Online Men’s Group: What creativity means and finding our way back there

Pablo Picasso said: ‘Every child is an artist. The problem is to remain an artist when we grow up.” This sentiment was at the core of our discussions on creativity this week. Some of the members spoke of their journeys back to a sense of creativity with which they had lost touch. For one member he spent much of his life attempting to unravel a belief which formed when a school teacher told him his drawing of a horse ‘didn’t look right’. Despite this, he told the group this story from a studio filled with examples of his abstract and colourful art. Many of us have had similar experiences. And that may have been because we weren’t talented drawers or writers, did not achieve immediate success or indeed, were not deemed talented by teachers. And therefore, have since spent time believing we didn’t have a creative ability despite experiencing a creative urge throughout our lives. 

We agreed the term creativity – like many of the important things in life – is difficult to define because it represents so many different things. It is more than just painting, it could be coming up with an intuitive response in the workplace, cooking different things on the weekend or putting up a shelf that you’ve spent all of lockdown thinking about. By expanding this definition of creativity, we both allow ourselves to be seen as creative individuals as well as gain the motivation to do something creative and peer beyond the territory of our own maps. 

This question of telling ourselves what we can do and who we are loomed large this week. As one of the men put it: there are things that we don’t do because we’ve tried them and disliked them and then there are others that we avoid because our ‘self-censor’ tells us we’re not capable. We have to make sure that we do not stop ourselves from doing things because we have been brought up in an education system that taught us everything must have a satisfactory score and that the worst thing we can possibly do is get it wrong. Many of us agreed that we need to acknowledge that creative practices do not always have to possess a score or a saleable value but can represent an opportunity for simple enjoyment. 

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