August 15, 2014

creative exhilaration

When I was nine years old, like any fortunate child, I loved to paint, write, act, and dance. I grew up hand in hand with my cousin for a few years and we were quite the creative powerhouse duo. We put on extravagant plays with out-of-this-world plots, had the strangest imaginary games and constantly drew and painted till our little hearts burst. Most children are encouraged to take part in such activities. After all, playing is considered the child's work and creating is how young minds grow (this view is adopted by the part of the world that I hail from).

Now that I have spent a summer soaking in the richness of other people creations (art museums, wonderful literature), I have thought to myself; what ever happened to my creativity? Somewhere before bras and after I gave up on the consciousness of my teddybear, I stopped drawing and painting. 

The reason was because I thought I wasn't particularly good at them and didn't want to pursue them as a career. Painting side by side with someone who eventually went on to study fine art at university and pursue it as a career might have been an unfortunate blow to my creative self confidence.

So, believing that my creations weren't quite as valuable, I focused on different things. Fortunately, singing and writing are creative outlets that I have pursued since then. Only now, at age nineteen did I pick up a paint brush again out of sheer coincidence. My boyfriend thought it would be a fun idea to buy some watercolours and see what came out of an evening of painting. The results were important. 

It was so wonderful! The paper was blank and despite my obvious shortcomings in technique, I felt limitless. I could portray anything I wanted! I was exhilarated by the array of possibilities that lay ahead of me. Pointy brush, large brush, yellow, blue, green, it was up to me! I began to paint a strange cloud of coral looking fluff that turned into a torso of a woman with skin that resembled pink wood. I felt like Dalí, Matisse, Modigliani! The sensations were indescribable. 


I had a similar unfortunate separation from my classical ballet studies. After I quit dancing, I didn't return, because of lack of time, lack of confidence. Only last week I discovered an empty mirrored studio in the corner of a sports center. I shyly entered, closed the door, turned on music, and let myself loose. Again, similar results: complete exhilaration.

What I realized was that my technique and the product of what I was creating weren't important. The release I felt with every pirouette and swirl of paint were suddenly so much more valuable than anything anybody else was going to see or judge. I am not depreciating mastery, but I must emphasize the importance of the joy that can be found through these outlets for people that will not be professional artists or dancers.

For a young person that has been creatively limited by an education system for two dense years, this kind of surprising epiphany triggered ideas.
I suspect that goal-centered culture had an impact on my years of paint deprivation. In Finland, after-school activities are taken rather seriously. If you like dancing then damn it, you will come to practice seven times a week and become a professional ballerina! Enjoy football? Here, let us take all your money and free time and coach your child into the next Beckham.
Not only is our hobby system serious and expensive, but it encourages children to view pastimes as a means to achieve something important. Win the game, be the best. While these goals can yield wonderful things, they crush so many creators that don't measure up to par. I am firm in the belief that I stopped painting because I didn't realize the importance of simple joys of creation.

Think of most adults that live a life of work, stress, children and crisscross responsibilities. Think of your parents and older relatives. When was the last time they, (or more importantly) you spent some time creating through a medium you hadn't touched in years?

Whether or not you stick with this practice, I fully believe that it is worth it to try. You might discover you can create unimaginable beauty.

After all,

creativity is intelligence

(found on Pinterest)


  1. Hyvä teksti! Rupesin itekin miettimään josko kokeilisin vaikka just maalausta - huvin vuoks vaan.:)

  2. Kiitos paljon! Kannattaa! Mulle on auennut ihan uusia maailmoja :))

  3. I used to love dancing and at one time wished to pursue it as a career but it ended up becoming a past-time I never looked forward to. The competition and pressure to outshine everyone else made me forget how happy it used to make me as a kid and after taking long breaks due to injuries I realized I didn't miss it and never went back. Now I dance whenever I want to in the comfort of my own living room just to feel happy :) Loved the text and yeah most of my friends from when I lived in Helsinki took their hobbies extremely seriously- and quite a few ended up quitting them like I did