative, and allowing ourselves to believe that we are able to be creative in some way, has the potential to change how we are mentally, physically and spiritually.

2. Creativity and Expression

We all have within us the ability to be creative. Sadly so many of us live in a repressed state in which our creativity in all its potential manifestations is stifled and unexpressed. We carry our creativity around with us like some dead weight. As a consequence of mental conditioning and suppression since birth we are afraid to express ourselves, afraid to show our emotions and how we really feel. We pretend, we have crutches to lean on and masks to hide behind which protect us from both revealing and discovering our true selves; and, of course, we have been told as a child that we simply are “no good” at being creative, something we have come to accept and believe, so why bother anyway?

Creativity and expression go hand in hand. A creative thought arises, a creative impulse moves within us, and the decision is reached to express this in some way. Expression is the act of making real, externalising, that creative impulse, of turning creative energy into some tangible and physical object, artefact or state of being. This could be a painting, a poem, a desire to dance or sing, to make a cake or plant a garden full of flowers - so many things!

Having the confidence in ourselves to follow this creative journey, and the knowledge to choose an appropriate medium in which to express ourselves, are crucial aspects of the creative process. Without this understanding and openness we will remain in a state of creative stagnation and frustration, unable to choose in which direction to go to express how we feel. We are repressed and held in leading lives of discomfort, dysfunction and ultimately of potential dis - ease.

3. Creativity and Well Being

We can all recall those moments in our lives when we have felt “good”, satisfied, fulfilled : after a stroll on the beach, after a good meal, after we have had a good clear-out of unwanted junk - on many occasions and often after the most simple of activities. Expressing our creativity is an integral part of this “feel good” element in our lives. When we are involved in creating something important to us, no matter how humble it may appear, changes are happening within us which effect  our health and well being in a positive way. Endorphins are released from the brain which impact upon us in a positive physical sense; we are inspired - in spirit - and connected to another level of  Being; we are involved and lose track of everyday time thus loosening our strangling connection with our daily tensions and stresses. Creativity and expression takes us into another world, a world in which we can be ourselves for a change free of the expectations and demands of others.

Once expression is complete, in whatever form it may take, there is a tiredness and sense of fulfilment, a deep peace. It is at this time that healing happens, physically, mentally and spiritually. In our expression we may have released deep anger, resentment and grief - now we are open to happiness, joy, bliss and love. Creativity and expression can become a powerful process with the potential to transform how we feel, how we are and to change the very nature of our Being.

The challenge for most is to find the beginning - “Where do I start?”-  and then to step through the fear of making those first creative marks. It may take a little time, very often much courage, but once we break lose and begin to connect with our creative spirit we come to understand that we have embarked on an amazing journey. We begin to realise the potential, we open the door and step into the light. The chains fall away and we savour a freedom the like of which we have never known before. We see that there is so much more to find within ourselves, to explore and to express and now we are confident to continue on our way. Our creativity, grounded in love, is ours to celebrate. What freedom, joy and liberation as we discover a new a new way to live! Creativity IS freedom, a freedom to fly, a freedom to be who we are and not what others expect us to be.

The creative journey ends when we decide. It could be short or it could last a lifetime becoming an integral part of the way we live our lives. The choice is ours.

 Painting by Michael Vincent - 'The Glastonbury Tor - Autumn' - 2004