Finding Your Shining Light

As we wind down to the end of the year, many schools and universities have their final exhibitions of the year’s work. I had the fortune of visiting the False Bay College exhibition recently, and learnt something new for myself.

Creativity Quotes
A sense of curiosity is nature’s original school of education – Smiley Blanton, Psychiatrist and Author

Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep – Scott Adams, Cartoonist

Finding your Shining Light
The joy of student exhibitions is the variety of technique, style and skill on display. Particularly in high school or early university years, the number of techniques covered is vast; I saw painting, drawing, graphic design, ceramic and wire sculpture, beading, fabric design and even journalism.

While there were a few students who produced fine work in most of the media, what was most interesting to me was how different individuals fared. Across the board there was strong and weak work, and the same within each individual exhibition. There was not a single display that didn’t have at least one ‘shining light’ – a work where the artist clearly felt comfortable with the medium, and was able to used it to tell a story – from a stern and foreboding self portrait, to a fantastical cat, to a still-life alive with colour.

The thought struck me that without trying all the different media, these artists-to-be would never have found the one medium or style that really resonated with them. Rather than being under pressure to excel every time, being allowed to ‘fail’ in some areas allowed them to produce work that helped them learn about their skills, and hone their natural talents.

From cooking to performance to music, literature, film and the visual arts, or any other form of expression, we all have at least one natural talent, but if we give up the first time we try something creative, we stop ourselves from finding that hidden treasure. Not only that, but when you experiment with different media and styles, you also discover which ones come easily to you, and which ones you struggle with – giving you a point of comparison that draws from experience rather than hopes and fears.

Creative activities
I’ve recently been experimenting with repetition, which as an exercise also allows you to compare differences and discover your preferences. I’ve made a few suggestions below for some of the media, but please adjust to suit your needs, materials and passions…I recommend trying as many of these as possible – who knows what new talents you might discover J

  ·  Drawing: start with a single mark and repeat it on a page until a form starts to develop. Fill in the details to create an image.
     [This exercise comes from Keys to Drawing from the Imagination – a highly recommendable book for anyone wanting to tap into their imagination.]
   ·  Writing: see how many different descriptions or settings you can have for one symbol
   ·  Cooking: try using a core set of ingredients in a variety of cooking methods
   ·  Music: take a chord or scale and try repeating it at different tempos
   ·  Photography: shoot the same subject in different locations
   ·  Theatre: tell the same story for different audiences

I’d love to see what you come up with! If you’re keen to share, please mail me your images or text, or better still – load them up as a comment here…

May you discover new perspectives and talents as you go.

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4 comments so far

  1. Reggie on

    Cara, as promised, a comment: I love your monthly Creativity Newsletters. They remind me at least once a month that work is running away with me again and that I am neglecting my creative side. There are always a few ideas that go ‘Zing! That would be cool to try!’ So please don’t let a lack of responses deter you – in my world, you are planting precious seeds in rather messy and overgrown gardens and ‘gooing’ water and compost on them with every reminder… but it may take some time for the gardener (me) to realise what beautiful flowers are growing underneath all the weeds. OK, perhaps this was not the best analogy… Nonetheless – please don’t give up on us (me)!

  2. Cara Faye on

    Reggie, thank you so much for the kind words 🙂
    I love your garden analogy – not just watering the plants so that they blossom, but also getting the rest of the clutter out of the way to give those flowers a chance to be seen and appreciated!

    I look forward to watching this gardener go… (or is that grow?)

  3. Anonymous on

    Love this article thanl you so much.

    • Cara Faye on

      Wow, it’s been a long time since I was on this site.
      @Anonymous, in case you check back here, thanks for your kind words – very glad you found value in the article!


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