What drawing can teach you about creativity?

During our creative vacation we had a painting session where we painted landscapes - the trees, flowers and houses we were seeing.  A 6 year old asked me the following question: “Rene, why do you have to paint only what you see?” What a profound question. I thought for a while. And then I said: “Maybe, it’s because we cannot imagine what to draw, so we have to see it.”

This got me thinking about the process of drawing. While we were learning we kept thinking about how to make it right, not making a mistake, making the painting look as much like the reality as possible. We didn’t let our creative juices flow. We didn’t realize that it is actually quite ok to make mistakes. That it is ok to try a couple of strokes and colours and then throw the sheet and start a new one. We wanted it to be perfect. Instead of expressing ourselves we were trying to go by the book – we worried about the perspective and the technique. We were looking in some books and trying to copy what we saw there. We were our own biggest censor.

What are three things that kids do instead?

They don’t think, they experiment.  And they do this quickly. They draw whatever their imagination told them. They don’t care if it were right or wrong. They produce quantity – a lot of paintings with different style, different paints, and different ideas. And indeed, the more ideas you produce, the more chances that there will be the ONE idea that will really make a difference in your business.

The more ideas you produce, the more chances that the idea you choose will be the one that your competition did not come up with.  

They don’t fall in love with their ideas. Kids don’t judge themselves or others.  If they don’t like what they see on the painting of their friends, they say it openly, and the friends just shrug and move on. Or, they give ideas to their friends and build on – why don’t you draw a mountain, a lake, a fish… When we brainstorm as adults we tend to want our own ideas to stand out. We clutch to them and rarely let go. We forget to build on the ideas of others. In this way, usually, the mediocre ideas win.

When you have an open mind and realize that you are abundant with ideas and that after this particular idea many more will come you are much more relaxed and can actually listen to the ideas of others and build upon them.

They enjoy the process and don’t care about the final result. That’s the main thing. They concentrate for ½ an hour, produce a lot of ideas, have fun while doing it, and then let go. I think this could help us in the creative process as well. Instead of long two hour meetings, get together for ½ an hour for a brainstorming burst. Do it standing, not sitting. Throw ideas in a concentrated manner, build up on them, have fun and let go. You have the next day to evaluate, judge and put on the black hat if you wish.

But do create time for creation and do it like the kids. Good results are guaranteed.