Creativity and Getting Old

Recently, a friend sent me a technical paper entitled, "Optimum Strategies for Creativity and Longevity" by Sing Lin, Ph. D.  Now, I'm always looking for a little light reading, so I dove right into it.  The paper cites Dr. Leo Esaki, a Nobel Laureate, who claimed that:

"...Most of the great discoveries and innovations by the Nobel Laureates occurred at the average age of 32 even though the Nobel prizes were awarded 10 or 20 years afterwards. Furthermore, Dr. Esaki indicated that the peak creativity of most scientists occurred around the age range of 20 to 30 years. As one gets older, the experience increases but the creativity decreases steadily with the age. "

The paper concludes, "The most precious, creative and innovative period in your life is the 10-year period around the age of 32."  It goes so far as to imply that one should plan for one's creativity to wane and to be prepared for other roles as you mature in your career.
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Seeking Acceptance & Approval as an Artist

David Bayles and Ted Orland, in their book Art & Fear, suggest that the artist needs two things from their audience: acceptance and approval.  They assert, “acceptance means having your work counted as the real thing; approval means having people like it.”  In other words, we crave the acceptance of our critics and peers and opinion leaders to validate our work.  And we crave the approval of others to validate us.

I think this is normal for any artist, to seek not only approval but also acceptance.  We ask ourselves the deep questions of being. Does what I do have merit?  Am I touching people with my song, my book, my poem, my painting?  Is there some significance to my work, beyond my own skewed self-perceptions?  Is there some significance to me?  These are all valid and deeply felt questions that strike at the very heart of who we are and what we do as artists.

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Entering into God's Story

God the Artist

“Daddy, draw me a horse.”  So begins a scene typical to my home a number of years ago.  One of my twin daughters, Rachel or Paige, would appear beside me with a colored marker pen and a sheet of paper, and ask me to become Artist Daddy.  Now, this not difficult.  Horses, stars, dogs, cats, and flowers are typical requests for little girls, and they measure the quality of my work not by their realism, but by whether or not the characters are smiling. So I accept the challenge.  I take the pen from her delicate fingers, smooth out her tousled paper, and draw.

The result is part caricature, part cave drawing, but she is delighted nonetheless.  “Thanks Daddy,” she will offer politely.  And then she would muse, “Her name is... um... Buttercup.”  And then she would add green grass, a yellow sun in the corner, and eyelashes (because this is how little girls distinguish girl horsies from boy horsies).

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