Creativity as Play

Creativity as Play

By Shelley Klammer | Posted 8/21/06 | Updated 11/16/23

Many people who come to my art classes tell me they are not creative. While I believe wholeheartedly that everyone is creative I don't really argue anymore. "That's ok." I tell them. "We just play here. Pretend you are in kindergarten again." I have not yet seen anyone who does not take a deep breath of relief and dive right in.

Play is never a waste of time. It happens when we let ourselves go beyond the rules and expectations of everyday life. Art is a wonderful playground. If we can let go of needing to make our artwork overly important, creativity can be a simple gesture of freedom. A splash of orange here, a touch of green there. We can wear our heart on our sleeve.

I recently started a taking a clay class as a requirement for my job. I thought it might be tedious or hard but in the first class the instructor assured us that we would immediately find our own way of moving the clay if we let ourselves relax and play. I surrendered and dove in. I made no effort to achieve anything and very quickly fell into a state of quiet presence. It was like playing with mud pies. I felt like a child again.

In allowing myself to make mud pies I realized how much of my life has been focused on making strong efforts, on striving and achieving. There has been a linear hardness to my thinking that is related to fear and limitation. With play there is no fear, no effort.

Creative play is one of the best ways to experiment and learn about our feelings. It involves risk and this gives us the opportunity to perfect ourselves. It is a form of thrill seeking. Within spontaneity are our hearts, our feelings and our souls. Play is never boring because it follows it's own interests. If creative play becomes boring, we are planning and efforting too much.

Play is in truth our natural state of being and we can choose to live our lives more and more from this open, effortless state of awareness. Creativity opens and conditions this wider awareness. By allowing our thoughts to flow organically and effortlessly during play, ideas arise spontaneously and we can access an intelligence and inspiration far greater that our familiar minds. Play can inform our lives in surprising ways.

Next: The Art Habit

Copyright ©2006 Shelley Klammer. All rights reserved.