Thanksgiving For Creativity

Hello Everyone

As we celebrate Thanksgiving it occurs to me that I have so much to be grateful for in particular CREATIVITY.  Having spent my school career apologising for being creative rather than being a brilliant scientist or mathematician, I now understand creativity to be a gift with as much potential as any brilliant scientist – something to be nurtured rather than supressed.  (Although I will always be grateful that I did go to secretarial College because now I can type very fast, which means I have more time to stitch!)

Two quotes from Sir Ken Robinson that I love:

“Creativity is defined as the process of having original ideas that have value.”

“Creative people live in their heads and not their bodies – they look upon their body as a form of transport to move their heads!”

In a talk entitled Do Schools Kill Creativity Sir Ken Robinson gives an entertaining and moving case for creating an education system that nurtures rather than undermines creativity. It is a brilliant talk and worth listening to – you can view the full talk here.

It is my experiences that in our busy, cyber space world, where we are used to receiving instant gratification many of us are not prepared to spend time learning a technique, to make a mistake, unpick a few times and persevere. No one wants to do it wrong. Ken tells us that “if you are not prepared to be wrong you will never come up with anything original”.  Don’t be afraid to make mistakes – even if our teachers rapped us over the knuckles for making them in the past it is ok!  Everyone is capable of producing a beautiful piece of embroidery even if it does not follow the “rules” – it may represent a fine watercolour painting or look more like a rough oil painting but none the less beautiful.

One of my first attempts at embroidery. I was quite pleased with this at the time!
Embroidery at a later stage after much perseverance and practice.

Have confidence in what you create:  A little girl was engrossed in her drawing in the classroom and the teacher asked her what she was drawing.  The little girl replied she was drawing a picture of God. The teacher said “but no one knows what God looks like” and the little girl said “they will in a minute.”

He tells the story of an 8 year old little girl Gillian Lynne, who was considered to have a learning disorder.  She could not concentrate and was disruptive during class.  It was suggested by her teachers that the parents took her to a child specialist for testing as she may have ADHD.  The specialist and the mother spent half an hour discussing the child’s “problems” while the child patiently tried to sit on her hands to keep still.  At the end of it the specialist asked the mother if he could speak to her privately so he told the child to wait while they went out the room – but as he left the room he turned on the radio which was sitting on his desk.  The minute they left the room the child was on her feet moving and dancing to the music – the specialist and mother watched this from the open door and  the specialist turned to the mother and said “you know your child is not sick, she is a dancer, take her to a dance school.”

So the parents did take her to a dance school and it was wonderful because the school was full of people like Gillian who couldn’t sit still, people who had to move to think.  In time she was auditioned for the royal ballet school, had a wonderful career there and then founded her own school, the Gillian Lynne Dance Company.  She met Andrew Lloyd Webber and has since been responsible for some of the most successful musical productions in history and is a multimillionaire! The moral of the tale is that had she seen another specialist she may have been put on medication and told to calm down which would have presented a very different outcome in her life?

In summarising it occurs to me that we should follow our creative urges in order to feel totally fulfilled – IF YOUR FINGERS ITCH STITCH.  Don’t worry about making mistakes if you are not prepared to make mistakes you will never learn or come up with original ideas.  Use embroidery designers (like me) as a guide rather than try and re-create an exact replica and you will see your own unique style unfold and blossom in ways you had never expected!

Wherever you are have a wonderful week and weekend and many happy stitching hours.  Trish


21 thoughts on “Thanksgiving For Creativity”

  1. This is so true Trish! I make mistakes every day, but then I learn something every day too! You have been an inspiration for me, and I truly appreciate the time you take to share with all of us!

  2. Although my innate creativity was fairly well stifled both by parents and by school, my father used to tell us ‘He who never made a mistake never made anything’. In recent years when I have allowed (encouraged) my creativity to flourish those words return to me. A woodwork teacher I had once said there were no mistakes only challenges to overcome. So there are different but positive ways to look at ‘mistakes’. Mistakes are OK.

    My own definition of art is that it is a creative idea carried through to completion all by one person. Sorry Trish, but that means your kits are art only to you, not the people who buy and embroider them.

    1. Thank you for sharing that with us and you are so right about the kits they are a guideline only – hopefully leading to the individual’s own creative ideas:) Trish

  3. A wonderful post. You should somehow provide a special link at the top of your web page for this one.
    Arts provide the links that join all humanity. We speak different languages. We do not all read and write. Some are blind, deaf or have other physical handicaps. Our intellectual abilities vary widely. We live in cultures with differing values. Yet through all this, all people throughout time appreciate forms of art. We all do something, although it may not always be visible. We all feel and respond.
    When I read your blog or see your work I might not always rush out and do something straight away, but the knowledge builds. My skills build. Your efforts, even when your back hurts, are definitely of continuing value to me. This post is a great reminder.

    1. Its true, we do value accademics more then art. Just look at the schools here in the USA. When they have to cut a program because of budget problems, it is always the art or music courses from what I have seen. And I know two amazing artists in my family and friends circle, and they can’t find work using their talents.
      And I can identify with the little girl who could’t sit still. I can’t just watch television. I have to be stitching or drawing or I’ll eat (which my diet doesn’t need). Needle art keeps me from being fidgety.

      1. You are so right Gail and I am just like you can’t just sit and stare at the screen – if I am not stitching I do crochet or something but have to have hands busy. Trish

    1. Thanks Tricia glad you found it interesting – I could listen to Ken Robinson’s talk again and again – must mean a lot to you being a teacher:)

  4. Trish, what a lovely sentiment. I haven’t listened to Sir Ken yet, but I plan on doing so. Thanks to your encouragement, my own creativity is blossoming and I’m having lots of fun. Thank you for that. I’m also watching my own daughter create things in ways very different from my own. Her creativity knows no boundaries. It is a wonderful thing to see.

  5. Dear Trish, what a wonderful story. I could knit before I could read or write. I remember being fascinated watching my mom knitting. After catching me trying to knit the piece she was working on, she started me on the basics. I was 5 at the time. From there on I just carried on from knitting, sewing crochet and my passion embroidering. 🙂 Along the way there were many mistakes too but I saw them as part of the learning. You too have taught me things through your newsletters and at the moment I am in to needle painting. I have no formal training and taught myself through magazines, books and the old favourite trail and error. 🙂 Carry on with the good work. Love, Elza

  6. I love that talk too and have listened to it several times and even talked to others who’ve heard it! It must be YouTube’s most popular vid!!=) I too was very moved by the Gillian Lynne story and went on to read his book as well.

    I also enjoyed this definition of creativity (which is now on my e-mail sig line):
    ‘Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep.’


    1. Excellent Elizabeth I love that quote! Interesting that you have listened to the talk and read the book – I think it would make a wonderful Christmas present for some members of my family who are creative, presume it can be found on Amazon? My poor husband is an accountant and surrounded by 4 women who are all creative – he kept saying “oh no not another artist” but having listened to this talk I think he sees it differently and lives in hope that one of them may reach the status of “multimillionaire” and support us in our old age!

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