We need your bonkers ideas and your crazy art! Sometimes it’s the crazy ideas that fuels creativity more forcefully than the ‘normal’ safe ones. Crazy and bonkers might also inspire others a little bit louder and who knows where it could lead to.
“Change the world with your brilliant and bonkers ideas!” That’s what Little Inventors wants: helping kids by encouraging inventive thinking. It connects kid inventors to skilled grown ups who make their ideas work in real life: workable models of the brilliant and bonkers ideas. The founder of the project Dominic Wilcox says in this behind the scenes video “I think we’re all born creative but some people say “Oh I’m not creative.” But that’s not true, you were creative when you were a child, you’ve just lost it… by going through the education system and then the work as an adult. Your mind gets a little bit limited and restricted and you get a bit self-conscoius suddenly your creativity can be lost.”
If you feel your creativity is lost right now, know it’s never completely gone. You can always find your way back to it, whenever you’re ready. Start by picking up a pencil and paper and making some marks. Any marks – messy ones, bad unperfected ones, ones full of mistakes and rough ideas. Because making anything is always better than making nothing at all. And who knows where it could all lead to.
Ps. Dominic Wilcox has a Ted talk on his project called Turning children’s imagination into reality.
In creativity and art, things don’t need to add up or fit into a neat, perfectly shaped box. We need your crazy, strange and impossible ideas more than ever. Letting go of ‘the rules’ allows freedom and space for the unexpected to appear. While rules can bring containment and constraint (which can be less paralysing due to fewer choices), having no rules may open to unknown magical possibilities.
Albert Adrià talks about his creative approach on Chef’s Table S5 E4: “We play to discover the avant-garde. There aren’t limits. There is total freedom. Let’s say that we skip the rules. One plus one is three. If you always think that one plus one is two, you will never do anything different. Those who think that one plus one is three are the ones who dare.” If Adrià had stuck to the ‘rules’ of cooking and not tried anything new, he wouldn’t be delighting his customers with his current creative culinary delights.
Letting go of the rules takes courage and vulnerability. Stepping outside the perceived safety of ‘normal’ may be tough at first, but the freedom and opportunity to do something different is worth the effort.
There’s no better time than the present moment to start making art. Here’s what you need to do:
Get a pen and paper or whatever is lying around nearby – old receipts and envelopes work just as well as blank paper.
Make some marks for 2 minutes. Increase time as you progress.
Repeat daily. Voila, you’ve begun making art!
Stuck as to what to draw? What’s in front of you: food, pets, family, faces, plants, shoes or possessions. From your imagination: doodles, cartoons, dreams, patterns, shapes or words. Fun experiments: blind drawings, using your non-dominant hand, foot or mouth, dot to dot, use a stick or draw in the dark.
If you’re silently expecting to be as good as artists like Da Vinci or O’Keeffe right away, you’re going to be VERY disappointed. Your art will be messy, ‘bad’ and gloriously filled with wonderful mistakes (aka learning potential). Focus on the fun making something out of nothing and continue in the face of disappointment that you’re not a master artist immediately. It takes time and a lot of practice to move past the beginner artist stage, but this stage is the most exciting and messy because everything is new and you can make your own rules as you go. Embrace the fun of being a beginner!
“Success is the sum of small efforts repeated day in and day out.” — Robert Collier
While the focus here at The Sparkle Experiment is on making art, it’s important to mention being creative isn’t just about drawing, collaging, doodling, painting or making marks on paper. Creativity is defined as ‘The use of imagination or original ideas to create something,’ and so that something can really be anything.
As Jessica N. Turner in The Fringe Hours explains “Creativity isn’t crafting; it is any original expression you pursue—running, playing music, gardening, sewing, cooking, and so on are all creative acts. Even activities like volunteering and throwing parties are creative pursuits because by giving of ourselves for others we are expressing ourselves in a meaningful way. Moreover, these are activities that inspire us in an indescribable way. And when we make room in our days to include them, we feel more alive and joyful.”
You can use whatever materials, methods or reasons you like to get creative. Don’t limit yourself to thinking creativity is painting on a canvas because from that limited viewpoint, you miss out on the abundance of creative possibilities.
Making art is about getting curious, experimenting, having fun and seeing where your ideas, mistakes and practice takes you. There is no one set way for how things should look. You don’t have to make a thing that others will think is ‘good.’ We’ve been taught we should always aim to be the best, get the highest grade, gain praise or approval from our peers, teachers or bosses. But you can let go of all of that when you start making art.
You can bend, move and break any rules that you think exist. The artist Helen Frankenthaler argues “There are no rules. That is how art is born, how breakthroughs happen. Go against the rules or ignore the rules. That is what invention is about.” Invent your own way of making art, draw whatever you like and pay no attention to any invisible rules you’ve been unknowingly following. There’s no ‘best’ award for making art for fun, no one-was-fits-all approach and nobody needs to like what you do.
No rules means more creativity and if you’re looking for permission to do whatever you like, this it it right here.
“Let yourself be silently drawn to the strange pull of what you really love. It will not lead you astray.” — Rumi
How can you use your strange curiosities as inspiration for your art? Find robots fascinating? Draw them. Obsessed with a song? Play it while you make something. Got a favourite colour? Use only that colour. Hooked on a tv show? Draw while you watch.
If you don’t want to draw fruit in a bowl (because you’ve decided that’s what you should be drawing) then draw your passions. Make things that interest you. Don’t believe you have to draw or make art a certain way.
Whatever your loves, let them help pull you closer to your creativity.
We love to feel prepared before trying something new because it’s not easy putting ourselves in an unknown situation. It’s uncomfortable. When making art you may think you need to go out and buy lots of ‘good’ art supplies but what if you used what was already in your cupboards at home?
In The Runaway Species, Anthony Brandt and David Eagleman talk about raw materials used for creativity “Human creativity does not emerge from a vacuum. We draw on our experience and the raw materials around us to refashion the world.” What if part of the fun was exploring everyday objects to see what marks they could make? In this experiment you do just that and because you don’t need to buy anything new, you can get started straight away.
You will need: paper, paint, a plate and household objects of your choice. Ideas to start you off: cutlery, rubber bands, corks, cardboard, sponges, string etc. The list is endless. Use one paint colour to keep things simple. If you don’t have any paint, use coffee. You can experiment with adding more or less water make it lighter or darker. Use a plate to mix your chosen paint and allow you space to dip your objects onto.
Take your chosen object, dip it in your paint
Experiment making marks!
Different objects with create completely different marks. The marks made above by a fork required it to be dipped more frequently into the paint so a slower mark-making approach was created. This experimental approach to making marks creates an intuitive way of working as you test making different sizes, shapes and how much paint to use. There is no right or wrong way to make marks, just make them and see what turns up. By using unorthodox painting tools, you lower your expectations around how ‘good’ the marks are. So if you use a fork to paint, you instantly have lower expectations compared to when using a paintbrush.
Flora Bowley in Creative Revolution talks about creating in a kind of “ambiguous territory,” when creating work without a firm plan of where you’re headed. That you will be rewarded for your bravery to “create with no map” and “opening yourself up to the unknown can also be invigorating and deeply revealing. By experimenting using tools where the markmaking results are unpredictable, it allows you to safely let go of outcomes so you can focus on the playful nature of exploring. As Bowley suggests, “the more you flex your brave intuitive muscles, the easier letting go becomes.” Have a look around your home and see what you could use to experiment making your own patterns and marks.