I sat on the outdoor sofa with my eight-year old nieces, each of us immersed in a version of creating; they were drawing and I was writing.
Well, I was “writing” in theory.
In reality, I was observing their creative process.
My nieces are twins. Like every set of twins I know (and there are many in my family), they have very different personalities. And very different ways of creating art.
Two Methods of Creating
One creates deliberately. She thinks about where she is going and how she wants to get there before picking up her markers and pens. Her body hunches over her lap as she works with focused intensity. She pours energy into every detail.
She has a particular talent for drawing what she sees with accuracy. She drew a picture of the skirt and t-shirt she was wearing. I was blown away by her ability to recreate the drawing of a cat on her t-shirt, without looking in the mirror.
The ability to draw with this type of accuracy is a talent I never had and always longed for.
Here’s a picture of her work in progress:
My other niece jumps right in, putting pen to paper, often before she has fully considered what she wants to create. She follows her intuition and where the drawing wants to take her. Her drawings depict real things — a garden, a beach scene, fireworks — but in the way that she sees them rather than how they exist in reality. She is an abstract artist, following a vision in her head.
In my creative endeavors I relate to this style.
Here is her drawing of fireworks:
She creates with joy. Her body is relaxed: she leans back against the sofa, with her feet planted on the seat and knees pointing to the sky, the drawing pad resting against her thighs.
At one point she grabbed a pen in each hand and scribbled with both at the same time. She smiled and giggled while she did this.
In an hour, she finished five drawings — a prolific output I aspire to.
Her sister, operating at a more deliberate pace, was still in the middle of her second drawing — similar to how I produce.
My “abstract” niece’s hands were covered in marker stains, while her sister and had only slight ink smudges on one pinky.
(I also attribute some of this to the fact that my niece with the marker hands is left-handed. As a lefty I know smudges comes with the territory in a culture where we write left to right.)
The Lessons I Took Away
What struck me as I watched my nieces is that they are both talented — in different ways. One can draw accurately what she sees, and the other has a talent for seeing beyond the construct of what’s there.
One creates at a slower pace while the other is more prolific in her output.
One is not better than the other; both are necessary, and I saw myself reflected in both of them in different ways.
What’s important is to know your talent and embrace it.
My “abstract” niece is not trying to color in her own lines or accurately draw what she sees. She embraces the joy of creating from a vision in her mind.
My “detailed” niece was not in a race with her sister for who could create more drawings. She went at her own pace.
Each did her own thing, and I felt joy in seeing how they inspired and supported each other.
For me, it was a profound lesson not only in creating, but also in self-acceptance. When we embrace the talents we have, rather than bemoan the talents we don’t have, we can find joy in our process and celebrate what everyone contributes.