What Creativity Looks Like

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Creativity. It's an awesome thing - right? What does it make you think of? Beauty? Art? Simplicity? Maybe a song you've heard or a painting you've seen? If it weren't for the powerful force of creativity most of the good things we have in this world wouldn't exist. But let's get real for a minute about creativity. While it can be wonderfully beautiful, it is also complicated and messy. What I'd like to address today is the mess behind the beautiful creative outcome. What does creativity REALLY look like (at least from my corner of the universe)?

If you've poked around my website at all you've seen very tidy images of things I've made. Everything has a neatly ordered page and place to call home. Below is a view of my small, creative space in my home. It's not the tidiest place in the world. These days it is usually covered with a pile of art supplies, drawings and occasionally tools (I share my space with a freezer, a lawn mower and a bunch of power tools)...

On the day I took that photo I had a particularly productive day finishing a beautiful, tidy ink drawing that I am pretty proud of:

I also took this photo that day. (Yes, I know we wasted the peas. They had gotten lost on the back of the fridge. Don't judge. You know it has happened to you too.)

How about my kids? My kids have turned out to be these magical, creative beings. My kids had a really great creative day that day too. They built a super complicated Rube Goldberg machine (that I unfortunately don't have a photo of). What I did get were photos of the aftermath of their work space:

Some days when we are all on a super intense creativity bender, my husband and I joke that we'll never have a living room again. I hate to even get into what things look like when you add other things into the mix of your life. Here is the result of a particularly productive creative day coupled with me taking the time to do a workout:

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Now what you don't see in this photo are the really awesomely complicated domino setups that happened, the plethora of Hero Factory monsters that were designed and built, the domino fall wall we are building together and another ink drawing that I completed.  It just looks like... 

A GIANT MESS.

So that's my point. Creativity is messy. Now we do actually clean things up around here pretty regularly, and I am not promoting living in squalor or shooting for being on an episode of "Hoarders", but in the age of the internet it is so easy to be deceived. Everyone's life looks so tidy, and happy and perfect ALL OF THE TIME. We see these wonderfully crafted, pretty and easy looking moments. We see the finished creative product and then we feel bad about our own messy existence. I'm even impressed by what my own life looks like sometimes. Every now and then I scroll through old Facebook posts and think "Wow! I want THAT life – it looks so tidy and FUN!" and then I remember that it IS my life and the fun, tidy moments are squeezed in between school work, yelling at the kids to get out the door, a pile of dirty dishes and a mountain of unfolded laundry. The gloriously wonderful, perfectly Pinterest, creative moments are one tiny aspect of a larger whole. My website/blog/social media hoop-di-doo is one tiny aspect of a much more complicated and messy life. In the background behind pretty pictures and paintings there are dirty floors (and occasionally clean ones), dirty dishes (and occasionally clean ones), dropped details (DAMNIT - I forgot to schedule my dentist appointment - AGAIN!), cat boxes to clean (ew), lawns to mow (weeds anyone?), kids to feed (*sigh* - Fish sticks... AGAIN?), colds and runny noses (I swear if I find another booger on the sofa...), toilets to plunge (seriously - how did something THAT BIG come out of a person that small?), and the list goes on and on and on.

But even with all of that mess, there is always the over-arching, creative beauty (which my sister lovingly refers to as "a house full of creative possibility"). If it weren't for allowing for the mess sometimes, we wouldn't have the domino setups, the LEGO creations, the self created comic books, the stories written, the games created or the paintings painted.

So don't ever be deceived that everyone else "out there" has everything totally together and perfect, or that creativity is all about simplicity and the pretty, finished product. It's really about the process and the journey. Creativity, like life, is complicated and messy. So enjoy the ride, don't be too afraid of the mess and go make something. The dishes can wait. (Just wait to post a picture of your pretty, clean kitchen until after they are done).  

© 2016 Krysta Bernhardt. All Rights Reserved.