When it comes to sharing the creative process with others, often times, it can be trickier than one would anticipate. It goes back to what I mentioned in my previous post, which is intimidation. For years, we’re taught “good” art is the kind that accurately represents our surroundings. If this wasn’t your cup of tea, however, you likely had the misfortune of being taught art wasn’t for you. So how do we help others get over this, so they can experience the joys of creating?
Create something ugly. This advice came from Heather Berndt, local artist here in Spokane and founder of Soulativity. It was in response to a question I asked a panel at Creators’ Table’s visiting artist lecture series, featuring Lanecia Rouse Tinsley. And the advice has really stuck with me since.
So, I decided to test it out. Granted, my sample size was small, using my niece and two nephews. We sat in a circle, had our box of crayons, and drew with the mere intention of creating the ugliest picture we could. And, unsurprisingly, we had a blast. Now, don’t get me wrong, this wasn’t a great experiment because these kiddos aren’t too terribly intimated by the concept of creating. However, it did shift their enthusiasm. Despite our differences in age, this was something we could all equally succeed at. As a result, it was more fun.
The activity reminded me of an exercise I had done in a class taught by Katie Creyts, an Art Professor at Whitworth University. Every week, we would have to spend an hour creating with a random material, like a box of noodles, paper bags, and so on. While the intention wasn’t to create something ugly, it had a similar influence due to the bizarre nature of the material. You had to focus on the task at hand, learning how to manipulate the materials in the moment. No planning, just doing. Plus, it’s hard to take yourself too seriously when making a sculpture out of noodles.
So, whether you’re teaching, doing something creative with a group of friends, working with kids, or creating for yourself, try it out. Make something ugly on purpose. It makes the creative process a little less stressful for those struggling. And even if creating isn’t a problem, it’s a good way to take a break and connect with others.
The views, thoughts, and opinions expressed in this blog belong solely to the Spokane Art School Artist-in-Residence, and not necessarily to the Spokane Art School.