It’s exciting to have Alicia guest blog here at The Inspired Classroom.  Her work as an artist and educator gives a great perspective on the creative process.  Here she talks about the 5 Ps of the Creative Process – inspiring, for sure!  ~EMP

The creative process is so often shrouded in mystery; perpetuated as this magical happenstance of a benevolent muse who alights on the shoulder whispering cosmic secrets into the ear of the ever awaiting starving artist soul. This fortunate interaction brings forth a sudden burst of inspired artistic genius, a frenzied period of work and the creation of a true masterpiece to be embraced by the adoring public for generations to come. This process is believed to be experienced however by only the fortunate few who possess the “gift” of artistic ability, a very rare condition bestowed upon an individual at birth as a preordained ordinance by the powers that be. The rest of the world must simply look on in awe, repeating the mantra; “I could never do that, I don’t have a creative bone in my body.”

As an artist and an educator, I would like to clear up some misconceptions about the creative process. Are there moments when the stars align, the moon is full, mercury is on its direct course, and the universe gifts an individual with talents so great they are considered to be a prodigy at the age of four? Well yes, perhaps Mozart was one such person. However what about the rest of us mere mortals? Are we doomed to live a life without color, without song, without movement until the next great mind saves us from our drudgery? Absolutely not.

The truth is that the creative process is actually a process, meaning it requires a lot of time, work, and energy. But the best part about this being a process, is that anyone can be creative. Every person is a creative person. Yet a 2010 study performed by researchers at the College of William and Mary, found that creativity has decreased among American children in recent years. Children have become less able to produce unique and unusual ideas, are less humorous, less imaginative, and less able to elaborate on ideas than their peers of just ten years ago. While I won’t go into the details on the many potential reasons why creativity among our children or population as a whole has declined, (To read full article on study go here: http://tinyurl.com/3rgukq3 ) I will however let you in on my vision for how we may remedy this situation and allow even the most staunch denier of his creative aptitude embrace their inner artist. It all starts with the process. Allow me to introduce you to the 5 P’s of the creative process, which I believe to be absolutely essential to the success of any creative endeavor no matter the medium. They are: Perception,

Practice, Perseverance, Patience, and Passion.

Perception
Perception requires the individual to be a careful observer and an active listener, taking in the subtleties of their surroundings, be it in the classroom or out in nature. The creative process requires us to take note of the delicate intricacies all around; the various shades of blue that make up our sky, the complex patterns on the wings of the butterfly, the way that light and shadows dance across our reality to shift our point of view, the grace and fluidity of motion of the cat, the quality of the bird’s song, the body language, facial expressions and terms of speech from the people we see in our communities. All of these interactions become a part of who we are and how we choose to express ourselves as creative beings. The artist is ever observant and present in their daily life, and knows that every moment has the potential to be transformed into a work of art.

Practice
One does not become a star overnight. In order to be successful at any endeavor in life, you must practice. Practice helps us to hone our skills, become more proficient, more adept, and better prepared. Actors, dancers, and musicians rehearse, athletes train, fine artists spend hours in the studio learning to master techniques. And while practice may not necessarily make for perfection, it certainly can bring us closer to our goal. Especially when combined with the next P.

Perseverance
Perseverance is good old fashion stick-to-it-ness. That means not giving up when things get difficult or push you beyond your comfort zone. Trust me in that most artists and creative individuals make many mistakes along the way before producing something of true beauty and innovation. There will be stumbles along the way, people will tell you no, that it cannot be done, they won’t understand your vision or your voice. Sometimes life will get in the way of your creativity and you can’t find the time or will to practice. This is normal and the key to unleashing your full creative potential is to press on and keep creating despite the difficulties.

Patience
Patience and perseverance go hand in hand. Sometimes we feel as though we just have nothing to say so therefore we have no reason to create. When you are stuck in a creative slump the best advice is just to have patience with yourself. Go back to your notes, your journals, and your sketchbooks. You may find an old idea floating around that will inspire something new. Check in with yourself and see if you are truly being perceptive and an active participant in your daily life. Get involved with a group, learn a new technique, read some poetry, or take a trip to your local art gallery, museum, or performing arts center. Experiencing great art inspires great art.

Passion
In the end it all boils down to this, passion. In whatever you choose to do in life, however your creative spirit manifests, do it from a place of passion. Be excited about your work. Be hungry to learn more; to continually grow, change and evolve. Share your passions and ideas with others; you never know who you may inspire.

Remember that creativity takes shape in many forms, not just in the ability to draw or sing, as many may believe. Creativity lies not in the technical proficiency with which one moves a pencil across the page or in the maintenance of perfect pitch, but in the means in which one chooses to express their inner thoughts and communicate them with the outside world through their chosen medium. Creativity lies in the color choice on the palate and the attitude of the brush strokes, the emotion expressed through the performance of song, the fluidity of words on the page and the voice the author gives them, the way in which the mathematician approaches a difficult problem, how the engineer finds a solution to an everyday issue, the scientist generating his hypotheses and executing the experiment, the historian digging deeper to learn both sides of the story. Creativity is at the heart of innovation.

If we are acknowledging that our children need to be able to function well in collaborative groups while expressing creativity, innovation, and ingenuity of thought, practices, and ideas to be successful in our future global economy, then shouldn’t we be encouraging the development of those key characteristics now? By fostering the growth of a creative mind early on and supporting its continual development throughout the various stages of learning and cognitive maturation, we are granting the individual students the opportunity to stretch their thinking, reach outside the box, and take risks that will help them attain a higher order level of understanding than ever before.

I encourage you to put the five P’s into practice in your daily life and instill them in your student’s work across the curriculum. There is no limit to what the creative mind may achieve.

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