Jackson Pollack painted this picture in 1947.
He said “On the floor I am more at ease, I feel nearer, more a part of the painting, since this way I can walk around in it, work from the four sides and be literally `in’ the painting.”
I look at that painting and I think to myself, “I could do that.”
I went to the Nerman Museum in Kansas City and saw something made out of bottle caps. It was very expensive. “I could do that,” I thought.
One of my friends, a Kansas City artist of note, made a few black squiggles on a white piece of paper. Hum, I mused. “I could have done that.” It sold at a charity auction for a lot of money.
I’ve been to the Louvre in Paris and seen the Mona Lisa by Leonardo and Rembrandt’s Bathsheba at Her Bath. I definitely could not have done either of those or Monet’s Water Lilies or Van Gogh’s Sunflowers. But as for the famous black dot on a white canvas that once hung, and may still hang in the Modern Museum of Art, I know for sure I could have done that.
The point is, I didn’t . . . and therein lies the genius of creativity, which has been defined as bringing into existence something new. Happily, it doesn’t have to be just about art. The simplest form comes in the creation of ideas. As a writer, I love that Carl Rodgers who is widely considered to be one of the founding fathers of psychotherapy and a clinician second only to Freud says (loosely) that the emergence of the written word grows out of the uniqueness of the individual.
In truth, I find myself overwhelmed with creativity. Who can keep up with the deluge of new digital stuff brought to us by our steep learning curve computers and cell phones. (Let me remind you that when I sold a new piece of x-ray equipment, it was obsolete by the time it was installed.)
Nor is creativity limited to tangibles. As new social problems arise, unique ways of dealing with them continue to evolve. Years ago, who would have ever thought that mothers would have trouble bonding with their children? Yet today, due to the explosion of foster care and overseas adoption, attachment and bonding problems proliferate.
One doesn’t need to be a genius to create. It is a human quality we all possess. To make a thing of beauty, a quilt, a garden, an apple pie, provides the creator with such joy and satisfaction as to be hard to equate.
I once spent a week at Anderson Ranch surrounded by creativity. It is an art center in Aspen Snowmass Colorado where artists of all kinds have the opportunity to share, learn and expand their talents. Each day brings new experiences, new techniques and new acquaintances whose excitement and enthusiasm are infectiously contagious. I took a photography course from a National Geographic photographer who taught me to see my surroundings in a whole new way and to use my little point and shoot camera creatively. I ate lunch with artists working on wood projects or with clay, or paint or metal. My exhilaration blended with theirs. At night, everyone went home completely exhausted yet hungry for more.
A member of my family is a set designer. He spends days, weeks, months creating sets for everything from grade school plays to Broadway shows. Yet after each final performance, he breaks up the sets and throws them away. That must be called ‘disposable art.’
Another of my family uses his computer for striking pictures and portraits, and still another makes gorgeous doors and windows and outdoor sculptures out of melted glass.
I think about them now and then and every once in awhile say to myself, I bet I could do that. Then again, unqustionably not.