Tag Archives: creativity

Is your teen’s art teacher stifling him?

Personally, I love drawing, painting and crafting things with my hands. I think that is what really makes me ‘Me!’ My teen has seen me do it, and as a child I always encouraged him to take up painting, even sent him to a drawing class that he thought was boring.

As he grew into his teens, his interest in drawing dropped completely, instead he nurtured a new interest in music, sports and took up parkour very seriously for almost 2 years. As the academic pressure of the higher classes set in, he had little time for the outdoors. Then, all of a sudden he began drawing – weird teenage stuff of course, but there he was… making pen and ink drawings in his books, telling me stories around what he drew and often referring to Dali, our favourite artist, for his inspiration. He would go through Dali’s coffee table book for hours, trying to understand the imagery and the connects. And days later, I would see some shadow of the great painter’s work in his own work.

No, he does not paint like Dali, a long way from there still, but he is trying to think like him, follow his thought process, connect different ideas and create a new piece. All of this happened after Std. VIII, when art was dropped in school as a subject of study.

‘So what exactly do your paintings and poems really say, kid?’ I asked him. ‘Oh, lots, they talk about how I am feeling in that moment, sometimes I try to write like my favourite song writers, other times I imagine I am writing for the next Spoken Word event, where I will perform my piece…’ he says passionately.

From the parent’s eyes

This was interesting for me to observe as a parent. You see, he was not a particularly good art student, could never colour within the lines, his water color paintings were often marred by patches of too much water or too little of it… and his human figures right through school were well… different. He and his art teacher did not quite hit it off, and he struggled with grades in the art exams. It was sad for me to see that as I had hoped he would grow up to love art as much as I did… but obviously, that was not to be.

So his new avatar where he began to draw and look up art books and try his hand at painting came as a surprise to me. During the last years of school when he was supposed to be studying and practicing for good grades in Maths and Science, he would buy himself sketch books and spend hours drawing, sketching and perfecting his art pieces. And with my love for the same, I could not help but sit down with him and guide him on how to get a certain angle right… not that I am a studied artist, but I have learnt a few tricks and tips along the way.

Rediscovering art

He recently completed a beautiful oil painting on canvas, it is gorgeous. He is proud of it too. This piece made me realize that in the last few years, he had been denying his creative expression through this medium. His relation with his art teacher and having been given marks that clearly showed that he was not ‘artistic’ had made him stay away from drawing, colours, paint… the works.

Once there was no judging, he found this to be a great way to express himself and found a voice all his own. His works have images combined with words and icons that he sees in his fav music videos all rolled into one.

I learnt: Art is a medium of expression, not just a profession

This experience has taught me that we ought not to judge our children by the syllabus that has been set out by the schools. There has to be a wider, more open participation and encouragement for the young minds and hearts to be able to express themselves. Not everyone is going to be a professional artist, not everyone needs to colour within the lines; but I do believe each child at every age must be encouraged to express himself through art. This is where they learn to discover themselves and deal with their emotions.

Where freedom of expression is threatened, thinking slowly dies

Let us remember that it is the dictatorial governments who stop their creative citizens from expressing themselves. The writers, the painters, the theatre performers, the singers  – they are the bravest citizens of a country for they dare to state things as they see them, for they have little to lose. These creatives are committed to their vision of the world, to have their distinctive view of all that is happening around them and they dare to say and do things that normal people don’t. The governments that are trying to control the masses, and stop them from thinking, clamp the freedom of expression; and societies where this is done face a slow down. They stop progressing, and over decades one can see a definite collapse of their social, economic and political systems (read: Communist Societies)

The future belongs to creative innovators, not repeaters!

As parents and teachers, we should take this aspect of creative expression seriously. What is taught in schools is what we already know : grammar for language, a certain method of writing, drawing singing… yes, it is important to learn the basics, but let us also use the creative spaces to teach our children to think for themselves, let them use these media to explore their personalities, to define what freedom really means to them… after all, the future really belongs to those who will be able to bring different ideas together, not those who can repeat that has already been defined. For that we have AI and bots…

I am glad my teen has gone from being a consumer of art to being a creator….

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SO YOU WANT TO DO YOUR OWN THING?

This article is for all those of you out there who have been wanting to strike out and do something of your own: be an author, a painter, a musician, or run an independent business. When you choose to go your own way, without the security of the paycheck, you are choosing to be an entrepreneur. And this article is for each one of you out there! Enjoy.

To go from learning to performing – how quickly can you do that? That is what entrepreneurship is all about. What a lot of wanna-be entrepreneurs do is, after they have their big inspiring idea, they wait around, share it with friends and guess what? It dies a natural death. That’s right.

The problem with entrepreneurship is that it has a huge element of madness in it, a huge amount of risk, where you choose to walk away from your safe haven and strike out into the unknown. 99% of the people you know will tell you what a great idea it is, and yet, how there are a million chances that it will fail.

If you are a wanna-be entrepreneur and have shied away from starting your own venture one time too often, the thing for you to do, is keep your ideas to yourself.

Think out your idea in your head, plan the massive action that you need to take and on a pre-defined day, JUST DO IT. You don’t need approvals, you don’t need suggestions – enterprises are meant to rough it out.

The best thing about most enterprises is that you can start small and keep changing course as you progress in your entrepreneurial journey. So if you are among those that have been watching from the sidelines, keeping your safe little job, well, step out into the rain. That’s where the action is. Get that water on to your skin, soak it in, run with your idea, and run like mad. It is one of the best things about being an entrepreneur – when you are running hard, you can’t hear the naysayers… so you just keep going.

And when you keep at it, rest assured, you will reach your destination one day. Remember, don’t let anyone tell you, you can’t do it. The truth is, they can’t, and that’s why they assume you can’t either.

The only voice you need to listen to is the voice that is inside of you. And it will lead you to be the entrepreneur you have always wanted to be. Wishing you the wildest luck on your entrepreneurial journey!

~ Bharti Athray

image source: https://www.pinterest.com/dinglemor/the-joyful-jog/

TOUCHED BY INSPIRATION

It was just one of the long lonely days when I felt I must say something, but had nothing to say. I sat at my computer waiting for the inspiration to arrive. It never did come.

I finally walked away from my computer; out into the lobby of the floor on which my office sat. Sun spilled into the lobby warming my air-conditioned, numb body. I liked walking in the sun, always did. I did a couple of rounds around the block, playing hide and catch with the sun. Finally I had to come back to my table. My break had been a long one.

I sat, remembering the feel of the tropical afternoon sun on my skin and knew inspiration had just reached out to me. This little sharing is the result of that brief walk, my short interlude with the warm afternoon sun. I hope you have yours too, soon.

~ Bharti Athray

Image Source: hisgloryinourstory.com

WHAT I LEARNT FROM MY FIRST YEAR OF BLOGGING

I began this blog in May 2014, and have found the journey to be an enjoyable one. In this post I briefly share my experiences and learnings during the last eight months. Blogging has let me deal with some of my core issues when it comes to creating, and has made me more confident about pursuing this passion.

A brief sharing on what I learnt:

Learning 1: The story is about the story teller: I have often wondered, why anyone would read a story which has been told a million times: pick any classic love story and you will see there are some 5-6 basic plotlines that can be worked on. So why do so many people write and what is it that makes each story different?

My learning: the story teller: each of us is unique and different, and each person finds a new way to narrate the same story. That is what makes the stories different and the art of story-telling fascinating.

Woman in red

I did a quick search of paintings for ‘Woman in red’. Just check out the variations! Image source: Internet

Learning 2: Put aside the voice of criticism and doubt, that asks who will read this writing. After realizing that my story matters, I realized this truth in every creative space. Listen to the songs you hear, observe the art you see – the theme is usually one that has been worked on over and over again, yet every creator lends his / her own unique touch to the piece. This realization has given me the courage to create, it has given me the strength to do what I want to do without worrying about how successful I will be.

Learning 3: Take inspiration from other creative people. I have spent a fair amount of time reading about other famous creative people, their routines, their struggles and their processes. One important thing that I learnt was that they took the process of creating as seriously as we take our regular jobs. They committed a fixed set of hours to it, and worked at their passion without treating it as a burden. Some dedicated their lives to it, others did it in their spare time. Some converted their skills into commissioned works of art, others pursued their vision with little or no assurance of material success. These were the people who created – letters, books, plays, paintings, sculptures, inventions, architecture – amazing people who believed in themselves and never let the world talk them out of pursuing their dreams.

Learning 4: Use the internet to get yourself back on track. When I find myself a little low on motivation, I read about the lives of those I admire – these could be statesmen, thinkers, philosophers – anyone that has made a difference to our world. I browse through the online autobiographies of great thinkers, authors, painters, inventors, scientists and even statesmen.

I read blog posts of other writers who are working on the same issues as I am. This exploration lets me better understand my own challenges, inspires me to stay persistent and positive. It helps me get back on track with my writing and other creative pursuits.

What do you do when life gets in the way of you creating? Do you look around for inspiration, go for a walk, meditate, listen to music? I would love to know how you get past that creative block, do share!

~ Bharti Athray

Featured image source: www.popsugar.com