18 January 2010

The Art of Cultivating a Creative Life

20 women sit around long tables pushed together in a corner of a café in Istanbul on a Saturday morning. The clink of coffee cups, the murmur of orders being placed. I pace around a little bit, preparing myself physically and mentally to talk about creativity to this group of professional women that I have been a part of since 2007.

The painter Robert Motherwell reportedly always started his day with figure drawing, though in his finished work, literal figures are scarce. He did it because it got him up and moving, pushing kinetic energy around until the good stuff could come out. He knew the power of drawing.

I have planned a drawing exercise for this reason, and I move around the room, saying hello to all the women who have come: a mother with her 6 month old baby and her 4-year old daughter, a salon owner, lawyers, entrepreneurs, writers, bakers and teachers.

The title of my talk is The Art of Cultivating a Creative Life. I hand out sheets of paper and pencils, and we do one of Betty Edward’s exercises from Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain. I do this to dispel the “I can’t draw” so “I’m not creative” myth. I also choose this exercise because it relates to perception. How we think we see a chair, a hand, a house, but what we really see is a symbol. By slowing down our brains, we trick it into overriding its impulse to see the symbol of a hand and not its network of lines, hangnails, smooth nail beds, and curve of the thumb. Some women grasp a shift in their awareness immediately, others later as I talk about the application of a seemingly simple exercise to the borderlands of work and home, to professionalism, to adapting to life as an expat in Turkey.

I talk about navigating new territory abroad. About being faced with making decisions in the gray areas of bi-cultural life. I talk about reinvention. The spark. Creativity as a way of being and not just the action of sitting down to make something or write something. I talk about the magic of dialogue, concluding by putting out the extraordinarily uncomplicated idea that all moments in life are art. And then I pose this question:

Can you identify where you feel moments of spark in your own life?

Now, where are yours?
blog comments powered by Disqus