Obviously, creativity can exist everywhere and in everything, and is not the sole possession of the creative artist. The RC summer readings study creativity from many non-arts related angles, especially as it relates to education and learning. I am offering my thoughts on the practice of creativity not only as one of the performance teachers in the college, but also an active performer on the cello: practicing the creative and interpretive arts is a great way to explore your creative processes. Using them as a gateway to discovering your creative brain is not only smart, but also fun and definitely educational, whether or not you intend to make art your profession and life’s purpose. This is why the RC Arts practicum is an integral part of the curriculum of the college.
Creative artists are often portrayed like magicians or shamans, in control of higher powers and inspirations that strike randomly and are all consuming. In all honesty, the idea of inspiration as the genesis for creativity is a romanticized 19th century product of great PR. I rather like thinking it’s the other way around: creativity is the genesis for the inspirations and if your creative brain is active, ideas will come. If you sit around twiddling your thumbs, waiting for inspiration to ascend from the heavens you might have to wait a long time. If you get lucky, and it happens to come anyway, what then? If you haven’t developed the necessary competence to follow through on the inspiration, it will only really exist in your head, and maybe your heart. I would rather it become something real and substantial!
“Creativity is a habit, and the best creativity is the result of good work habits.” (Dancer Twyla Tharp). The most successful artists are mostly kind of boring, and, usually, incredibly self-disciplined and organized. I, too, am a great fan of the creative habit. It is an active practice of daily creativity, best done at the same time each day, meticulously organized and grounded in skill, or in building of a skill. It is important to define the skill: it could be as conventional as playing the C Major scale perfectly in tune on the cello, or as broadly defined as taking the sounds in your daily environment and organizing them into a piece of music in your chosen medium (recorded, live, rhythmic, vocal, improvised, composed etc). Creative habit is setting up conditions in such a way that they enable the creative processes in your brain – once those processes are activated, creativity is easy. And, in the most wonderful, or at times inconvenient and messy ways, they carry over to all activities, not just the artistic ones.
There are several facts about my own creative brain that I know to be true:
1. It does not get activated on facebook or e-mail. Most often the best ideas come shortly after I have started my daily practicing, while doing the warm-ups that essentially stay the same every day.
2. It needs time, space and freedom, not only to work through the idea but also to let the subconscious mind process the new information or discovery
3. It wants to be grounded in a discipline that needs constant, active nurturing
4. It finds working with limits often liberating, and helpful
So what can YOU do to explore your creative processes in the RC? I guess first you have to decide the medium – painting, printing, ceramics, writing fiction, plays or poetry, acting, playing an instrument, singing, composing, improvising…and then go do it, every day! Instead of waiting around for the inspiration to come, enroll in an arts class, start learning a skill and practice every day.