Creativity [kree-ey-tiv-i-tee], noun (from dictionary.com)
1. the state or quality of being creative.
2. the ability to transcend traditional ideas, rules, patterns, relationships, or the like, and to create meaningful new ideas, forms, methods, interpretations, etc.; originality, progressiveness, or imagination:
“the need for creativity in modern industry; creativity in the performing arts.”
3. the process by which one utilizes creative ability:
“Extensive reading stimulated his creativity.”

When people first see my drawings or other artwork, one of the most common reactions is “You’re so creative. I could never do that!” I usually smile and thank them, but the undertone of longing makes me wish I could convince them that I’m not really anything special. I firmly believe that everyone is creative; they just don’t recognize their own creative abilities because somehow Creativity has become something that Artists do, not something “regular” people can do.

When you come up with a new way of organizing a workflow so your coworkers can be more efficient, you are being creative. When you need something fast to serve your family for dinner, and throw something together with whatever ingredients you can find, you are being creative. When your child is screaming because you forgot to bring his rattle on your shopping trip, and you toss some change into a baby bottle for him to play with, you are being creative (under pressure, which is even more difficult!)

Everyone is creative in dozens of different ways every day, but at some point, the word creative was given an importance in our minds and assigned as a quality that only a few rare individuals possess. The definition of creativity includes this important phrase – “originality, progressiveness, or imagination” – and I think this is a key point. Everyone is unique; everyone has an imagination. It’s part of what makes us human. Without the ability to imagine, we would probably still be living in caves.

Growing up, despite the dozens of different creative projects I would get into, including such jewels as a 2 foot tall toothpick pagoda (with sliding doors) and a 3-foot tall Tyrannosaurus Rex made from toothpicks and cellophane, I would firmly deny that I was “an artist.” It took years for me to shake off the belief that artists were people like my mom, who attended the Art Institute of Chicago, painted with oils, and could whip up a recognizable portrait on the back of a napkin in less than 5 minutes. I couldn’t do that, so clearly I wasn’t an artist.

Since this site is all about coloring, let’s talk about that. Give 10 people the same coloring page, and you will get 10 very different finished pieces. Yet, if you asked those 10 people if they were creative, the chances are many of them would say no. But every choice they made when coloring that image was a creative choice. What colors do I like? What color would look best next to this aqua I chose? Do I want to color all of these circles the same, or use a variety of colors? All of these types of questions are the same ones that artist’s ask when creating a new piece of art.

One of the main reasons I love teaching is seeing how people take the ideas I teach and use their own unique vision to bring them to life, often giving me a new direction to explore that I would have never thought of on my own. The creativity of my students can sometimes transcend my own!

I’d like for us to reclaim the term creativity as a quality that applies to everyone. I’d like for us all to recognize our creative side and explore it. Take up your colored pencils or markers or other chosen drawing device, and play. Give yourself free reign to create your own designs or color a design with outrageous colors. Find your inner child – the creativity of children always amazes me – and express your own personality in your coloring.

Come color with me – let’s be creative!

7 comments on “Creativity and You – Finding Our Creative Selves”