Rad A. Drew Photography: Creativity as a Form of Personal Expression

Continental Divide at Dawn

Continental Divide at Dawn
Continental Divide at Dawn

Thursday, July 27, 2023

Creativity as a Form of Personal Expression

Covered Bridge in Indiana

Is it Time to Reclaim 
(or Become Acquainted with) 
Your Creative Mojo?

Author's Note: I chose the images displayed in this blog because while they may be flawed, unconventional, and not for everyone, they please me for one reason or another. –RAD

I believe that we all begin our lives filled with creative energy and a need to express ourselves by creating. For many of us, life events and feedback from well meaning parents and teachers stifled our innocent, unique creative spirit. (How many of us were criticized for coloring outside the lines?)

Sometimes, as in my case, it can be our own fear and insecurity that shuts us down.

When I was in the fourth grade I had a fabulous history teacher who instilled in me a love of history. He gave the class an assignment to construct a timeline of the key events surrounding the civil war. There were very few instructions and I was excited about the assignment.

I immediately had an idea for my timeline. I asked Mom for about six feet of butcher paper and gathered colored pencils and markers and spread the butcher paper out on the living room floor.

I proceeded to populate my timeline, loading it with the historical events and illustrating each event with colorful drawings from my imagination. It took hours and I was in what I now know was a state of “flow.” I was “fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus.”

Cape Cod Marsh 

I found it difficult to finish, but when I finally did, I experienced a sense of fulfillment so satisfying that I hopefully strive for it (not always successfully) in what I do today.

When the day came to present our assignment, I rolled my timeline into a long roll, put a rubber band around it, careful not to bend it, and packed it off to school, eagerly anticipating turning it in.

In class, rather than handing our work over to our teacher, each student was called on to present their timeline to the class.

Winter Stand

After several presentations, I became uneasy. All of the other kids had done their timeline on an 8x11 sheet of paper. It became increasingly clear to me that I’d done the assignment incorrectly and I was overwhelmed with a feeling of shame.

Consequently, I never turned my project in. I lied to my teacher saying that I didn’t do the assignment and I took an F, rather than expose myself for my 
“mistake” in doing the assignment “wrong.” I was embarrassed and feared being made fun of or thought stupid for doing the project so differently than my peers.

It was years before I recognized that I’d done nothing wrong and that my enthusiasm and imagination and original thinking was a positive exception.

Old "Woody"

In retrospect, I doubt that I would have been ridiculed by my classmates and I feel certain my teacher would have been accepting of my approach. But at the time, I felt compelled to conform to what I believed was the norm, to fit in and to not be different.

Today, I appreciate that it’s our differences in how we perceive our world and our expression of those “uniquenesses” through our art and creativity, that is essential to our wholeness as human beings.

Serendipity (aka Happy Accident)
Creating and sharing our creations however we choose is an act of intimacy and courage because it potentially opens us to criticism or even rejection. But it also benefits us by feeding a part of us and (if we’re lucky) others. It connects us in a very personal way and nourishes something deep inside.

I love what Kurt Vonnegut had to say to New York City High School students. It’s so often quoted these days that I expect you’ve seen it, but I think it’s so important to take in.

Lone Tree with Birds

Vonnegut wrote,

“Practice any art, music, singing, dancing, acting, drawing, painting, sculpting, poetry, fiction, essays, reportage, no matter how well or badly, not to get money and fame, but to experience becoming, to find out what’s inside you, to make your soul grow.”

The part that gets me is “… no matter how well or badly ...”

That says to me that it’s not about the final product; it’s the act of creating, of expressing a part of our uniqueness, that both differentiates us from others and reveals our common humanness.

Lead the Way

It’s my hope that you’re finding ways to create and share your art and that you find the courage to accept it not as a product, but as the process of learning more about who you are.

So go create something and then, if you have the courage, turn in your assignment.