Després de cinc anys d'activitat ininterrompuda hem fet una petita parada per a omplir els nostres pulmons d'aire fresc i net.
Aviat tornarem a donar guerra, no patiu. Mentrestant, podeu seguir-nos a les xarxes on (de tant en tant) ens deixem caure.

dimecres, 13 de maig de 2015

The magical creative frustration.

Aquesta entrada és en anglès. Si la vols llegir en català, la trobaràs aquí. Enjoy!

Creative action is not simple, easy nor plain. Creative action crystallizes an idea on the creative mind and gives it to the body, which has to capture, and exteriorize it making use of some kind of language. When this action represents a challenge but is adapted to the individual abilities, it can produce the flowing state. When it does not adapt to their individual abilities or the language that we want to use is not known enough, the result may not correspond to the expectations, and creative frustration can appear.

The occurrence of the frustration feeling related to creative act is positive for the creator, regardless of whether who suffers it is an adult or a child. It shows that there is an expressive intention, there is an expectation and self-criticism: facts inherent to the creative experience. In my opinion, there’s no need to prevent frustration because feelings have to be expressed: feeling frustration is normal and healthy. What is needed is to learn to manage and exteriorize this frustration: the feeling is licit, but maybe the way it is expressed (anger, aggressivity, destructive behaviour) it is not. 

Creative act is like a magic trick, that turns routine and quotidianity into something sublime, but to which we owe devotion and practice. In the following lines i’ll throw some reflexions about how to accompany that kid who is going through a creative frustration moment, and I will do it emulating the great magicians: with the trick (what you can see) and the prestige (what magically works and nobody can see). 


I want to share with you a reflection from Ana from Babble Dabble Do:
My advice is to not give up but rather to keep trying. Usually the best breakthroughs  come after failure, this is something I remind my kids oftenly. Failure is an important part of the creative process!

When we refer to creative action and children it should be a principle to put more emphasis on promoting the experience itself instead of the resulting product. If we allow children to explore, try and experience on its own, the resulting creative experience is much more gratifying, and since failure is part of this process, it’s necessary to give it visibility, importance and presence. 


When I see that my kids are heading to creative collapse, i just try to get close to them. I don’t speak, I only listen. 

At any time in our lives we all have faced a blocking moment and have felt the necessity of exteriorize our deception or frustration, so we can easily put ourselves in the kid’s place. In this moment, the last thing he wants is somebody looking for the bright side and proclaiming the virtues from what he has made. Only after expressing their feelings, we can help him turning the tables. And if finally we decide to talk, we have to be careful and make open-ended questions (- What can you tell me about your drawing? - What would you like to explain? - How much taller you want your tower to be? etc.) for any misinterpretation from our side can feed the feeling again. 


Barbara from Art Bar makes a really interesting contribution related to this point:
I decided to just start leaving specific materials out and cover the table with paper. So he had a big surface to work on (not just a small piece of paper) and then I would put out paint, or an array of crayons in a rainbow, or a new set of markers that he hadn't seen yet. Each time, I would just mention to him that there was a new material on the table and if he wanted, he could paint whatever he wanted and wherever he wanted... no right or wrong, no staying in the lines. It sort of worked, I mean...he started these big scribble drawings. He started using his whole body because he had the whole table to work on. He splattered, scribbled, made a lot of stairs, wrote his name, wrote the names of his favorite hockey teams. There was nothing fantastic about what he was creating, but at least he felt freed up and was making something! It's still a work in progress. The other day i asked him to write a card for a friend. Instead of drawing pictures (which he used to do) he used this whole box of stickers that I have. He covered the page and spent a lot of time on it. So i'm just trying to keep him involved in creativity, but it's very loose. My opinion is that creative frustration happens when you don't get the results you want, the picture in your head.

It’s possible that you go through a stage in which frustration becomes recurrent, it can even involve a little blocking, or underestimation of their own possibilities. We can try offering new materials, trying new space rearrangings… Let them manipulate objects, thinking with their hands is also a well known and widespread practice among groups of people who earn their living with creative jobs.


I have a small, beautiful pencil, decorated with some washi tape. It’s quite small and working with it it’s a feat itself. In moments of frustration, I use it to work on the same project that’s putting me on trouble, or to make some scribbles on a sheet of paper. I offer it to the kids when I see they are about to collapse. It’s not seeking a way out to the problem, is looking for a new problem and distract attention. 

Moving momentarily attention is a good way to refresh ourselves. Focusing on a new problem permits us to take distance and allows the solving magic to act in the background.


Once I gave my kids mimosa to manipulate, watch closely with a magnifier lens, and draw it. The process got twisted because frustration appeared, so I turned it into “burn” the mimosa: I offered them scissors to cut it and paint to use the flowers as a brush. This second process was rich and peaceful because they were not focused on what but on how.

The hardest part is to abandon the idea, to break it, to postpone it, “to burn it”. But often is the most effective: stop, take a bath, have an ice cream or take a walk. During the time in which we apparently disconnect, the mind continues to work. Looking for strategies to solve the problem. The mind submits (the object, the idea, the work in progress) to a transformation. 

Creating is a rich, complex and nourishing process. Also it is exhausting, frustrating and desperating (sometimes). Creating, as Vygotsky said, is to crystallize an idea, and it means that this idea exists inside the mind of someone much before it gets projected. And everyone knows how delicate is crystal. Crystal is resplendent, translucent and delicate. Just like an idea. 

Maig del 2015.

If you want more information about creativity, failure and frustration, you can read...

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