Creative Toolage

Bethan ChristopherFifteen years ago I painted a canvas using two tubes of oil paint and two kitchen knives. It was an act of pure expressionism, an outpouring of raw creative energy.

At that moment, had I not had a canvas, I probably would have used the fridge door. Or a sheet. Or anything I could get my hands on.

The image that emerged was incredible. I could never have recreated it. (And really I take no credit for it.) Looking back it was as though my hands, wrists and eyes and ability to move were as much tools for the Creative Splurge Expressing as the oils and the metal blades.

As you may – or may not – know, over the last week I have been collecting up stories and interviews with artisans in my area. Even though I have only just started this process it has already become clear just how diverse the expression of Creative Splurge/Spirit really is.

Sometimes it’s channelled into expression of the Self. Sometimes it emerges as a tool for survival. Frequently it is used to create solutions where no solution has been before.

Sometimes it shows up as pure inspiration.

No more. No less.

When this sort of creativity calls, it doesn’t matter where you are or what you have. Your only choice is to honour the energy and express it with whatever you have.

Bethan Christopher

At these times it seems that creative types will always find a way or a tool to express the spark. This is part of the nature of being a maker. If you lack paints – you carve your idea in wood with a fork. If you’re away from your instrument, you’ll strum the tune with a hum or make do with the drum beneath your fingertips.

Creativity is a force, an energy, a compulsion. Where there is a will to create, there is a way. Where there is something that needs expressing, there’ll be a tool or form to express it. Where an idea wishes to be born, there will be a hand, a mouth, a body, a brush, a wheel, a knife, a needle to bring it into being.

What has been your most unconventional creative tool of all time?

Mine seems to revolve around surfaces. Age 15, my arched bedroom ceiling became the perfect canvas to create an oil pastel mural. The mural was of an ancient Chinese man meditating beneath a tree, surrounded by orchids and butterflies. It was big. It was beautiful. It was probably a form of vandalism. Annoying for my parents, it was also oily. When I left home, my mum and dad realised that nothing would paint over it and they had to replace the entire ceiling. They didn’t get cross though. Lovely old parents.

What is your tool of choice now?

Which creative tool would you love to master?

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