Friday, June 21, 2013

Creating Challenge Day 172--The Benefits of Creating for the Gifted Adult

I am pleased to blog for this year's New Zealand Gifted Awareness Week (#NZGAW) Blog Tour. What follows is my own post. If you're interested in following the entire blog tour, please click here. Thanks to Mary St. George, gifted educator extraordinaire, for inviting me to participate!
I created this ZIA (Zentangle® Inspired Art) using black pen and Derwent Inktense Pencils.
One hundred seventy-two days ago I embarked on a 365-day Creating
Challenge. I declared that in 2013 I would create something each day. It could be big or small. It could take ten minutes or two hours. It could involve learning or producing. I really didn't care. I simply wanted to challenge myself to develop my artistic acumen.

One hundred seventy-two days into this adventure, I have indeed stretched and grown. I've tapped back into long neglected skills in music and writing. I've played with improv. I've put on the identity of artist, wearing its paint- and ink-splotched smock with honor and humility. I've learned about shading and shadowing, colors and mixing them, two-point perspective, figure drawing, origami, digital creating, and much, much more. But most of all, I've learned to let go and set my brilliance free.

I photographed this rose using my Fujifilm FinePix S2000HD camera. Then I pulled the image into my iPad picfx app and applied various filters such as Bokeh 6 and Canvas. Finally, I pulled the entire file into the Over app to add the text. (Over is Starbucks' current freebie app. I must admit, however, that I was suckered into paying for in-app fancier fonts--but it's for the sake of art, so who can complain?) 


Mary St. George, my friend who has witnessed both my creating challenge and my passion for gifted adults, invited me to "write an illustrated little something about the benefit to gifted adults in dabbling in the arts." The topic went to my core, and I appreciated the opportunity to ponder the benefits of dabbling in the arts. Though I've experienced them, I've not thought about them...until now.

I must admit that in typical gifted adult fashion, I went all intellectual on the topic. I pondered the various characteristics of gifted adults and how the arts tap into each of them. I reviewed Dabrowski's overexcitabilities and mused on how artistic expression addresses at least four of the five (Sensual, Psychomotor, Imaginational, Emotional) and at times the fifth (Intellectual). I mindmapped the whole thing. It was going to be a brilliant blog post.

Instead, you get this one. As I attempted to write that brilliant blog post, I sucked all of the life out of the topic. It came from my head not my heart. And while we gifted adults have agile minds, I find for myself that life comes from the heart. As well, the heart births art. When I looked there, the blog post began to write itself. And perhaps that's a lesson for us all: first tap into our hearts for the passion then allow our minds to serve that vision.

I created this image on my iPad using the Paper by FiftyThree app and a Bamboo stylus. Paper by FiftyThree is sheer fun, and I highly recommend it! And if you're going to do art on the iPad, you must possess a stylus. So, obtain one. Now.

What benefits do I derive from dabbling in art, writing, music, and other creative outlets? Here is an incomplete list:
  • I have fun. I tap into the natural childlikeness that we gifted adults possess in spades. I feel four years old again as I use my hands to smear gesso onto a canvas and paint acrylics over it. I like making messes that may result in nothing. I lose myself in process, and time flies. 
  • I allow my right brain to rule. My left brain can be very bossy. Remember a few paragraphs ago how it attempted to commandeer this blog post? Well, art puts my right brain in control. Art gives me the opportunity to bypass my thought processes and let something else emerge, something I cannot always articulate in words.
  • Conversely, I allow my left brain to rest. Everyone needs a break at times, and that includes my left brain. Sometimes I simply need to get away from analysis, scheduling, organizing (actually, I escape from that last one quite often). Writing a whimsical poem or noodling on the piano can give me that release. Then when I return to left-brain tasks, I have more energy.
  • I deepen trust in my intuition. I need not develop any reasons for squirting spray ink onto a canvas other than to believe an ink splotch belongs there. (Sorry, Rorschach.) Instead, I can spray to my heart's content and see what develops. From there, I can take another risk led by my gut. So far, nothing catastrophic has happened as a result of anything I've painted, written, or played on an instrument. That's good odds.
  • This leads to my next benefit: I eschew perfectionism. Rights or wrongs don't exist in art. Yes, some "rules" exist, but the creative always knows that rules can be broken. Beckon to be broken. "Out of the box" is nothing compared to where art can take us. Pursuing perfection in art, therefore, is really battling windmills. Instead, we journey to strange lands of our own imagining. Perfection doesn't exists. It's too small a notion in these parts.
I began this painting with the goal of sharing it in this blog post. However, it is still a work in progress. It's a 16-by-20-inch canvas smeared with gesso then covered with acrylic paint, spray ink, and modeling paste. This is as far as I got before needing to publish my blog post. As it stands now, it represents the idea that we can be in process with our artwork as long as we need.


  • I always have something to learn. Boredom, the curse of many a gifted person, is, like perfection, non-existent in the arts world. I can always go broader or deeper. Or broader and deeper. I can dip my piano-playing fingers into a new style, or I can find more difficult pieces in a style I've already discovered. This benefit of arts keeps me interested and on my toes.
  • I can express my creativity and individuality. I've spent much of my life trying to fit into the boxes other people tried to stuff me into. Even at times in creating art, I've tried to meet people's expectations. But now, I no longer allow those restrictions. And art gives me ample opportunities to be myself and express what's in my heart.
  • I can offer beauty to the world. We gifted people have a strong sense of justice and morality, and that can sometimes overwhelm us. When I am creating, I feel I can both give myself a vacation from those intense thoughts while at the same time battling their sources. I truly believe that creating is the force that conquers the destruction we witness and experience in this world.
The above is a short list of benefits to the gifted adult who dabbles in the arts. I know many more exist. Perhaps you're a creative who has something to add to the conversation. Please do!

And if this article has prompted you to begin your own creativity practice, welcome to a life of wonder, energy, and fun! If I can at all support you, please let me know. I encourage you to start today. Find a ten-minute window of time to sketch a doodle or write a haiku. The benefits are immediate and waiting for you to claim them.