Can creativity be taught?

March 11, 2020  •  Leave a Comment


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In my last post I wrote about the difference between being creative and being talented.  I concluded that they were two very different things.

Since then, I have thought about another side of the question: can creativity be taught?

This is a tough one--it gets into the issue of nurture vs. nature and a person's ability to learn and grow.

I certainly believe in the ability of an artist--or any person in any field--to be able to learn more and grow better at what he or she loves and makes, be it a painting, a building, a book, or a computer program.  I also believe we inherit a certain amount of ability from our parents and ancestors.  How much of each and what controls is, I guess, really the question. 

I believe we start out with a bit of ability--or talent--then, depending on the environment, and nurturing, willpower, and perseverance, we grow and get better.  I think as an artist we grow when we study the work of other artists.  No man, and no artist, is an island.  We learn new things by being exposed to the work of others and trying it for ourselves.  This means hard work, letting go of convention, and at first, a lot of uncertainty and insecurity.  I believe this is true in any endeavor. 

I know that for me, my work has gotten better as I have studied other photographers.  I began wanting to shoot like the photographers in National Geographic  and Life magazines. I was heavily influenced by the work of Ansel Adams and Edward Weston. Although I still revere these artists, I have moved beyond them.  Increasingly, I am attracted to the abstract, the whimsical, and the energetic in photography.  I have come to love closeups of ordinary things, unusual perspective, and common things shot in a different way. I believe that looking at the work of other photographers have taught me how to see things differently, thus encouraging and confirming my own creativity. 

In my spare time, I am reading a book which purports to encourage artists, and all people, how to be better at what they do by using more of their innate mental ability.  It is called "Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain," by Betty Edwards. She has some amazing insights into how, by unlocking the power of our right brains--the artistic side--we can be much better at every endeavor.  One of the things a reader learns is how to encourage creativity.  Perhaps this book will answer the question I posed at the beginning of this blog.  Stay tuned......




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