By Ira Bekker, a mosaic artist and facilitator for adult creative explorations who runs workshops in ZenDoodling, mark-making and eco-printing. Visit her website
I started my own creative journey six years ago when I was incubating my second boy. Until then I thought that creativity was something a lucky few are born with. I also limited creativity to artistic expression. Over the last six years my views on creativity have shifted dramatically and through the workshops I do I have found that a lot of the misconceptions and fears adults have around their creativity starts in early childhood.
My most important realisation was that we are all born creative. Many of us loose our connection to our creative spirits through conditioning and negative beliefs we are imprinted with at school and home but in reality we all have access to unlimited ideas, skills and insights that we can ‘download’ from the creative soup. Young children do this all the time if allowed to experience and explore.
The second shift I made was to understand that creativity is simply the yearning or drive to create. It can be to make delicious meals, to play music, to design skyscrapers or a beautiful home and yes, also to create art. As we grow few of us are given half a chance to develop these skills. Instead we are told to focus on sport and end up believing we are not creative.
When I enrolled my two and a half year old son into nursery school I asked if I could have a look at the classrooms to see what they do with the kids creatively. I found the usual prescriptive and contrived sausage machine type ‘art’ and on enquiry the headmistress, who was also a teacher, told me that she was not creative and so the work they do is quite structured. Having watched my little one paint and draw and build with lego countless times I know that creativity does not have to be taught, it is our natural state and should simply be allowed to unfold.
What can we do as adults to nurture creativity? Switch off the TV. Allow them to make a mess. Allow them to do things for themselves and get it ‘wrong’. Allow them to do it their way, to explore and get lost in play without interfering. The main conditions for creative flow are silence, an uninterrupted chunk of time, a space where you can create where you will be allowed to make a mess and materials that you enjoy playing with. Give your child a pot of paint and a piece of paper and allow them to figure it out for themselves or allow them to ransack the recycling and help them stick it together with a glue gun. Dig a hole in the back garden and add a bucket of water. Above all, allow them to take the lead.
Kids love sharing creative processes with their parents and you will learn so much from copying them rather than trying to show them how to do stuff. Paint with your hands, build crazy structures that don’t make sense, smear yourself with mud and shout like a banshee while running all over the garden…They will love you for it!