To Draw, to Cook, to Create?

Four of my children are gathered around our dining room table this morning, coloring with pencils.  An art-loving college student–Elizabeth, who is on Winter break, is sitting with them.  She says,

In realism, you never draw the sun in your picture because if you did all your figures would need to be shadows.  So, if you want the lighting to seem real when you draw, pretend the sun is at your back.

They follow her instructions and draw pictures with no sun in sight.  Are my children being Creative?

My children are just learning the most basic techniques of art–by following directions.  They are far from changing the domain of Leonardo Da Vinci or Andy Warhol.

Last night, I really wanted to make broccoli soup. I opened my laptop and Googled “brocoli soup”.  Several recipes came up and I began to gather the ingredients for the one with the most butter and onions. But as I started chopping those onions my nine month old baby started to fuss– warning me, she had no patience to wait around for me to cook.

I love following recipes when I cook because I like to be surprised with new tastes.  I often get bored with my own combinations and want to try someone else’s.  Am I being Creative when I cook  someone else’s recipe?

Creativity is not a moment,  It is process that grows developmentally.  The first step in the creative process is imitation, but if you stop your creative development there,  you never create anything new and you slide into non-creativity.  My recipe-following could lead to Creation–if I put in thousands of hours and invest my life for Creativity in cuisine. But I’m not planning on that.  I cook because I love to eat, essentially for fun and pleasure only.

My husband can’t understand where the joy is in following a recipe.  He makes his own dish every time–he doesn’t even follow his own recipes.  He cooks on the fly.  Is he being Creative when he invents a never-before-tasted-exactly-this-way combination of flavors?

Although he is not imitating–few of the world’s grandest chefs would call on him to improve a gourmet dish.  My husband wants no access to that world. If he made the planet’s tastiest lasagna,  he’d get a kiss on the cheek from me and not much more.  He cooks for the same reasons I do.

My eleven-year-old daughter paints in her spare time.  She often takes her easel out to the front yard and paints some part of the landscape.  She isn’t following someone else’s instructions–she’s letting her inner eye and outer vision dictate what goes on the canvas.  Is she being Creative?

Actually, when she’s painting with no recipe, she has moved to a possible second stage in creative development–she’s re-creating what she sees.  She’s painting  the truth in forms present in the natural world outside our home.  If she does this for the next forty years,  her creative development will continue. But when she stops pushing herself to improve, she’ll begin sliding into non-creativity and remain a technician.

Creative development is long and has many stages.  Imitation is only the initial stage–the door to eventual Creation.  Recording is the second base stage–the doormat to Creation.  Of all the above examples,  my husband’s recipe-free cooking puts him farthest along on the Creative development path.  But he has light years to go to change the foodie’s domain,–so he’s also pretty green creatively.

Creativity is life and time-consuming.  It is much more than coloring in flow or cooking for fun.

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