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Pres

Qotw: Can Creativity Be Taught Or Is It Something We Are Born With, And. .is Creativity Really Needed To Make Good Pottery?

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This week I am killing two birds with one stone, as the question RonSa posted was: Can creativity be taught or is it something we are born with? However, right after that Chris Campbell asks:  and. .is creativity really needed to make good pottery? It seemed like to me that the two went together well as it was the way Chris posted it, using the quote feature on the forum and adding her question.

 

So to rephrase: Qotw: Can creativity be taught or is it something we are born with, and. .is creativity really needed to make good pottery?

 

All of you know my background, so from that I would have to say yes to the first part, I really don't know about the second part.  I believe that we inherit unknown attributes from our parents, and over the course of time those attributes get lost or found, nurtured or destroyed, or let naturally to develop. Some of us are born with different perspectives or points of view, different ways of seeing and understanding our surroundings, and ways of dealing with them.  I remember a child that took apart a screen door frame at 4yrs old because he found a screw driver and there was door, with things that fit together. . .what a mess. He could have been punished, or made to put the door back together with help, learning how to make the parts fit, we chose the latter.  What do we define as creativity? Is it intuitive leaps, or trudging slowly and constantly toward a solution?  Websters defines it as: the ability to make new things or think of new ideas.  Really does not tell us much.  Another example: Multiple range color blind child, sees mostly values only. when he paints that is what he sees, but his palette is with all of the colors. His paintings are garish to our eyes, as he does not even understand the values of pure colors as he only sees the grays. After looking up the meanings/feelings people get from colors, and learning to arrange the palette in a new way for himself based on those feelings, we get a completely different painting. Who is to judge better or worse from the ones before. Are they more creative or not?

 

I believe that creativity for me is not about making great pots every day, but making lots of pots, seeing lots of pots, reading about lots of techniques, and seeing possibilities. Then working with these possibilities to create more pots, and maybe to get one or two that really, really please me. Its is the immersion in the media that helps me to become more creative within it. I think that when we stop fighting the clay, and begin to feel the flow of the clay in our hands, and learn to work with it instead of trying to fight it that we make our biggest strides forward. Is it creative? At the same time, are good pots, made good by repeating what was done before or by copying Colonial pottery or traditional African or Japanese forms? There have been people that have resurrected lost techniques in pottery such as Southwestern Indian pottery. They had to analyze and recreate what was lost from generations before and reinvent the techniques. . . creative? 

 

No answers here, but then are you creative?

 

 

best,

Pres

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Guess it depends on how you define "good" pottery. People can turn out technically good functional pottery with basic design. I'm sure the military or work camps or hospitals have lots of this. 

There seems to be a range of creative abilities in every field so I think it can't be entirely a learned thing. 

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I think creativity is more of thinking outside the box. You can teach students to come at problems from many various perspectives. Many people forget how to think outside the box , but they can come back to do it. I think it depends on how rigid they have become in their thinking. 

A good pot can be technically excellent. Designing a good pot may need more creative processing.

 IMO

Marcia

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Guest JBaymore

Just about EVERYONE (stopping short of the total generality) has "creative abilities".  Whether we are developing or suppressing that attribute is the real question ...and any art educator knows that we can strengthen anyone's abilities if they are open to it. 

 

Too often ........ early "training" (loosest sense of the word) makes people believe that they do not have those abilities.  So they do not work to develop them....or are afraid to try to do so.  They believe that they are not "creative" ....... so they aren't.

 

We are then  back to our earlier discussions somewhere here on the forum of the various "intelligences" that people inherently possess.  And how they might develop their creativity within those core intelligences.

 

As far as "good" pottery goes......... someone with good eye hand coordination skills and observational skills can be taught to copy designs produced by others.  So to a degree......... yes.  Lacking those "crafting" motor skills, ....... difficult.

 

best,

 

...................john

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I use to like Ron until he asked this question...geeessshh.

 

" commoners" are taught to throw, form, build pottery pieces every day of the week. So the technical aspects can be taught: just like glaze chemistry can be taught and acquired. Although, rather from experience or gifting: seen more than a few who's throwing skills are exceptional: almost like watching a sculptor forming a piece.

 

Throwing and forming are one skill set; glazing is an entirely different set. I am mesmerized by those who can paint murals and works of art with slips, under- glazes and glazes. Here too, there comes a point where this skill set moves into " art."

 

Without preaching.: my personal belief is that creativity is divinely inspired. Do not want to break forum rules, so I will stop it here.

 

Nerd

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I agree with terrim8, but on the whole I don't know.

 

Still, based on experience, I've known so many people who are completely non-creative I think first you have to born even having an interest in art, let alone whatever it is that gives you the ability to hone a skill. You can also be born creative and have the ability to do art beaten out of you, literally or figuratively, or just crippled to the point you only turn out the occasional bit of art, but can't or won't make it a focus.

For my part, no one in my biological family that I know of can either do art or even cares to look at it. Their walls are literally bare of art and they don't even listen to music, and seem perfectly satisfied that way. My ex was of the type who'd done a few promising paintings in high school but was more interested in other hobbies with his free time and thought painting was 'girly'. I've also known lovely folks in classes I've taken who really wanted to be good artists and enjoyed what they did, they liked the artist lifestyle very much, but to put it kindly they weren't winning any scholarships with their barns and redwoods. Based on that last observation, even when the will and time spent is there, the wall may not always breached into whatever the next level up is, but I think the average person who is really interested can still produce really enjoyable stuff just with practice, even if it doesn't reach into the sublime, and that's fine.

When I first started doing grown-up art, when I was on the right track I would pretty quickly get "In the Zone" so to speak. Other artists I've known also seemed to be familiar with this sense of everything else falling away and suddenly you're connected to your materials, your ideas seem to flow through your hands.

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I think creativity is a coming together of a number of factors, our education, upbringing, workplace and environment. We are all aware of how spontaneous and unreserved very young kids are. Crayoning all over a full page and using all the colours in the crayon box or sculpting blobs out of play dough and seeing monsters in those blobs and so on. Then the kids get taught to “colour inside the linesâ€. Rules, formats, restrictions, expectations, a vital part of our society and yet the spontaneity of art is now getting quashed. Having guidance giving a balance of instruction for the development of work (art) with the freedom of expression and assertion of ideas without the fear of “failure†so perhaps we don't loose that creativity along the way would definitely help.  So I guess to answer the question I would say yes we are born with it and yes we can be re-taught it. Is creativity needed to make good pottery? Probably not but to design good pottery then yes. I would also add that I find what Tom (Nerd) is doing with clay and glaze chemistry is also highly creative. Taking a different view / look at materials and standing preconceived ceramics knowledge on it’s end I find a very creative thought process.

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I think creativity is something you teach yourself by exploring what your interested in. I suppose you could say you are born with it, because everyone is born with certain things that they find interesting and unique about the world. So I would have to answer the first part of the question as both, born and taught. One thing I will say is that I see so many people say, "I am not creative at all."  Somewhere in the past, someone turned the word creative into something that you "either have it or you don't" and not something that you gain by experience of doing. Again art of fear opened my eyes to this problem more than anything else. I stopped looking for inspiration and just started making work and picking through the small things I did until I found pieces of things that I enjoy in my work. 

 

Good pottery doesn't require creativity if we are talking about the pot doing its function. A vase that is straight sided can hold flowers just as good as one that has curves. But a slight bit of creativity in that vase can change the entire attitude when viewing the flowers.

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Can creativity be taught or is it something we are born with?

I like to think creativity is relative to what one's heart desires to express. And that is only limited by your imagination; which we are all born with. I do not know if you can teach creativity, but rather inspire a person to find it in themselves through imagination.

 

Is creativity really needed to make good pottery?

Good pottery is relative to the beholder. A mother thinks the first pot their child makes is the best in the world. And a collector of fine arts will certainly value of pottery made by a Master Potter, of any era and origin.

 

No I do not think you need creativity to make a good pot, as much as you need imagination. I doubt anyone could point out what a potter did in their creativeness to make a pot good. Maybe different or better than another. But they, do know, what makes a good pot for them.

 

I think Andy Warhol said it best, “Don’t think about making art, just get it done. Let everyone else decide if it’s good or bad, whether they love it or hate it. While they are deciding, make even more art.â€

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I knew a young woman who was very creative.

 

It wasn't often... but every once in a while I would get the opportunity to listen to her play the piano and on very rare occasions I would get to listen to her spontaneous compositions and was mesmerized. She truly had a gift.

 

She decided to become a dancer because she loved to dance more than play or compose on the piano. Dancing was her passion and she pursued with all her effort to the dismay of everyone that knew her. The problem was she was a horrible dancer, she was clunky and uncoordinated  It was heartbreaking to watch her dance knowing she had a gift and choose to ignore it.  Her parents and family pleaded, her boyfriend pleaded, her instructors told her she had no talent. She kept on dancing.

 

 

 

 

 

We are all born creative, right from the very beginning we need to come up with creative ways to communicate our needs to those caring for us so they know when we want to eat, play or be changed.

 

Learning to speak is our next creative process, we learn by listening and copying those around us. We make mistakes, we learn some more and we move on. We grow and with practice we get better at it.

 

Isn't this what art is all about? learning to communicate with others?

 

I think creativity is a coming together of a number of factors, our education, upbringing, workplace and environment. We are all aware of how spontaneous and unreserved very young kids are. Crayoning all over a full page and using all the colours in the crayon box or sculpting blobs out of play dough and seeing monsters in those blobs and so on.

 

So yes, we are born creative and we learn how to be creative by listening, copying and learning from others.

 

The opposite is also true, sadly we can be taught how not to be creative and worse, we sometimes do it to ourselves.

 

I think somewhere in here I also answered Chris's question too.

 

I use to like Ron

 

I love you too Tom

 

 

 

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This is a very difficult question because who decides what is creative and what is not? I think whether an art piece is deemed "creative" depends on a set of unspoken rules and the state of the art at the moment, but this fluctuates all the time and promotes some things while leaving out others.

But as far as people are concerned, I think experimenting is something that people can learn. I don't believe in an innate capacity. Of course we all have affinities with different things and we might be comfortable in one field but not another, but this has more to do with taste and interest. The idea of a "genius" is something I have always struggled to accept because it creates a hierarchy between geniuses and commoners which I think is unfair.

 

As for pottery, I think it depends what your goal is. If you make functional ware, technical skills are needed. If you want to make art, maybe an experimental side is necessary. But then again, what is "good" pottery?

 

I think for me it is important to accept that there is an tacit understanding of what is good and not good, creative or not creative, but that it is okay to create outside these pre-existing ideas too, and that it doesn't take anything away from your work...

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Good pottery doesn't require creativity if we are talking about the pot doing its function. A vase that is straight sided can hold flowers just as good as one that has curves. But a slight bit of creativity in that vase can change the entire attitude when viewing the flowers.

I will take a argue with this statement all day long. I have used good teapots and terrible ones, creative ones that do not work, and creative ones that work extremely well. When you are working towards functional ware, just because a handle has a standard position, or a bowl is thrown a certain way, does not mean it is the best. I have worked at redeveloping a lot of the functional ware I make so that it is more user friendly, more aesthetically pleasing(to my eye), and those that buy or get gifted my pieces seem to understand that they are different, and work well. I believe to do such even in the limited space of "functional" can be and often is creative.

 

best,

Pres

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Ron said: "So yes, we are born creative and we learn how to be creative by listening, copying and learning from others.

 

The opposite is also true, sadly we can be taught how not to be creative and worse, we sometimes do it to ourselves"

 

I remember being with Ron Roy back at Nceca in 2016: listened and took in every word the man said. A friend asked me after I got back why I spent 3 days listening to an old clay guy? My response was: " if you are given the chance to pick fruit from a tree of wisdom, you are the fool if you chose not to."

 

Which brings me to this Forum: lots of wisdom, experience, and knowledge floating around in here: if you truly want to learn, it is an open door to do so.

 

Your last comment held true as well: sometimes people do it to themselves. Sadly, I have met many over the years that do not need enemies: they are their own. As I have seen more than a few self deprecating comments made here. Making mistakes ( many) are part of the learning curve in pottery: I have filled more than a few trash cans with mine. However, I have given myself permission to make them, knowing that is part of learning. If you beat yourself up every time you make one, you will be one bruised person.

 

And for the record: no one can make a work of art in pottery, unless they have the perfect clay. ( shameless self- promotion) although I do firmly believe that.

 

Nerd

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Another example: Multiple range color blind child, sees mostly values only. when he paints that is what he sees, but his palette is with all of the colors. His paintings are garish to our eyes, as he does not even understand the values of pure colors as he only sees the grays. After looking up the meanings/feelings people get from colors, and learning to arrange the palette in a new way for himself based on those feelings, we get a completely different painting. Who is to judge better or worse from the ones before. Are they more creative or not?

 

I will answer this qotw when I have time to properly write a response. 

 

In the meantime, I wanted to share this: https://scontent-sjc2-1.xx.fbcdn.net/v/t1.0-9/10351821_10152363243887134_721721534982706512_n.jpg?oh=528dd1eae5424d9797905d6fa9067e6f&oe=59C57D47

 

This is painted by a friend of my parents'. He is color blind. He has all his colors coded carefully by shade, saturation, etc., and paints beautiful vibrant art. To me, the fact that he found a way to create these paintings for others to enjoy even though he can't fully appreciate what he is painting is incredible. His artwork is beautiful on its' own, but knowing that he is painting on faith kicks it up a notch for me. 

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Giselle,

Fantastic painting, but much more of a true talent whether handicapped or not. The example I had was of a student that I had in school that we did the same sort of thing, after some research. However, back then there was not the internet that allowed information to be so readily accessible.

 

 

 

best,

Pres

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Creativity:
 
Can it be taught?  Yes; but probably not by the standardized educational dogma.
 
Is it necessary to make a good pot?  Of course not.  Unless, you are a creative person, and just happen to be making pots (George Ohr is an excellent illustration)! (laffing face).   Neither is it necessarily true that all creative makers make good pots.  What makes a pot good; isn't that a label applied exclusively by the user and not the maker?  Oops, getting off topic.
 
Creativity has little to do with art, but the general public, and so far most of the prior posters here, seem to think that creativity is limited to artists.
 
Creativity is about paying attention and making good use of the available resources to meet the objectives and constraints of the current (and possibility future) demands.  More concisely creativity is about being successful on the current mission using the available resources.  Think MacGyver!
 
Much of what has been said by others applies to creative activity if expanded to all domains not just the 'art' domain. 
Albert Einstein was creative when he decided that he would just follow the math and see what happens.  Max Planck quantized energy as a way to get the math to work (and Louis de Broglie did the inverse)  the men were are recognized as being 'creative' for just showing up at work and focusing their efforts on getting their job done (a clobbered quasi-quote from Chuck Close, an artist).
 
Robin Hopper's advice was frequently some version of "try it and see!" in response to a 'will this work?' question.  That is sufficient evidence for me to consider Robin as being a creative individual. In many ways it is the mantra of a creative person.  N.B. some of the 'trials' can be 'thought experiments.'
 
I know a several retired engineers who have taken up making pots to have something to do.  Their approach is generally different from the approaches of the art students.  They start with the materials and invent ways to use clay to produce the object they imagined. The art student generally wants to be shown the "proper technique."
 
Being creative is about how you go about doing your job, whatever that job is.  It is not about the evaluation of an observer nor is it limited to a special domain or discipline.
 
As a side bar, a recent thread elsewhere was about creating the "perfect" porcelain.  A different creative potter will take whatever porcelain (or any other clay body) is available and find a way to turn that clay body into amazing pots full of excitement and interest.

 

LT

Edited by Magnolia Mud Research
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Guest JBaymore

Creativity has little to do with art, but the general public, and so far all of the prior posters here, seem to think that creativity is limited to artists.

 

 

Please re-read mine.

 

best,

 

....................john

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LT, that is an interesting observation. I believe you are right in some ways. However, as my answer to the question comes from the context of my experiences as an art teacher, my reply came from there also. I realize full well, that creativity exists in all fields of endeavor. I also realize that there are differences in being productive and creative. There are those who in their everyday life solve simple or complex problems, usually drawing on their knowledge and experiences to develop workable solutions. This happens in the arts, the sciences, engineering, architecture, just to name a few. When does one jump from the problem solving of everyday to that realm of creativity that we come often to consider as genius? When does one move from being a mathematician to being an Einstein, or from being a painter to being a Monet?

 

I taught art, and saw talented kids, and those not so much so. When it came down to the end, which student would end up with the best pieces, or be in my high regards for their classwork.? Neither. It is not about how talented they were, but how they used what they had. Often, talented students knew they were, and had an attitude that whatever they did was enough. However, I would often have kids that just worked hard, from project to project, working during class, looking things up in the library, taking work home, keeping up with their sketchbooks and doing everything they could to make each project the best they could. In the end it was like the turtle vs the hare idea. The long term hard working student would be more productive, grow more, and have much to show for their efforts. Whereas the flash in the pan talented students would often be done in a day or two, with little to show for their efforts. Now give me a student that is talented and wants to work hard to get there, Wow what a semester that would be, and I did have many of them. I believe this analogy works in any field or endeavor, not just for the Arts.

 

best,

Pres 

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 Often, talented students knew they were, and had an attitude that whatever they did was enough. However, I would often have kids that just worked hard, from project to project, working during class, looking things up in the library, taking work home, keeping up with their sketchbooks and doing everything they could to make each project the best they could.

 

Amen

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Creativity comes in all shapes and sizes. I believe that anybody can bring creativity to anything they do. My husband builds spreadsheets that feed into complex but easily understood graphs and charts. My sister reupholsters furniture. My brother in law can make just about anything out of wood. Another sister loves to decorate her home. None of these people pursue "art" for itself but all of them show creativity in what they do, and I feel that what they create is art, just not art on a canvas or in another form most people are comfortable with. An old definition of "art" is "a skillful plan". So anything that is made for any purpose is done so with a plan for its' use and could be considered to be artfully created. To me, creativity means making something to fill a need or solve a problem. That need can be, I want new curtains; I am hungry; that corner of the garden is ugly and barren; I can't pour boiling water into my hands but I want to drink tea. Somewhere, long ago, a creative person discovered that cooking eggs turns them from an unappetizing mucus to a delicious savory meal. 

 

I do believe that everyone is born creative. However, I also believe that some people have more natural creativity and others have a better environment for developing creativity. Then there are intuitive thinkers and concrete thinkers, which affects the way a person interacts with the world and also with how they approach creativity. An invention or solution that may be obvious to one person and they way their minds work may be unthinkable to another until they see that it does, indeed, work. A concrete thinker may be more comfortable trying something they have seen or building on something someone else tried first, and they also tend to be more practical about their approach. I think these differences add to the delightful variety we find in other human beings and adds so much interest to life. 

 

Too much conformity smothers creativity. Yes, it is nice to learn to do things "the right way", but look at the things people have accomplished doing things that were "impossible" and done the "wrong way". I think it's so important to empower children to be creative at a young age, so they retain that flexibility of mind and willingness to learn from results even when they are not what was desired. I think the worst thing anyone can do is tell themselves or tell others that they are not creative, artistic or talented, because that puts them in a prison of the mind. 

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If a person can be taught the application of thought, then creativity may be taught (in any field or context). That may not be sufficient to develop self-sustaining steam, but it can be taught and applied to some degree. An inherent creative drive may be untutored, or be fine-tuned by external influences, and is more likely to be sustainable throughout life, barring too many adverse obstacles to self-expression.

 

Defining "good" pottery is dicey. Does it mean correct and well-expressed craftmanship? Does it mean a recognized level of sophistication and aesthetic communication as determined by experts?  Is the application of certain standards inherently "good", just because they are known to work, or is the whole issue too existential, too cultural, too political even, to really be approachable?

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