Why You Need a Calculator and a Crayon

Among other things I am an artist and an art educator, and one thing I hear people say to me over and over again is how they “wish they could be creative” and how they “can’t even draw a straight line”.

Guess what?

Your ability to apply one point perspective or render a perfect copy of your cat has nothing to do with your ability to be creative and reap the many benefits of creative action. Creativity is simply an exercise with as much importance in your life as your ability to think and solve problems logically.

As human beings we are all inherently creative, even you and the most boring teacher you can ever remember from middle school. Every day we make decisions and come up with solutions accessing not only our logical brain, but our creative brain as well. Countless studies have shown a strong link between creative activities, wellbeing, productivity and problem solving.

I see it like this… imagine each person in the world is a pie (any kind of your favorite pie will do — seriously, don’t stress  about flavors here) and we are split up in different ways. Your pie may be 1/4 sweet-logic brain and 3/4 salty-creative brain and my pie may be 2/3 sweet-logic brain and 1/3 salty-creative brain. In order to achieve a balanced pie that is going to have all the yummy-ness your sophisticated palette enjoys, we need to even out the flavors a bit. In other words uber creative folks need to exercise their sweet-logic brain with some sweet-logic games, and uber logical folks need to exercise their salty-creative brain with some salty-creative doodling (or play dough, or whatever). The point is, both sides of you are equally as important to your health and sanity.

In my experience as an artist and teacher, I have had the privilege of witnessing countless logic dominant minds relax, expand, enjoy and light up when they get to play with paint or clay. I have watched countless left brain ruled personalities loosen their ties, unfurrow their brows and allow new ideas to flow as tensions release when they get their creative juices flowing.

On the flip side, I find it cathartic to fill in forms and work on problems with defined yes/no answers — it brings me a sense of order and definition which serves to soothe my sometimes scattered mind.

Do yourself a favor today, and exercise the side of yourself that does not get to come out to play very often. Grab a Crayola or a calculator and have some fun, the other side of your brain will thank you.

Love, Liza

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