Defensive Creation: What It Is & Why You Should Try It

Unfortunately, I think that most of us would be hard-pressed to find someone who has had a “normal” childhood. So, today I’m reaching out to all of you who felt alone, scared or anxious, and began to get angry when all of those feelings followed you into adulthood.

I was told by someone recently that “people who don’t have their shit together shouldn’t try to tell other people how to get their lives together”. I don’t agree. While unsolicited opinions are usually unwanted, valuable advice is valuable advice, no matter what the source. Just because I don’t have the ability to solve the issues I’m having, doesn’t mean I don’t have a piece of advice that will help you with your situation. That would be like a doctor not treating a patient with cancer because they themselves have cancer.

A recent abstract I painted when I was incredibly angry. This was painted three times before it felt right.

One of many outlets I’ve used over the years is something I’ve come to callĀ defensive creation. I define defensive creation as a flow of ideas and/or images that runs from your mind to a piece of paper, sculpture, computer, etc. This flow is like a metaphorical pulling of the drain plug in a bath-it can bring you peace by creating a visual of the feelings you have inside, or drown out destructive thoughts by forcing you to focus on something beautiful.

In short, defensive creation is the practice of using art processes to find peace.

I want to take this moment to say that you do not have to be a professional artist to participate in defensive creation.

A picture of Ponyo I drew when I was in a good mood.

Sometimes, sitting down and doodling stick figures on a piece of paper is more therapeutic to me than working on an intricate piece. Don’t limit yourself with expectations of what your art needs to be-just sit with a blank page in front of you and allow your mind to do the rest.

I think that we crave this creative process. Humans are imaginative creatures with intense feelings. I like to imagine these feelings as a palette. Anger, sadness, fear, happiness, love-they are all the vibrant colors that compose a rich, symphonic canvas that is ultimately our humanity.

I want to challenge you to defensively create the next time you’re feeling angry, sad, or even excited. You might be pleasantly surprised by the results.

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