The creative spirit needs play

The Sparkle Experiment small creative play equals connection

The spirit in which art is made is more important than the art created. By focusing only on the ‘result’ of our actions, we can forget that the experience of making art – having fun and being playful – is what really matters. Children are masters at being playful and are encouraged to play on a daily basis, but as adults, we can loose the connection to our playful spirit.

Fred Rogers in The World According to Mister Rogers encourages “Play does seem to open up another part of the mind that is always there, but that, since childhood, may have become closed off and hard to reach. When we treat children’s play as seriously as it deserves, we we helping them feel the joy that’s to be found in the creative spirit. We’re helping ourselves stay in touch with that spirit too. It’s the things we play with and the people who help us play that make a great difference in our lives.”

How can we connect back to our creative spirit? Make something today. Then make something tomorrow and rinse and repeat. Sometimes all it takes is getting out the colouring crayons and make a big juicy bad art mess. No rules or direction necessary. The only goal or focus is to have fun and feel playful.

“To tap into that natural creative spirit, recapture your childhood enthusiasm for everything around you. Work with the reckless delight of a child.” — Nita Leland

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How to collage images

The Sparkle Experiment small creative play equals connection

Collage is easy and fun process to make art out of existing art. While this experiment focuses on using just images, you can also collage with paper and typography. By using preexisting images, you don’t have to worry about drawing anything from scratch. If you are a beginner and worry about your art being messy or imperfect (which are vital aspects of art-making), this might offer you the freedom you need to get started creatively. Rod Judkins in Figurative Painting with Collage quotes Nita Leland: “Collage is like a hall of mirrors. Every direction you look, you see something different and visually stimulating.”

You will need: photographs or images from magazines, books or any paper source. Scissors or scalpel knife. Optional glue or sticky tape and a tray to put things on or work from.

  1. Cut out images that catch you eye. Don’t overthink: cut out and create a pile.
  2. From your pile, pick images and start arranging. Play around with different combinations without thinking of a final look.
  3. If you like a combination, take a photo or fix it in place with glue or tape.
  4. Optional: Set a timer for 2 minutes to force quicker decision making so once the time is up, the work becomes finished by default.

The Sparkle Experiment small creative play equals connectionIdeas for further experiments:

  • Cut out words or letters to add to the images.
  • Draw over or around images to add details.
  • Take photos of selected images to create digital versions and play around with layouts on the computer.

Have a jar/box/folder/somewhere to keep all the images you cut out as anything unused can be used at a later date. Sometimes you might spend your time cutting images and other times you may spend your time arranging. Having an image bank to draw from allows you to get creating much quicker in the future.

The artist Max Ernst in Max Ernst believed “Collage is the noble conquest of the irrational, the coupling of two realities, irreconcilable in appearance, upon a plane which apparently does not suit them.” Collage quickly allows you to bring together unexpected images and arrange them however you like. The process is one of trial and error but also very ‘low-risk’ because you don’t have fix anything in place. Because there are so many strange and different possibilities with collage, you’re only limited by your imagination.

“The only way to be creative over time – to not be undone by our expertise – is to experiment with ignorance, to stare at things we don’t fully understand.” – Jonah Lehrer