The Roots of Creativity

Today, I want explore the roots of creativity – where do my ideas come from?

Our minds are powerful computers – massive databases of everything we have ever seen, experienced or thought. The older we get, the more data that is filed away. Accessing it is the problem but even if I can’t remember creating a particular drawing it is filed away in the database quietly biding its time and whispering in my subconscious ear. There are designs I have created in recent years where the seeds were sown long ago in my past, seeds that germinated, put down roots and then faded in the winter season of my mind. The roots remained though and much like a perennial flower that slumbers for a time only to reawaken when conditions are right, these roots will sprout again.

Some time ago, my brother who had been the ‘keeper of the family albums’, passed them on to me. “It’s your turn to hold on to these”, he said. Many were old photo albums with this generation’s pictures – my parents and grandparents, my siblings, pictures of myself – some triggering delightful memories and some embarrassingly awkward. Other albums housed older pictures, people vaguely familiar – old eyes staring out of young faces. Many I did not recognize and mourned the fact that no one had bothered to make notations of who they were; relatives – probably – but lost in time.

One album did not contain photographs. It was a scrap book where my mother lovingly pressed all of our childhood artwork. drawings, Mother’s Day cards (prompted by teachers) and in some cases, class assignments. A surprising percentage of the artwork within was mine. I don’t think it was that our mother held a greater affection for me than my siblings but simply a matter of quantity; I was by far more prolific in my artistic endeavors than my brothers and sisters. Looking at all these pictures was a walk down memory lane; most I had forgotten ever creating until I saw them. My drawings and paintings spanned many years but as I almost never dated them I can only guess at what age I created them. There are clues – a cat I had when I was about 6 years old, the memory of when I received a set of pastels as a gift and first used them… most of the time I have to rely on looking at the relative skill in the artwork – as Monty Python famously said – “I got better” (in reference to a man claiming a witch turned him into a newt).

What really surprised me was how many of the drawings have lain dormant for all these years only to blossom out again in the form of one or another of my quilt designs. Hand on Bible, I swear to you that I had no recollection of these original artworks when I created the quilts

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