Dec 21, 2013

A Creative Life


Two-thousand and thirteen started in an unusual way when a piece of firewood in the wood pile caught my attention. It had curves. I plucked it from the pile and examined it. Somehow I could see a figure within. I found a sharp knife and started to carve. The floor of my office soon began piling thick with wood shavings, and within a couple of days this slowly diminishing piece of cedar took life as a fat figure, then a thinner figure. It was feminine, so feminine. I sanded it for a soft finish. The most difficult part of the carving was her neck. It needed to be carved carefully and I didn't want my sharp knife to slip and decapitate her. I left the face blank, not carving it at all. I really need more experience with faces. The wood slowly came to life as a small statuette about the size of an Oscar. I call her Eve. She's the first, full woodcarving I have ever done, and I'm very proud of her.

Carving is not easy. Every new experience takes concentration. Next, I carved ten wood spirit faces that stare down on us from the living room wall, each with their own personality, but after carving a couple of wooden kitchen spoons and spatulas, and a futile effort at a Madonna and child, I stopped. I had destroyed two good sweaters with my sharp knife and almost sliced off an extremity or two. Too dangerous for this rusty carver.

In the spring I bought a new small sketch book, a set of pencils, an eraser and a sharpener, and I began to draw anything that I found interesting. The sketcher in me re-emerged, and soon, the water-colour artist. It's now been a year of sketchbooks and water-colour books filled with my new drawings and paintings, and they all sit proudly on my office shelf. I am now just about to complete my first full, all water-colour book of urban art. There is only one of these books. Like Eve. They are products of the creative energy that flows though and drives each of us, and it gives me such a sense of accomplishment.

We all have it in us to do something creative. We are all born creative. The world itself is a work of art, this great, perfect ball of blue and life. Or, as the Beatles song says, "Because the world is round it turns me on." Well, the world of creativity and art turns me on. It always has.  And, I have made it my calling to live in this creative world since I was a child. I was also very fortunate to have made my career in the artistic world of cinema and television. Funny thing is, there has been no one who has been able to dissuade me of the pleasure of creating something, although some have tried.

Creativity and art are the essence of who we are as human beings. Everything we take for granted in this manufactured world has been created by innovators and artists, and people who were no smarter than anyone else. What hasn't been created by us? We have the basics of the flush toilet and plumbing, the light bulb and electricity, the car and the mechanical engine, the computer and world wide communication. Everything we use that gets us through our day was invented and created by someone or a group of innovators and artists. So why isn't art, creativity and innovation the top subjects taught in schools?

To create something from raw beginnings and bring forth an emotive or practical entity, is us. A painting could bring awe, a melody could tugs at heart strings, a motion picture could tell a story that may connect and influence others, a well designed building could function as a structure that enhances a street scape and evokes a culture, a knitted sweater could keep you warm.

For me, I have experimented with many arts and creative endeavors. I've written songs, short stories, film scripts and poetry. I was a choir boy, I play music, I've acted in plays, directed and photographed films, photographed super models, sketched portraits, carved statues, designed apartments and coffee houses, and have photographed many major cities from helicopters. I have created businesses that create. But there are many things I still have yet to do; perhaps write a novel, paint a masterpiece, build a house, write a new Christmas song, help elect a government that holds our environment as sacred.

Society likes to define people in a singular word, a sentence or an elevator pitch. However, people are not that shallow; never have been, never will be. We are all multi-dimensional and multi-talented creatures who must continue to grow, evolve and transform our world.

No matter what age you are:
Don't be passive. DO!
Do something, build something, create something.
Don't let the grass grow under your feet.
Build life and live it.
Embrace an art and CREATE something.

Create an emotion for someone. Even my little statue Eve has brought smiles to people's faces.

"Being is not just a thing you are, it is also a thing you do."
- Seamus Heaney

"I can't think of a case where poems change the world, but what they do is they change people's understanding of what's going on in the world.
- Seamus Heaney

"All I have, really, is my creativity."
- Jack Abramoff