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Stories From The Studio: The Value of Play In The Creative Process by Gabrielle Dearman

Our Monday night artist group met this week for the first time after taking a break for the holidays. As to be expected, the new year has many of us in planning mode and dreaming up new things to incorporate into our creative endeavors. We discussed these things during our group time and found the theme of “play” to be present with many of us during our sharing and conversation time. We shared about things we’ve begun to try in our creative processes, experiences that fostered new perspective in our creativity, and the need we all have to make time for experimentation in our endeavors.

Matt Tommey shared about the dramatic leap he has taken in his basket-making work by adding colorful encaustic and painting techniques into his process. Matt expressed that he was having fun learning and trying the new techniques. He encouraged us in sharing that many of his past great works were made in times of intentional creative play. mattsfts

Creativity seems to require play to be a part of the process. To be creative is to offer new insight; to present something in a way that hasn’t been seen and experienced before. To get to the “new,” artists must search out and experiment with new tools, mediums, techniques, ideas, and styles. All artists, regardless of their mediums of choice, need to make time to play and discover.

My vast experience working in the child care industry as teacher and nanny for well over a decade has taught me much about the high value of play and discovery in the processes of learning and creativity. I know full well that children learn best through play. I can give a sponge and tub of water to a 18 month-old child, and she could stay busy for hours experimenting and playing with it in a variety of ways.

I am pretty sure it is the same with grown-up artists! There is a famous quote by Pablo Picasso that says, “All children are artists. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.” Exactly! The common element with creative children, and creative adults is PLAY! Grown-up artists know how to play in their creative process.


“Stories from the Studio” is our weekly series by Gabrielle Dearman where she will be sharing about the happenings at River Oaks – The Worship Studio’s local creative community here in Asheville. Check it out each week as Gabrielle shares highlights from our local artist group meetings, community days, workshops, and all the other great things happening in our creative community.