In the first installment of Developing Your Creative Practice I took a bird’s eye view of selecting and starting a creative practice. In Part II of this series, I’d like to provide some ideas that may help in choosing a creative pursuit.
In addition to being excited by or curious about a creative activity, taking stock of your skills and recognizing how you learn can give you some great insight into narrowing down the field of choice.
While the goal is not to choose a creative pursuit that is easy for you—the point isn’t excellence, perfection or mastery right out of the gate, and maybe not ever—it’s nice to do a bit of pre-work that will increase the odds that you will select an activity that you enjoy and increase your odds for personal success.
Determine your Learning Style
Firstly, try to remember those moments when eventually things just “clicked”—how were you learning at that moment—was it through movement, role playing, or visualization? Or did you learn best through written or spoken word? Was music your “thing”? Or did your best learning occur through the application of logic or seeing the relationships between things? Make a short list to determine your learning style.
Link your Learning Style to an Activity
Secondly, think of how your learning style might mesh with a creative pursuit. For example, if movement or role playing is your preferred method of learning, you might pursue dance or theater. If visualization is your key to learning, you could experiment with the visual arts such as photography, video/film or drawing and painting. Logic and inter-relationships, you could experiment with quilting, knitting or woodworking. You get the drill.
Don’t be consumed by “analysis paralysis”
Yes, there’s probably an app for determining your learning style and finding a creative pursuit, but trust me, you don’t need it! Quickly brainstorm and make a short list of 2 or 3 potential creative activities. Then dip your toe in the water and start experimenting. You never know where you’ll end up.
Enjoy the Journey
Before I was a pen and ink artist, I painted in acrylic. Before that, I was a knitter. And I knew for years that I’d never be a seamstress, quilter, singer or musician—I didn’t even experiment with these activities. I’m a visual learner interested in logic and inter-relationships. So drawing and inking are what turns my crank. I’m also an amateur photographer. Recently, I learned to paint with watercolors and continue to dabble in them, but I know for sure that Pen and Ink is my “first love”. At the end of my exploring, I always come back to this medium. My original style was photo-realistic, now I focus on expressing myself more abstractly, through the application of pattern.
In addition to producing and selling my work, I’m happy to have found a creative outlet where inspiration flows and I feel I’m always learning. I also enjoy the fringe benefits–relaxation, periods of being “in the zone” and sharing my creativity with others. It’s a great ride—I highly recommend it!
Note: The concept that I label as “learning style” is based on the theory of Multiple Intelligences by Howard Gardner. Although Gardner wouldn’t label learning style and Multiple Intelligences theory as one in the same, I did in this article for simplicity. You can read more about the theory of Multiple Intelligences here.