The power of play, or finding the artist within you

"Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up." (Pablo Picasso)

I love this quote. As I often say, it expresses a hope that as adults, we can stay in touch with, or rediscover, that inner creativity. As I found out both personally and through my teaching, it is never too late to try!

Projects playfully created ... 

For me, pottery remained just a hobby until my late 30’s, when I formally 'became' a ceramic artist. In this chapter of my life, I’ve been designing and making unique sculptural basins, ceramic paintings and other decorative objects both for private individuals and for companies. 

Then came the discovery that I love teaching pottery and using my knowledge to uncover creativity in others! Teaching children, and most especially adults, has convinced me (not that I needed convincing!) that we all have the capacity within us to be creative, and that, whatever the medium, it is NEVER too late to start!

I consider myself lucky... As children, my artist grandmother encouraged my brother and I to believe that anything was possible. She used to get us to play simple games to break down barriers and inhibitions. One of my favourites was when she played music in her studio and got us to paint the musical rhythms onto paper with our eyes closed. After a few strokes, we could open our eyes and, turning the page to the side or upside down, we invariably spotted a shape that could be turned into something more. It was a bit like painterly cloud spotting! There was no right or wrong, no expectations, just the playful present.

Actor, comedian and writer John Cleese describes creativity as an ability to play, an open mode, valuable for its own sake. I totally subscribe to this view! As people leave their responsibilities and stresses outside my studio door, so their playful energy and individual creativity is released and laughter invariably follows. It goes without saying that this process of personal discovery is also extremely rewarding for me, and I delight in watching my students discover what they are capable of!

Over the years, most of my adult students (I’d say 99%) have come to my classes with no prior experience at all, save perhaps a pinch pot at school some 30 or 40 years earlier. Invariably, they warn me in advance that they're “not creative”… They are just looking to learn something new, find an activity that will take them outside of their familiar world in a gentle, artistic, social, even therapeutic way. Within 2 or 3 lessons, they were often hooked. My classes become the highlight of their week: an opportunity to disconnect from the stresses of daily life, learn a new skill, and in the process rebalance their energies while rediscovering their own latent creativity. Unexpected friendships form, problems are shared, advice is offered, and the experience becomes holistically enriching for all of us.

I'm very proud of my students's creations and always insist that they sign their pieces. "Otherwise, people won't believe that you made it", I tell them from experience. Just take a look for yourself!!

... by new adult artists!