Uncovering Creativity

Padlebrett ved Bay View State Park

If you look up to the very right of my blog you see that the words «Creativity is within us all». That’s because I really believe creativity is accessible to everyone. Yes, we often hear or read this or that artist has an amazing talent – meaning he or she was giving a gift by birth that makes him or her more creative than other people. I am not denying there is such a feature as talent, but being creative doesn’t only relate to someone who is a van Gogh or an Avedon. Creativity can be expressed in so many different ways. Some do it with painting, some with photography, some with how they furnish their home, some through cooking, some with words, some with dance, some with playfulness. And so on. There are no limits to how we can express our creativity. And we all have access to it, one way or another. Sometimes we just have to rediscover our creative well.

It’s true a lot of us forget to stay creative as we grow older, but didn’t we all paint or play or build with toy blocks when we were kids? What was that if not being creative? Some of us are able to keep the mind open and stay playful even as we grow up – which is a prerequisite for creativity. But for nobody does creativity come easy or by itself, not even for the most talented ones. If you don’t stay in touch with your creative well, it will slowly wither and disappear out of sight. But even when you can’t see or connect to your creative well any more it’s still there. You just have to dig it out again. It might take some work, but it’s there.

Too often I here someone say «I don’t have any talent». And too often I believe it’s an excuse for not trying to connect with whatever creativity they might have. They have given up, or they think of talent as a wishful quality they were never given access to. But the truth is if we don’t want to work to stay creative even the most talented will loose their creativity. The good thing, though, is that even the most «untalented» has an abundance of creativity within her- or himself. Having said this it might not come as a surprise I really don’t think there are any untalented persons. Whoever thinks of theme self as untalented, only need to uncover their creative well.

This is really the bottom line. Creativity is something to be uncovered, not something to be wished for. And when you start to uncover it – simply by starting from wherever you are creatively speaking and not expecting masterpieces right away – you will find that it is not a scarce resource that runs out if you draw on it. On the contrary, the more creative you are the more creative you become. The fact is creativity is limitless. As long as you keep staying creative, you will never run out of it.

115 thoughts on “Uncovering Creativity

  1. Absolutely agree. I used to think I didn’t have a shred of creativity within me until I went to a mandala workshop in my late ‘forties and suddenly started painting. I found I work with symbols and visionary art, can’t draw people, still life and landscapes for toffee, not interested. And I’m as happy as Larry. Trouble is, too many people see creative as art, writing or music, without realising it covers the whole spectrum of human activity – whatever feeds your heart and soul.

  2. “Creativity is something to be uncovered, not something to be wished for.” Such a profound description and extremely hopeful too. Thanks Otto.

  3. this made me think of two things; first – a quote that i love, “When my daughter was about seven years old, she asked me one day what I did at work. I told her I worked at the college – that my job was to teach people how to draw. She stared back and me, incredulous, and said, “You mean they forget?” (Howard Ikemoto)

    the second is paulo coehlo’s “afraid to fight the good fight” theme – http://paulocoelhoblog.com/2013/03/06/the-good-fight-3/

    as always, it’s a joy to read your posts!

  4. Creativity certainly does manifest itself in different ways, and I agree that the more creative you are, the more creative you become. However, the scientist in me does believe some people are ‘wired up’ towards creativity more than others…or is it that they are more receptive to creativity?

    1. I certainly see that some people are more wired up towards creativity – as you say – but I don’t think talent is a limitation for anyone’s creativity. It might take some more work for some than for others.

  5. I have to agree with you wholeheartedly, Otto.

    Many people draw a line between being artistic and creative (or using the right side of their brain) and using the left side (i.e. facts, logic and figures). Of course research shows that both sides are used and it only requires some training or ‘educating’ to bring out each. When one side of our brain is damaged, the other side takes over and adapts – bringing a whole new level of research into teaching stroke or brain damaged people. Just as people who’ve lost one of their senses e.g. sight, naturally develop their other senses to a higher degree e.g. their sense of touch, or hearing.

    I used to work in an Accounts office using computers & accounts work for most of my adult life, but I actually studied art, design and drafting at secondary & tertiary level, and graphics (at one stage while working) and worked in the fashion industry for a few years before I set off travelling overseas.

    I worked for a school for the last 16 years of my working life and decided to join their 4.00pm figure drawing class. I had to leave my office a little early on Tuesdays, but when I entered the art room, I found I couldn’t draw any figures realistically for about the first 30-40 minutes, then I gradually ‘acclimatised’ or started using my creative side and by the end of each Tuesday’s class, could draw as well as when I was studying art & fashion drawing (in my youth). This happened every single week without fail.

    Now I’m retired, I have to work really hard at doing personal accounts etc because I spend most of the day behind the camera lens on or the computer playing around with photo editing. Cropping, defining contrast – just doing little tweaks to improve my images and make them look a bit more balanced (as I can’t see as well through the camera lens with thick glasses on).

    Needless to say, now I’m not working, some days I can barely add 2 and 2 together.

    I might add, at school I got honours in Maths as well as in Art, so perhaps one might suggest I used both sides of my brain at school and adapted back & forth between the creative and the logic/factual processes equally? What do you think?

    1. What you say about the right and left side of the brain, and how the brain works by using either sides or a combination, is really interesting. I knew that when parts of the brain is damaged other parts will take over, but I didn’t know that how you use your brain so dramatically effect how it’s working. Amazing that you start over with using the rational part and then slowly turn to the creative part during those Tuesday classes. I certainly do think it’s possible to use equally both sides of the brain as you say. Thanks for sharing your experience, Vicki.

  6. Beautiful image and words to live by! I think you’re right that all children can play creatively. They spend a lot of time with make-believe and building things that represent something to them — which reminds me that I need to play more often because as you say, the more we pull from that well, the more we find in it. Great post.

  7. So true! It’s a matter of will I think because some people are too lazy to try it out or to dig it deeper. 🙂
    Thanks for sharing this. 🙂

  8. I really liked this post. I was a pianist most of my life…that was my hobby. Now that I can’t play, I took up photography a few years ago, more seriously in the last year. Creativity is so important no matter what medium because it gives us a chance to uniquely express ourselves and also to challenge ourselves.

  9. Extraordinary post, I totally agree with you.

    keep the mind open and stay playful

    – as simple as that, it makes the whole life a lot easier, and yet sometimes it’s so difficult to keep at!

  10. Reblogged this on Almofate and commented:
    I don’t usually reblog other people’s posts, it seems to me like some kind of cheating, but here is an exception!
    Unveiling and dis-mystifying creativity, an extraordinary post by Otto von Münchow that I vividly recommend: – … ‘keep the mind open and stay playful’ …
    And please, if you like it as I hope you will, visit the original and hit the ‘like’ button there!

    Normalmente não republico artigos de outras pessoas, porque me parece uma espécie de batota, mas aqui está uma excepção!
    Desvendando e desmistificando a creatividade, um artigo extraordinário de Otto von Münchow que recomendo vivamente: … ‘manter a mente aberta e o espírito brincalhão’ …
    E por favor, se gostarem dele como espero que gostem, visitem o original e cliquem lá no ‘like’!

  11. Thank you Otto for this and your many posts that remind us of our own creativity. I especially responded to this one. I spent decades in I.T. and have been struggling to recover. Photography gives me permission to play and explore. And I have been reading & doing the work recommended by Julia Cameron in her book “The Creative Way”. Finally, finally, I am branching out to explore other creative options.

    I am reminded of the very very wealthy, many of whom end up as art collectors. In the end, art and community is what lasts.

  12. Thank you for reminding us of this perspective. I quite agree. And thanks to Almofate for reblogging this post, as it brought me here to read the words.
    To the well, and the journey of ladling its nectar!

  13. This is so true. I think we have to hone our talents … you don’t become a great painter overnight …. you have to find your style. Same with anything. Different types of maths, sciences, etc …. we just have to practice. I think for me, it’s always been photography (even when I was shooting with a 1megapixel camera hahaha). But I also dabbled in drawing …. which I am still trying to get back into. Because if you don’t use it, you lose it!

  14. A heartfelt post full of wisdom that is inherent to creativity. I wish this could be printed on the front page of every main stream newspaper, and that more people could be open to their own creative well. I think the the world would be a better place. Thanks for expressing this in simple words Otto.

  15. Creativity is a continuum. It allows us to be as fully actualized or only slightly. I’m pleased that you continue to touch on this subject, because it is a human quality that filters through our day and night. Regardless, we must embrace it’s infinite possibilities.

  16. A teacher used to say it is 10% talent and the rest is practice.I say the same to my friends who state that they are not creative. Thanks for igniting a spark, Otto.

  17. Sometimes it takes someone to wake another person from their thoughts of negativity, of thinking they have no creativity. There is a person I do not even know at all, other than here on WordPress, that encouraged me to begin with photography. I owe him a lot. I know your words as well will help countless people begin to think that they can get started in uncovering their well.

  18. Creativity comes in so many different guises, and if it is in a less obvious disguise perhaps we don’t always recognize it for what it is. Creativity is perhaps like a muscle – once we uncover it, if we exercise it regularly it will get stronger. Another well-written approach to Creativity, Otto.

  19. What an uplifting and insightful post. I think for some creativity is drummed out of them at an early age. For others, perhaps fear and self-doubt come into play. And we forget what is was like to embrace the world through the eyes of a child. @ Playamart-Zeebra Designs comment from her daughter… “You mean they forget?” 😀 I’ll be thinking about that for a long time. Cheers!

  20. Great post Otto, I like how you say that creativity is something to be uncovered and not ‘wished’ for… I could not agree more. Something special shines in us all, just need to seek it out (like a child) and perhaps even more so was we get older. Cheers!

  21. Thanks Otto….creativity is an interesting concept and word. I like yr image of a well. Recently I attended a workshop on mindfulness and one of the topics was about the process of creating… how does someone create … possibly by embracing or or being present with whatever is …..being open to…..and at the same time taking care not to respond reactively or habitually, but to be still and allow some time and space for contemplation and possible paths to emerge. I am/was very interested in this way of being with/in the world. ( courtesy of Stephen Batchelor)….im still making sense of all this….im excited.

  22. doesn’t being creative mean you have to do the work too? I’m thinking that stops some people cold.

  23. So true. I think the stumbling block for a lot of people is equating creativity with being artistic. Many of us are not artists but we are still creative. Creativity is merely having a different/interesting/original perspective and expressing it.

  24. Wonderful post, Otto. I find that when I am creating, it is as healing as any form of meditation might be for creativity seems to automatically still unrelated mind chatter. For example, I often say that when I am photographing something, time stands still. Creativity offers a place of peace, like no other, for it feeds our souls. And if we can stay away from comparisons, all the better!! Have a great day.

    1. The way you describe your photographic process is often referred to as been in flow – or as I say tunnel vision. And it certainly has much in common with meditation; being in the now and being completely focused. Thank you for the comment, Shari.

  25. Fabulous post Otto. Creativity is indeed to be discovered. Human beings are creative by nature I believe, we just need to find our genre, the thing that gives us the avenue we need to explore it. 🙂

  26. So many important ideas in this post. Makes me think of Clarissa Pinkola Estes who assures us that everyone is an artist, but most of us live in cultures which largely undervalue creativity for its own sake. Or we have to be Pulitzer prize winners and its equivalent to be considered valuable or taken seriously. Artistic expression commodified. Sad. Thanks for visiting the Massena Palace by the way.

  27. Agree wholeheartedly Otto – and also with many of the comments. I can’t draw a lick but the camera allows me to express my visual creativity, while blogging adds creative writing. Interesting how, like Viveka the creative outlets I loved in my 20s (which were dormant during my career in technology), came back full-force when I retired and had time to refocus on them. Who says there’s no advantage to growing older?! 🙂

  28. Oj, nu blev det helt fel!!
    Skyndar mig att skriva, att tacka för dina ord hos mig och jag håller med dig i (nästan) allt du skriver här ovan.
    Jag satt och skrev här, ett långt svar, nästan en roman…och så försvann den ut i cyberrymden när jag skulle avsluta. Orkar inte skriva om just nu, men jag återkommer.
    Tack så länge, vi hörs!

  29. Well said… only today I saw a grown man playing in the surf like he was 6 years old again, catching the white water waves and having the time of his life! Turns out this guy was Tom Wegener, master board shaper and surfing legend. I spoke to him and he said it’s good to be a kid from time to time and have some fun. I think we can all learn a lesson from this. Thanks for sharing.

  30. I think too many people have this mental image of what “creative” is. Nonsense, it’s what you want it to be. I can say from my own experience, the people I have worked with who tell me they are not creative, simply amaze me with their work or photographs. They don’t know the “rules” so there is nothing to break. Some inspiring work! People need to tap into this “creative within” when they don’t feel creative. The more they do, the more they become creative. For me, when I am not in creative mode for a long time, I don’t feel myself.

  31. Could not agree more, Otto. My motto is “create every day” ;-). It’s doesn’t matter what you create or how it looks, just create. This will keep your creative flow going on and on. Wonderful blogpost!

  32. Loved this post! Aaah, it was so good to read it, it kind of reaffirmed what I believe in. A few weeks ago, I was sharing something quite similar with a friend. It was more about ”playful child within us” than ”creativity”, but I think they overlap. 🙂

  33. Too many times people will look at something I have created and say, “Wow, you’re so talented. I wish I was like that.” First of all, I never quite seem to see myself that way. And second of all, I want to say back that, “No you don’t. The world doesn’t need another me. The world needs you. And you need to tap into your creative energy.” Whatever it is. Too much recognition, too many awards and too much competition in life have caused some harm as well as good. There are many creative people, myself included, who simply like to create something for its own sake. Often fear of not being recognized can serve as a paralytic, especially to someone who is successful in their regular daily field of work. They don’t understand how freeing it can be to just let go of the outcome and express themselves. My sister took a watercolor class and produced some lovely pictures. But she will not pick up the brush again because she said it was too much work. To each his own, I suppose.

    1. Too often the desire to get recognized or the fear of the opposite does prevent a creative person to become genuine creative. And, yes, you are right, the world doesn’t need another whoever already exists, but only a person himself or herself. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Cheryl.

  34. Great insights and stated so well. You are inspiring a lot of people. I thank you for that. Your photo captures the mighty adventures of boys who are busy conquering their world, and a lovely world it is, too. Nicely done. It brings back some memories of little adventures that I had along the way.

  35. Such a very inspirational post, Otto. My sister only discovered that she is a fantastic artist, when she was in her 50’s. I re-kindled my piano skills, only in middle age and have done so much with them. Being creative gives us a real purpose in life, and also keeps us young. 😉

  36. This is so true, Otto. There are times when it seems the well has run dry but if you can find that one small drop to work with before you know it you are carrying a pail and if you really get on a roll you could end up swimming in an ocean of creativity.

  37. I work hard to support programs that help people uncover their creativity because I believe it makes the world a better place when people are happier and motivated and connected…which is the transformation I’ve seen so many times as people have the opportunity to be creative. Thanks for your post…I agree wholeheartedly. Here’s to arts education of all forms!!!

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