What is creativity?

The nature of creativity is a popular subject prompting plenty of ideas and theories, but few definitive conclusions.

The Awakening
Polymer Clay
Sara Joseph

The Awakening, Polymer Clay Relief Sculpture, Sara Joseph

Defining it is like attempting to grasp a soap bubble with bare hands in order to examine it better. You may get lucky and have it sit shimmering with myriad colors on the palm of your hand. Just when you think you have understood it, it pops, leaving only the memory of its beauty behind.

What is creativity but an elusive ability as challenging to define as beauty,  harmony, or peace? Creativity is intangible. All human beings intuitively understand and applaud it but struggle to effectively pin it down.

Whenever there is a puzzling question that defies definition, it helps to examine what it is not.

• Creativity is not static but dynamic.

• It does not thrive in routine.

• It is not repetitious or dull.

Creativity is stifled in the presence of criticism of any sort. It can be snuffed out as swiftly as a flame in a windstorm.

What is creativity but the ability that invariably draws out the satisfying “Aha! “ response in humanity? It is universally inspiring and delightful. It winks with humor, smiles through tears, peeks from behind rigid rules and summons all our senses for its enjoyment. It allows for great leaps between unrelated subjects making connections that seem in hindsight elegantly simple and obvious.

Today a premium is placed on creativity in almost all circles of society - the corporate world, the world of science, art and technology. Entertainers crave it and chefs brag about it. You probably know of people you consider incredibly creative. Or perhaps you are one of them, because you've been praised for your creativity.

As an artist, creativity sometimes seemed to elude me. In dry seasons, I've found myself despairing of ever having had a creative thought or idea. It seemed that the harder I tried the less creative my work appeared to me!

It became a passion to attempt to understand some of the nature of creativity in order to summon it at will.  At least that was what I aspired to! I read all I could about it, conducted a few of my own, completely unscientific, experiments and had a lot of fun. Although, I can’t claim as a result to be an incredibly creative person today and am even less of an expert on the subject, I did learn a few interesting lessons of my own. These are what I hope to share with you, mindful that they may seem strange. Do keep in mind, however, that they have worked for me so perhaps they will help you too.

When creativity is measured only by a tangible outcome, like the solving of a problem, or the completion of an art project, it becomes elusive like a currency that must be labored for, earned with toil and guarded like gold. Something about that mindset forces it to flutter away like a butterfly, hovering just out of reach.

However, if it flows as an outpouring of your walk with the Lord, creativity becomes an organic entity with the potential to explode into unforeseen territories. It is like dropping brilliantly colored ink into a sparkling lake, watching the ink spread and change unpredictably in hue and intensity as it catches the light. The Lord can turn your limited creativity into something far more than you could ever have imagined, the more time you spend with Him and the more you trust Him with it.

Despite extensive study by the world's best minds, I have the sneaking suspicion that we have yet to see its potential in the world of art. I wonder what measure of expression is possible in an artist with a heart committed unreservedly to the Author of all creativity?

To be that kind of artist and to encourage others to do the same is the focus of my pursuit. Cleave to the Author of creativity and surely He will bestow it generously to the degree that we can receive.

Are there clues from nature and the Bible that could help? Can moments of unquestionable creativity be reproduced at will? Could we draw from His Spirit and express with our spirit that intangible quality of creativity that we all universally respond to? Have you the curiosity to explore, to search for glimpses of the answer to the question of what is creativity? Then read on.

Creativity in Art
Overcoming fear to nurture creativity.
Return from What is Creativity to Home

God is calling all creative Christians to return to the arts. This site is worth exploring to catch a glimpse of some of what is happening in contemporary Christian art.