Passion and practice
The path to creativity is more straightforward than you think
Have you ever strolled up to a work of art in a gallery, at a market, or in an art studio and marveled: “I could never do that—I haven’t got a creative bone in my body.”
To many, ‘creativity’ is a mysterious force that is otherworldly, a gift bestowed upon an individual—but is that really all there is to it? You’re either creative and worthy of taking a brush to canvas, or… you’re not? Or is there more to being creative than being ‘gifted’ with talent? How does an artist discover and nurture their innate ability to create?
The truth is less mystical and more pragmatic: like any learned skill, even art is not completely intuitive. What a viewer sees hanging in a gilded frame in a pristine gallery is a culmination of research, study, experimentation, and practice. The finished work is the final page of entire backstory. The tip of the creative iceberg, so to speak.
Anyone can be creative
While it’s true people have a broad range of affinities and activities that resonate and inspire them, the creative process isn’t strictly limited to the arts.
Let’s unpack that: creativity comes in many forms. In its simplest definition, a creative person has or shows an ability to make new things or think of new ideas. If you’ve ever had to create a tool to complete your work, made a meal out of only what you have on hand, or come up with a solution on the fly—you too—have expressed creativity. While not everyone will find a creative path through art, there’s no reason to restrict or limit yourself because you haven’t done it before.
Finding success in progress
“It really isn’t about talent,” Chantel Traub, artist and creative facilitator at United Active Living shares. “It’s about passion and practice—it’s very rare that someone can create a successful work of art on the first pass.” Chantel continues: “learning how to bridge the gap from an initial concept to where your creation takes its final form isn’t a simple or linear process—there’s a lot of planning, learning, and trial and error that occurs before a piece of art is realized. You have to want to do it, and put the effort in to make it happen.”
For many, however, taking on a new creative outlet can be daunting. Walking into an art supply store, with the array of colours, projects, equipment, and mediums can feel overwhelming and the fear of failure or of the unknown can sometimes overpower the desire to create.
Discovering your process
Stepping into the Art Studio at United, you’ll find residents who have spent their lifetime honing their craft as professional artists sitting alongside residents who have only recently begun their pursuit of the arts. Brushes and supplies in hand, laughter ensues while the latest project takes form beneath their hands—or doesn’t.
“This is where ‘trusting the process’ comes into play,” Chantel says. “If you take on a project knowing your first attempts will likely end up crumpled in the bin, it takes the pressure off, and becomes part of your learning progression. Ultimately, the frustration you feel is part of discovering what your creative outlet is. Finding the process that resonates with you, will encourage you to practice to develop your skills—and guide you in finding a way to channel your passion.”
Reaping the rewards
And residents have channeled their passion to great success. Across United communities, original art created by residents, rather than commercially produced prints, add vibrancy to hallways and common spaces—including the Art Gallery, where a group exhibition of resident artwork entitled “Till the Cows Come Home” offers individual reflections and creative expressions of home.
When grouped together, the collection reads like any professional gallery space with cohesive and diverse works inviting discussion and a closer look. The opening reception held last month led to rave reviews from residents, guests, and contributors: “Coming together for this collaborative effort was a labour of love.” “The residents put so much work into their pieces, and their support and encouragement of their peers really came through.” Just a few of the many observations echoed at the event.
It’s not just about the ‘art’
When United communities were conceptualized, the art programming and fully equipped studio were among the first ‘must-haves’ and were established not just as a means to fill blank spaces on the walls. For older adults, the benefits of creating art are well-documented—learning to express oneself through art not only provides a channel for self-expression, creative expression through art has positive impacts to overall health and well-being as well.
For many residents, having unrestricted access to United’s Art Studios 24/7 is a way to connect with others, and add purpose and personal challenge to their day. United residents have the freedom to use provided supplies to discover their process on their own, and can also participate in guided workshops that introduce new mediums and techniques.
Jim, a long-time resident, took his very first art class at United: “I’ve always enjoyed playing music, but I gave painting a shot—the facilitators in the studio were very welcoming, and I had the time to spend trying something new, so why not?” Jim continues, “Just knowing the studio is there makes it easy for me to head down, grab some paints, and have a little fun. I really enjoy creating paintings, and learning new techniques now. I paint almost every day.”
“The benefits of having a fully operational Art Studio speak for themselves —when potential residents tour United, the Studio is a beacon,” says Maddison Klein, Active Living Advisor, who first joined United as a facilitator in the Art Studio: “So many people are in awe of how vibrant and busy the studio is, and the variety of workshops our facilitators create are unique and interesting—many residents choose United to experience art like they never have before. Here they find joy in creativity they didn’t even know was possible.”
Ready to discover a new creative passion or hone your art practice? Check out United’s programming calendar for the latest workshops, or book a tour today.