Tuesday, August 12, 2014

The Creative Urge

I gave a talk the other day for a church service on Creativity so I thought I would share it here too.

The Creative Urge – Just where does it come from, is there a little creativity fairy that takes her wand and taps people on the head to inspire them. Or is it a genetic trait passed on down in families. Sometimes I think its just a habit.

 Most people who know me, would describe me as creative. But where did that creativity come from. I came from a lower middle class family in a suburb of Detroit Michigan. There were 6 children in the family, so we didn't have much. My mother sewed most of our clothes. So as a young girl I learned to sew too. As I look back on that time, I realize that my mother sewed so much, because we wouldn't have had, many clothes otherwise. So in a sense my creativity came from a need. You want something, then you make it, I still relate to that thought. I often see things and I don't buy them because I know I could make them. I want the experience of making them in addition to having them. Its probably why I have continued to learn new things, my entire life.

 Sewing was the only thing my mother could teach me, so I sought out other ways to learn new skills. A friend taught me to embroider, a sister in law to crochet. I took classes to learn to spin, weave and knit. I explored art when I was young, but I gave it up when I felt, I was not good enough. I continued to take classes in painting or drawing here, and there but never pushed beyond my fears until my next defining moment.

 That was when I sprained my ankle, about 8 years ago, I was immobile for a long time. With the internet as my only entertainment, my love of creating art was rekindled. I decided then and there that I would become the artist I always thought I was. I began a journey of taking risks, learning new things, stepping back to evaluate, and then plunging ahead again. Creativity is not linear, its a spiral process. Doubt can creep in anywhere and we need to work oursleves back out again. Creativity also has natural cycles or rythms that occur throughout the year. Sometime you are in the flow with so many ideas bursting out of your head that you can't sleep and other times you just can't seem to get going. It's just the nature of creativity, and you learn how to accept the flow, and work with it.

 There is way more to creativity than just making things. When I am being creative either by spinning, weaving, painting and drawing, I am getting something back, besides a finished project. Each activity seems to do something different for me. When I am drawing something, I really look at it, get to know it, I feel the energy, the essence of the thing. It makes me appreciate everything more. When I spin yarns, its relaxing to me, I have a connection to the sheep who gave the wool, the shepherd who raised it, and all the women before me who did the same thing. Its such a pleasant activity, and I get an amazing product when I am finished.

Weaving is more cerebral, there is the math and calulating and figuring out if some new idea will work. Once I've made my plans, chosen my yarns, warped the loom and began to weave, it is like all these parts intersect to create something that wasn't there before. It is emmensly satisfying and always leads me to the question “What if I try this” how would that work. It always leads me to the next project.

When I am doing an intuitive painting or art journal page its another kind of journey. I start in one place, and I end up in another one, that I had not anticipated. The painting changes, it morphs into something new, something unplanned. It is different and so am I. We go on a journey together, so much of me goes right into the paint. When looking at pieces created this way, you can not help but feel the emotions of the artist. When I am creative I learn more about myself and the process, and the world as I see it. Often its about how, being creative makes me feel. I truly feel more alive, more at one with the Universe and all there is.

 So what inspires me to create something. Initially I think its three things, color, texture and nature all inspire me. New Ideas inspire me, what other artists create inspire me. Just the other day I drove by a train, and was inspired by a railroad car. It had once been red, but its color had faded to pink and there was rust on the car that had a cool pattern of drips going down it. It was a striking combination. Immediately I thought oh alizarin crimson and white to make the pink and some burnt sienna for the rust. I can't wait, to try the combination out in my journal. Or I'll see colors in nature or texture that make me think of a weave structure, and it might lead to creating unusual yarns and patterns. The world is full of inspiration, sometimes I'll see something over and over again, so I know its time the put that into my art. If the Universe sends that many messages, its up to me to give them form.

 There is something about making something from hand, that is more than just the act of taking certain materials and making them into something else. Its about the process, the amount of pleasure you get from it, but something else happens too. Creativity changes you in ways you can't measure. Everyone is creative and that means you too, even if you don't think you are, you have the potential to be creative. You just need to take some time to discover it.

The color of this page was inspired by the railroad car.


  1. Kate, this is a wonderful piece about creativity. Many of the ways you learned about creating were similar to mine. I especially love the last paragraph, and totally agree. I love the process of creating and whatever comes out of that is icing on the cake.

    1. Janet, I am glad you enjoyed the speech. When I gave it at church, several people were very inspired by it and that made me happy.


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