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Speak Out: Artistic Creativity

By Marian Odenwald
arttimes online July 2016

Artistic CREATIVITY. What defines it? Is it a divine gift given to a chosen few at birth? And, if so, who are these chosen few lucky enough to be labeled as talented? As a child growing up in Brooklyn with my three sisters, creativity was innate. It was a part of our everyday life. My memories are full of stories of one or all of us conjuring up some type of artistic endeavor from hand written short stories, plays, songs, role plays with our Barbie dolls, to reel to reel cartoons drawn on our grandfather’s adding machine tape. You name it. We were filled with ideas and had no problem expressing them. It was not uncommon for us to perform for our family members or dream of fame and fortune as we mailed our first short story off to Readers Digest in hopes that it would be published. Although we did receive a kind rejection letter from the assistant editor, we didn’t let our lack of success deter us from moving forward with our dreams. We would soon be on to our next creation, living in the moment, enjoying the unlimited possibilities before us.

Somewhere along the line, as I grew to become an adult, things changed. Life became more about my responsibilities and obligations. I slowly lost touch with that little girl with her big dreams and unbridled courage. I put her behind the backyard gate, focusing on adult things and adult ideas. I put aside the thought that I could seriously consider following my talents and dreams. I didn’t throw them out completely. I would tap into them on occasion if they served my professional and practical needs. They did have their place after all. However, my dreams of writing a best selling novel or dancing in the ballet were over. Although I acknowledged my gifts, who was I to think I was one of those ‘chosen few’ talented people?

The last year and a half of my life has been one of great highs and lows. As we all experience, there comes a time where you take a step back and wonder where your life has been and where you are going. A few months ago on my journey of recovery from a personal loss, I made a conscious decision to bring back one of my childhood desires in the hope of regaining my happiness and to try to heal my soul. I wanted to simply stop and find some peace. For those who are not familiar with a trending activity called ‘Sip and Paint’, it is an amateur painting class where a group of people gather at a chosen venue, have a glass of wine, or two, and attempt to replicate the local artist’s painting to the best of their ability. The best part is that everyone is there for fun and with no expectation other than enjoyment and raising money for their chosen charity. What I experienced was a little more profound. For the first time in quite awhile, I found myself completely in the moment. Focused only on my painting and my effort to recreate my own masterpiece. With each brush stroke I felt a part of me that had been shut down awaken.

I had never considered myself a painter. In fact, although I had drawn sketches in the past, this was my very first painting other than a few attempts in my childhood. I had no reason to believe that I would be good at it. None of it mattered. I wasn’t focused on the others around me. Nor did I care whether or not anyone would like my work. I was in the zone. Caught up in my own satisfaction. At peace and happy. The two hours went by in moments. I felt a release and pride in my accomplishment. I was happy with myself. I could feel that little girl, even if it was just for a moment, resurface. I realized what I needed was to get back to that place of wonder. Back to the place of pure potential. That my creativity was not just a tool I used to be successful in my career, but a part of me. In fact, as important as the air that I breath. It was time to tap back into my passion, my innocence, to be inspired by the little things. Could artistic creativity be a gateway to the divine? I don’t know. What I do know is that it is time to find that little girl again, to open the backyard gate and let her out to play. Her face in the sun with a smile on her lips. Finding happiness, one brush stroke at a time.

Marian Odenwald lives, works and now paints in the Hudson Valley

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