Creativity can seem mysterious and daunting. For example, you may have seen a piece of art and marveled, “How do they do that?” or maybe you have said, “I could do that,” only to fail miserably trying to make a simple sketch. But whether you are a budding artist or want to take your hobby to the next level, I believe there are some activities that will take some of the mystery out of cultivating creativity.

The fact is, we are all creators. Every single person, whether they know it or not, is constructing and building, expressing and broadcasting ideas and creativity. While it seems like a fundamental idea, I did not appreciate this until later in life, and it subsequently propelled my interest in art and has no doubt enriched my life.

I believe the first step to cultivating creativity is deepening your awareness of art around you. Develop your capacity to be still and present for long periods of time. Turn off your phone and sit in a park for an hour and just observe. Incorporate more quiet time into your life. Drive in silence. Practice being a better listener. Empathize. Become aware of your surroundings, how people interact, and why there are different sounds. By turning down the noise, both inner and cultural, you not only become a less reactionary observer, but you will develop an inner sensitivity and capacity to be inspired.

The next step is getting in tune with your interests. As you expand your powers of observation and expose yourself to new and interesting settings and places, take note of what resonates with you. What are you genuinely drawn to, not what you’re supposed to be drawn to. Note what colors, shapes, and situations catch your attention. What lifts you? You might already know your interests, but you also might learn something new about them, like a new angle or approach. But as you pay attention and dig deeper, you will start to connect dots, find solutions, and see new patterns of a bigger picture. In other words, creativity will start to flow.

The inspiration happens when you couple these powers with action. It is an act of faith to buy materials, experiment, and learn techniques as well as to start projects, especially when you might not know exactly how those projects will turn out. But if you want to turn ideas into material reality, you have to be willing to regularly put in the work, learn new approaches, and try new methods and techniques.

For me these practices have led to an interest in spirals, circles, and intricately repeating patterns. I love the balance and power of free-flowing movement held within a boundary. I now see these patterns as representations of spiritual truths. I subsequently try to approach my family life, health, and relationships with a certain relaxed freedom but with absolute respect for certain limitations and constraints.

I’m also drawn to the dynamic of stable individuation within a larger body. We are all individuals who are a part of groups, hopefully working together for what is good. Many of my pieces reflect how repeated etches can cohesively combine to a greater design, like the days that make up a life, the leaves that make up a tree, or breaths that make up a life.

The last step is to connect with others. In this day and age, there is really no excuse not to share your work with others. It is also easier than ever to find other artists who share your interests and have similar ideas. One thing is for sure—no one is going to see your work if it just stays in your garage or bedroom.

Expanding our creative powers, dedicating ourselves, and sharing our work can be challenging. They have been for me at times. But as I look around the natural world and see overwhelming evidence that the Creator of the universe loves creation, I am encouraged. It is also helpful to remember that, as humans, creativity is our calling. Whether it’s an art project or an interaction with a friend, we are all creators. The question is … what would you like to create?

Copyright 2019, The Old Schoolhouse®. Used with permission. All rights reserved by the author. Originally appeared in the Fall 2019 issue of The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, the trade publication for homeschool moms.

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Mike Fink is an active artist who lives in Decatur, Georgia. His work generally centers on shapes found in the micro and macro patterns of the universe. He also draws inspiration from his experiences growing up in Ventura County, California and years living in Andalucia, Spain. Mike is also a husband, father, guitar player, and a cable network writer-producer-copy editor.