“Creativity, as has been said, consists largely of rearranging what we know in order to find out what we do not know. Hence, to think creatively, we must be able to look afresh at what we normally take for granted.”
Thoughts on Creativity
Musings by our staff and facilitators
Here we share our occasional thoughts about the creative process, illustrating how it applies to more than just making art. Creativity can be an integral part of our lives, providing inspiration and direction. We welcome a conversation through your comments about our musings.
Children are an inspiration. They instinctively know how to imagine their way into life. They don’t have to be taught – they just DO. Somewhere in the growing up process it became more difficult for most of us to be so present in our imaginary worlds. I know I have forgotten how to do this with any ease. Every once in a while I can touch into this creative place, usually when I am with my grandchildren. They are such excellent teachers. I am so grateful for their innocent presence. They keep me stimulated and questioning and fascinated with the world. Here is a piece I wrote on a day my grandson Mathew helped me to grow in love.
THE LITTLE GENERAL
Carol Lynn Mathew-Rogers
October 9, 2018
He was so quiet that I had to walk away from my seemingly important computer work to see what he was up to. It was only a short hour ago that I had met with my daughter out on the corner of Hazel & Curragh Downs Road, transferring her youngest son into my care as she raced off to college. His arms were clutching his grey 12 inch saber (it’s not real, Gigi, he said when I noticed it), his nubby green ball and a tiny Lego motorcycle ridden by a black helmeted soldier with red fire coming off his shoulders. His oversized cap, covered in the bright neon colors of superheroes everywhere, was firm on his small head, covering up his recently trimmed hair that was changing hues as he grew; reds, golds and shiny browns, capable of eliciting sighs of pleasure from any grown woman lucky enough to see it.
When we got into the house he went immediately to move the Lego box from the corner of the living room, claiming the only rug in the house as his own. “No thank you” he said to the offer of more breakfast, and then he was off to a distant land of make believe. I had moved into my office, but now went in search of him again.
He didn’t seem to notice my presence at all. His compact five-year-old body was planted in front of the couch on his knees, shoes kicked off, hat askew, as he mumbled to the army staged in front of him. To the left, Lego-built vehicles: cars, motorcycles, even a small train, lined up shoulder to shoulder precariously balanced at the front edge of the leather seat cushion. Directly in front of him, a cluster of fierce dragons: the largest ice blue one, the angry red middle one and the only slightly more tranquil green dragon, flanked by three tiny dragons of various hues. Their snarling tooth-filled mouths agape, they stood frozen in poses of power and strength. To his right, a troop of star wars characters: miniature figures that Grandma bought for herself but that every one of her five grandsons cherished as important members of ever imaginary war. And finally, the row of 1-inch tall pewter knights: men at arms ready to do whatever it took to win the day.
Later he would try to count them all, not able to get past 25 or so before getting confused, so we counted them together: 53 characters in all. He was very impressed! But before the counting, I was only aware of the magnitude of his troops, all lined up ready for battle, and how focused he was on staging the whole scene. His small fingers moved various figures from here to there, and his whispered orders were interspersed with guttural sounds of gunfire and the occasional moan as someone died in battle. I stayed to watch, my work forgotten, as this little general, lost in the intricate maneuverings of war, entrenched himself even deeper into my heart.
A look back at historical Creative Edge posts
Originally posted in 1989
by Donald Mathews
Typically in the arts, the focus is on the art object or performance—the outward
expression. Then, critique identifies what has been done right or wrong
according to the prevailing standard without regard for the inward motivation or
feelings of the artist. The few TALENTED quickly do so much right they easily
excel. By comparison the remaining become the UNTALENTED. This usually
occurs at an early age and is reinforced over the years. Consequently, a lower
level of self-esteem and performance is adopted in the arts that feels appropriate
for the now hidden harsh and very painful early judgmental experiences. Even
when inspired again, motivation to excel quickly dies. Most people fall into this
highly self-critical second category.
ARTISTIC OR CREATIVE EXPRESSION IS NATURAL TO ALL HUMAN
BEINGS. We all have a natural unique ability to sing, dance, draw, paint, act,
write, etc. Unless we have a physical disadvantage, the matter of talent is usually
psychological shaped by forgotten experiences of long ago and can be changed
once this is understood. Therefore, to reclaim the natural gift of creativity, I feel
it is essential for all of us to examine deeply, clearly, and with love, who we
really are as particular unique individuals. Then, blocks, misconceptions, and
distorted self images that we or the society carries as normal, can be changed as
we joyfully learn the craft of artistic expression.
For me, growth, development, education, and healing are all synonymous. They
all have moved me toward my own fully functioning human potential. This life
long task has a natural rhythm and mystery uniquely my own because of my own
particular experiences and perceptions. It is my journey and creative strength. I
feel the creative process is my most powerful human resource. It is the source
and way I know the grace of the divine; it is the gift of my very own spiritual
essence. It has been how I have found inner peace and freedom.
In my life journey I have discovered many edges or barriers to knowing myself.
Perhaps one of the most difficult to overcome was my deep resistance to owning
my own imagination and creative abilities. I did not honor my own sacred
creative vision or muse. Therefore, over the first half century of my life, I
denied it. However, a few special people supported me in my quest with
unconditional love and then I was slowly able to discover the very human person
I am: with various faults, but highly creative, imaginative, expressive, and also
deeply caring about my fellow travelers on the planet. I hope you are called to
this quest. If so, I invite you to join with us in the creative search.
A look back at historical Creative Edge posts
April 9, 2018
Originally posted in 2007
by Carol Mathew-Rogers
Today is the first day of this new year, 2007. I sit at my desk and ponder my connection to The Creative Edge: The Way of the Arts. As a new board member at large, I have the opportunity to write about anything that catches my attention. I look over my notes from my first board meeting, and one phrase stands out to me now: “Strong inner core, with outside flexibility.” This, then, is where my musings begin…
Images come to my mind as I ponder this phrase: reeds thrashing in wind-whipped meadows as summer storms pound the earth… delicate white birch trees swaying side to side as winter snow swirls angrily. These images remind me of the strength of seemingly fragile living things. Thriving, growing plants hold fast during the tempests of their environments, flexible enough to move without breaking, with inner pith protected and rooted, connected to the juices of life.
I remember time spent in my small backyard garden. The flowers bend under the weight of the water sprinkling from my hose, so delicate that a single snap of my fingers could separate them from the earth, yet they do not break. I can walk away from a whole garden of nodding blooms whose petals have become so saturated that they kiss the earth instead of reaching for the sun, and yet when I return, they stand at attention again, restored to their proud and beautiful poses as if by magic. This isn’t the magic, though, of outward action where pure strength overcomes all odds. The flowers do not win against the water by the force of their actions. No, this is the magic of connection to what flows inside—this is the magic of allowing the life force within to swell up from deep inside to strengthen walls and reinforce channels. This is the magic of a need so strong that exterior conditions have little power against that which dwells within. And I ask myself: where does inner strength with outside flexibility live in my life?
Sitting in silence, the answer comes quietly. Each day I struggle against the waves of busyness that threaten to overwhelm me. There is so much to do! There is so little time to do it all! My storms come not in the guise of thunderous rain clouds or blistering winds, but rather as endless lists of “Things to do.” If I allow it, the repeated battering of obligations, chores and accomplishments would sweep me from my spiritual and creative moorings, leaving me dying under their deadly wash. I must take my lesson from the delicate plants, and allow myself to bend and flex with environmental assaults. My emotional reactions to the pressures of family and job can be fluid and limber, instead of explosive and painful. My strength comes from nourishing that living force inside myself whose roots run deep into my psychological and spiritual nature. For me, creativity and visual art are the tools to keeping this connection flowing. I must be a living expression of strong inner core, with outside flexibility if I am to truly thrive. And with this newly expressed realization, I feel a certain measure of peace blossoming within my heart. I know this year will be a good one.
Originally posted in 1989 by Creative Edge founder Donald Mathews in his first newsletter:
Originally posted in 1994
July 29, 2017
Originally published 1989
By Don Mathews
The great arc of life has symmetry and meaning as we cycle through four major phases of approximately two decades each. In the initial stage we are nurtured into adulthood by family and culture. In the second phase, as we gain independence, we move actively into the outer world to gain experience and confidence from its vast knowledge. In accordance with our spirit, we also begin to build a foundation for personal wisdom. A third phase starts near mid-life after we have encountered life’s hardships and begin to quiet outwardly while learning to reconcile pain and opposing forces as they are reflected inward. In this phase we take the great inner journey that must be completed alone to develop compassion and soul. In the final phase, we begin the return to a community of deeply spiritual beings to give back to life—to nurture creation itself.
I discovered recently how my interest and involvement with the arts in mid-life was the necessary vehicle and gateway to understanding the third stage of my development. I knew that our human artistic abilities—abilities of the fine arts— to sing, dance, imagine stories and images and express them were innate to all humans. Although these abilities are often guarded by great personal fears. In our culture most adults have not owned their artistic abilities—I had disowned them myself in the sixth grade and needed to reclaim this heritage together with the ability to work with dreams as the necessary vehicle to explore my inner world.
However, I intuitively knew the arts were leading me to something else beside a second career as a professional artist. I now understand the major transition I still am in—entry into the fourth and final stage. My strong goal oriented drive has always hid my capacity to simply enjoy the life process in whatever form it appears, so I have been learning to listen to the pleasure of my heart as it calls me to creative expression for its own sake, not for an outside goal.
In some mysterious way, when we learn to listen to the murmurings of our heart and have the courage to act on them creatively, we are answering our personal call to participate in creation at the deepest level. Thus we fulfill our divine life destiny regardless of the phase or stage we are in.
Board of Directors
Thoughts on Creativity
Each Board Member has looked at what theme is active or has their attention, reflecting or musing on it as an artist from a creative process point of view.
January 2017 Laura Carley: The dark winter season often poses challenges to my connection with the creative flow. Holiday distractions meld with the desire to indulge in warm blankets of comfort. I imagine my muse being content, enough, curled up on a pillow beside to...
January 2017 Kyla Cyr: Dream work continues as a threshold, which catches my attention and brings creative growth. I had this dream where I am in this oceanfront house that is For Sale in the $300,000 range; I am thinking that we can afford it. There are white walls...
January 2017 Donald Mathews: As I looked back through my thoughts on creativity for A’musings over the last 20 years, these favorite pet thoughts of mine reemerged as relevant once more, particularly in times of change like these. “Trust the process! Have courage!...
January 2017 Carol Mathew-Rogers: Yesterday I received in the mail an unexpected gift from a woman whose insights and thoughts are always pearls of wisdom, which I highly value. A simple offering obviously made with love, it is an image carefully cut out and pasted...