You Were Born To Create

You Were Born To Create

You Were Born To Create

We are born as creative, daring creatures. All of us. We possess all the natural gifts that we tend to assume are the province of only a talented few.

This can be easily seen when we are young. For example, as a kid did you ever prance around the house with a broomstick pretending it was a horse, or did you ever invent little characters, soldiers, dolls, puppets? Now, these things that you created - did you speak to them and did they respond?

Have we not all gotten a kick out of placing a buttercup flower under someone's chin and seeing the yellow glow that it creates? Have we not all marveled at the sound of the ocean in a shell placed against our ears or taken delight in touching the coldness of a dog's nose? Is this not common - perhaps universal - to celebrate the pleasures of sight and sound and touch? And in so doing, do we not celebrate our ability to perceive the world along with the perceptions themselves?
When we finger-painted as kids, did we care if it was correct or good or finished? Did we not run around with abandon at times in our "dress-up" clothes, playing tag or climbing a tree, while our mothers chased not far behind, feverishly trying to round us up, tuck our clothes back in and drag us back to the special family dinner that had begun twenty minutes earlier? Was there not a time, for all of us, when we easily relinquish to the process of exploration, wonder, and sensuality? We did so fully and completely, so often and regularly that it seemed absolutely ordinary.

Did we not risk jeopardizing our little sources of praise the day we played hooky or ignored the school bell or swam over our heads in the pond? When we were growing, were there not countless times when we chose to risk being identified as "bad" because the desire to know the part of ourselves that could not find expression was overwhelming? Were we not dedicating ourselves to that self within that had to be?

Were not all those chance encounters with friends, the afternoons after school, the Saturday mornings when we just ran out of the house, dashing out into the snow storm, carving a pumpkin or bar of soap - the endless random events ñ were they not all just a series of prompts, starting points, places of departure from which we grew? Or when we drew faces in the street with chalk or drew red lines around the house, what were we thinking? That we had as much a right to transform and beautify reality as anyone else?

All these thoughts and actions were quite real, were they not? They very much marked who we were. They also happen to be the singular hallmarks of a creative spirit. They describe the unfettered artist that we all began as. These traits seem so unremarkable because they were and are so natural. So why or how do we get away from the gift we all have, the ability to create who we are through expression?

Let me suggest an answer. We fail to imagine the world in terms other than those handed to us. We begin as innocent and by the 3rd grade when we competed for the gold stars we became performers and have not stopped hoop jumping since. We bought into the bell-shaped curve and the notion that making art is about some rare set of skills that only a few possess; and so we go through life obsessed with getting ahead, measuring up, proving that we are capable. Let it go. Stop performing. Go back to innocence. Find yourself. Do what gives you pleasure and let the paintings happen along the way.


Excerpted from a new book, The Practice and Philosophy of French Impressionism, which can be previewed here: