It is better to have enough ideas for some of them to be wrong, than to be always right by having no ideas at all."         Edward de Bono 

How do you approach a request to give a workshop on creativity? That is something I've had to tackle over the last couple of weeks. Sometimes the word "creative" is what scares people off. "Oh, I'm not creative!", " I could never create something like that!" "Being creative is beyond me."
When we were toddlers we were open to every new idea that came along. I can bounce crazy schemes off my 3-year-old grandson and he has no problem letting his imagination fly with them. As we become adults we seem to get the idea that everything we do has to be done the "right way", that there is no room for experimenting, that being "wrong" makes us inferior. Did you know that Thomas Edison made about 1800 attempts at finding a filament that would work in his light bulb? After about 1000 attempts someone asked him if he was getting discouraged and he answered " I've gained a lot of knowledge... I now know 1000 things that don't work."
The idea that it's OK to be wrong seems to be the first thing to be overcome for adults. Brainstorming is a great start. The participants, whether one or a room full, are encouraged to come up with ideas as quickly as possible. There is to be no criticism or evaluation, negative or positive. Every idea is recorded. At first thoughts will flow easily, with all of the ordinary ones coming out, but after that the innovative, inventive, creative ones will start to come. Ideas can be generated from each other and everything is recorded, even the most way-out, humorous, crazy, seemingly impossible. Remember, no evaluation at this point.
Only after there is an exhaustive list do you go back and start grouping, looking for potential, finding favourites, rethinking. But still, don't abandon anything; it might be helpful at some time. At this point it might be useful to put your list away for a day. Sleep on it and look it with a fresh eye in the morning with coffee!
One of my favourite techniques is List-making. I know we've all done it, usually as a To Do List. But that is no fun.  Let's say you're looking for a theme for a Crazy-Patch type needlework sampler. Start with a clean sheet of paper and a pen and jot down ideas. You might start with some simple ones, like "florals" or "geometrics". Then your mind starts to wander through "my life", "insects", "letters". Maybe wider themes, like "EAC", "PEI", "beach", "farm". Maybe narrower, like one emotion of "love", "happiness", "hope". And on and on. By now the page is filling up. Push a bit harder to fill the page. Sometimes it is helpful to work your way through the alphabet and think of ideas for the different letters. Are you getting with the plan?
What follows next depends on you. How about a list of possible motifs and another list of possible techniques? Explore different match-ups between these two lists. You never know what neat creative combinations will appear! So now for me, I need to get these notes down in a workable layout for a class. I have a receptive group waiting and I think it will be lots of fun. I can't wait to see what the results are going to be.
Joyce Gill

1 comment:

  1. Joyce, this sounds like it will be a great workshop,wish I was there.

    Sue Thomas


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The Embroiderers' Association of Canada (EAC) is a national non-profit educational organization whose purpose is to have a fellowship of persons who enjoy needlework and wish to learn and share their knowledge; and thereby to work towards maintaining higher standards of design, colour and workmanship.

Our aim is to preserve traditional techniques and promote new challenges in the Art of Embroidery through education and networking.

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