Nurturing the Creative Flame in the Young


Over at Fuel Your Creativity we recently discovered an amazing post on the blog of Jin Yang and we in turn posted about it in The Art of Creativity. In his post he discusses a young artist named Connor who completed his interior with an amazing abstract painting, drawing in elements of the room’s setup and design.

It got me thinking about the nurturing of the creative spark in young people, so it grows with them as they develop into the creative adults they are being allowed to become. I say ‘allowed to become’ because growing up for a spell in the rural south of the United States, I saw that creative flame stifled more often than not, by both parents and the environment surrounding those struggling artists.

So in my train of thought, I stopped off in a couple of places. First, I felt extremely lucky that my parents were never the type to stifle us in our creative pursuits, but were instead, fully supportive of us in each and every step we took towards them. Having seen the other side of that coin firsthand, I understand that it does not always play out that way.

I want to thank all of those parents who take the time to not only recognize that spark in their child, but who nurture it, allowing it to grow into the flame that just may burn for the rest of their lives, blazing the trail out before them. This is an amazing feat that deserves more than recognition, in my humble opinion. It deserves tons of praise.

This was a mission that I took on as I grew and struck out on my creative path and began working with The Arts Council of Mississippi County, many years ago. We organized a summer program for children where I wrote a short musical one-act play for the kids to learn and perform. We taught them about set design and costuming as well and even had them make the set for the show and their costumes. They got a big kick out of the whole experience, and it was the first time I had partaken in a program with kids. I saw how eager they were to participate in the arts and what they garnered from it all. Even though I knew they were important, it showed me that these kinds of programs for  youth were even more so than I had first believed. Again, this only furthered my appreciation for those parents who cultivate their child’s interest in the arts.

As I looked at my own journey with the pen, I came to the second stop. I realized that I owed many people for my love of wordplay. The people who taught me the power of poetry and the poignancy of prose. After I came into the later years of my life, I could add influences and icons that I have a fondness for (Shakespeare, Frost, King…just to name a few.) Ones who certainly have guided and helped in shaping my voice, but when I look back to my youth and see moments in my mind where my sparks where first beginning to ignite, there are two names that shine out. Given that my first love and my first ventures with the pen were lyrical ones and  that my main outlet to this day for my angsty voice remains poetic, the names are no surprise: Silverstein and Seuss!

Shel Silversteinshel_silverstein

Shel Silverstein’s whimsical poetry has delighted me for decades, the charm of his words and his zany characters never ceasing to tickle my fancy whenever I dive into them. From his twisted perspective came volumes of the world with a view unlike any others out there. As a child I relished the opportunity to crack open one of his books and lose myself in his words. I never looked at poetry the same after a tour through ‘A Light in the Attic’ and ‘Where the Sidewalk Ends,’ and my attention was forever drawn towards the pen. The spark was igniting and my creative journey was getting underway.

catnhat2Dr. Seuss

Dr. Seuss’s oh so unconventional wordplay and fantastical worlds beyond the imagination that he masterfully crafted with his pen marveled me in my youth and beyond. Opening my eyes to the poetic and playful way of telling his inventive tales showed me the depth of dialogue one could sustain in verse. I longed to see that red and white hat poking up from the corner of any book that lay before me. So I could take that rhythmic ride to the lands where whozits and whatzits are commonplace things, not a mere grammatical faux pas of under-schooled beings. The scope of my pen lengthened to a broader verse that contained a story in each one. My poems were not for capturing a moment or extemporaneously expounding on the beauty of the world around me. It was about telling the story of the character trapped within it’s dark confines. My words evolved.

Both of these men had a lasting impact on my creative life and I truly believe that having the exposure to their words as a child molded and moved me into the writer’s frame wherein I picked up the pen and found so much creativity bursting to be explored.  I am eternally grateful to have had them to turn to in my youth. Who knows where my road would have led me otherwise? So I believe not only in the impact of having this youthful exposure as being a beneficial cog in the creative development wheel, but I also believe in the importance of having that exposure as well.

How was your creative flame nurtured as a child?

Rob is the talented author and graphic designer, celebrated podcaster and poet, who is now the co-editor and imaginative co-contributor of Fuel Your Creativity. With a background working through most areas of the arts, Rob works from a creative wellspring that shows no signs of running dry.


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