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Improve Your Life Through Art

HOW TO IMPROVE YOUR LIFE THROUGH ART

I have taught hundreds of students over the past fifty years at community colleges, private schools, and private studios. One thing I’ve realized is that many of us think that people who are creative are gifted. They are born with certain creative talents and those who are not imbued with these special tendencies are doomed to an uncreative life. Example: “I can draw a straight line!” Or “I can’t even draw a stick figure!”

But they are wrong. What I have discovered is that we are ALL creatively gifted. As human beings we are hardwired to be creative and this tendency served us well in ancient times. Think about it. We invented spears to hunt animals for food, invented the wheel to get where we needed to go, and discovered agriculture by collecting seeds, planting them to provide food for our families. All these and many other advances that led to civilization as we know it today were born out of our combined informational knowledge and creative endeavours: observation, visualization, problem solving, imagination and invention. All these creative skills enhanced our survival in the present.

RICH LEARNING

The parts of our brains that are developed towards invention, imagination and problem solving are very much alive and well in our brains today. If we recognize our innate creative abilities and adapt them to our future creative goals, we see that we can contribute greatly to the enrichment of the human race. Unfortunately, many cultures, including our own, often demystify the power of creativity as an important global unifying developmental factor, preferring more primitive and aggressive tactics such as war, repression, and political domination.

In the United States today, we like to think that supporting math and science in education guarantees our dominance on the educational front. And, in the global community, indeed, these skills are very important to our progress. But if only memorization and repetition of facts drives the education of math, science, and all other fields of learning, we are selling our students short, depriving them of the resource of creativity that will integrate them into global needs.

If academic studies dived deeper into creative educational applications such as problem solving, design, invention, research and development, a richer learning experience would propel students more successfully into the global future. A full range of learning, combining the basic knowledge skills required by the subject combined with creative skills that require students to apply, these skills to research, invent, visualize – this is the broadening of knowledge we need to address a deeper, richer and more compelling drive to improve our actual and future worlds.

MY CREATIVE EXPERIENCE

In my life I have experienced this creative transition, having applied my creative skills to reinvent or solve problems in various jobs. In teaching art. I have worked to teach and develop this same transition to my students who come from many backgrounds including: psychotherapy, engineers, medical technicians, writers, authors, retail associates, and financial advisors.

When I was a kid, I used to draw and my parents and grandparents would compliment me on the little drawings and paintings I did. They said I was gifted with artistic talent. And, of course, their praise made me continue to draw and paint.

My teaching experience brought me into contact with people who had the same desire to imagine, envision and create early on, but were discouraged from going any further. Rejection from a teacher, family member, peer, or no encouragement at all easily destroyed their fragile and developing creative impulse. As I said before, we are all hard to create – it is the part of our brain that enables us to advance ourselves in our lives beyond our daily tasks, previous schedules, routines and commitments to fantasy , visualization and yes. he dreams

WHAT I TELL MY STUDENTS

When my students tell me they’d like to learn how to draw or paint but haven’t done anything in years because someone said they made a dumb drawing or that real learning involved memorizing facts and numbers and that anything creative was just fluff- apologize; as if their need to paint or draw was a stupid waste of time even if they were so compelled to do so. I tell them that their quest is great and noble because their full enrichment includes not only knowledge, but also inspiration. I’m saying they already have the ability to create and it’s time they start learning how to reap the rich rewards of their creative endeavors.

This dialogue touches a wide demographic – the young, the middle-aged and the elderly who need to make their lives better in some way. My younger students often feel disenfranchised by a society that emphasizes rote learning. My middle-aged students feel like they’ve lost something vital in their lives – what they want to create, learn how to draw or paint because their work, even their leisure, hasn’t satisfied them. Older seniors often feel that their lives have passed them by, even if they have been successful and comfortably retired. These are the common profiles of the students I teach and this is their main underlying theme of needing to teach. What they all share in common is the need to use a part of their brain that needs to be activated and has not been activated through their daily lives and endeavors.

CREATIVITY IS A PLACE

Creativity is a place we go. It has no limits or definitions. I know this site from my own work as an artist and can see the site linking to students. There is a noticeable change in thinking when this location is approached. This place is a safe haven for inspiration, to get to know your innate creative self – the one that connects you to your dreams, imagination and visions. It’s often a scary but powerful resource that feels weird, good, and self-empowering.

Much research and development in many fields, including medicine, science, literature, computer science, is done through the combination of knowledge and inspiration. Knowledge alone will not create a better product, idea or world. Knowledge has boundaries, fences, and barriers that often prevent inspiration from entering to move toward a higher goal or need.

A student once remarked to me after I had given my “Inspiration vs. Knowledge” lecture:

“Okay, so I guess that means that when I’m writing, if I correct my mistakes with a word check, that doesn’t necessarily improve my writing. So, I can use a protractor or a compass in my drawings, but that doesn’t guarantee that the drawing will improve.”

This comment has stuck with me over the years. Yes, knowledge is a standard, but it also requires an infusion of free-range, swimming, primordial pond thinking that develops new ideas that can grow into exciting applications for the betterment of the world.

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