Igniting Adult Creativity

Kids are urged to create, but parents have lost the wonder of art

The popularity of wine and painting franchises has been well reported in numerous media outlets. Men and (mostly) women pay $30-$50 to dabble on canvases and sip merlot for two or three hours.

After channeling their inner Picasso, they then go home with their own version of the displayed “masterpiece” meant to inspire them.

One company, Pinot’s Palette, began in 2009 and has sprouted locations in more than 31 states. The franchise model serves as an excellent business not only because it’s entertaining, but also because it cuts to the core of the “adult” experience.

In a world where scheduling playdates is the norm, this might be the new normal.

Even though most elementary school kids can see themselves as artists, adults tend to abandon art as they grow older, voluntarily dropping out because they don’t feel they have the “creative gene.” Others are too critical of their own handiwork and simply give up. Still more just don’t have the time or make the time for it.

Humans are infinitely creative by nature. Yet we experience blocks — and this is especially true in a modern, specialized economy. Adults tend to avoid activities that don’t reflect their talents. Parents proudly prod their children on with almost any art project, and later tack them on the refrigerator for all to see. Adults rarely get that kind of support for their creations.

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It’s hard for us to justify painting for leisure if it’s not a skill we feel secure about. Wine and painting franchises, like Paint ‘n’ Sip in Boise, Idaho, hone in on this insecurity and give people a reason to get creative.

Yet some question whether alcohol is really necessary for fueling creativity today.

It’s possible the renewed interest in painting has less to do with the pursuit of happiness and more with the inclusion of alcohol.

It’s been 20 years since Bob Ross hosted the memorable “Joy of Painting” series on PBS. The late instructor struck an approachable demeanor while making those “happy little trees.” Yet his laid-back tack is a stretch from the more structured, copycat approach in some wine and painting franchises. Ross didn’t rely on liquor to fuel his creativity. He painted, it seemed, from a place of sheer delight for the medium.

Even Ross’ show misses the point. Why not give adults a blank canvas and let their imaginations take it from there? Mimicking others’ work has its place in the learning process, but it’s better to tell budding artists to instead follow their own muse.

Today’s adults are far more creative on social media. They concoct funny video snippets, use free online tools to make funny pictographs, and crack wise on Twitter. Why not reclaim the canvas while they’re at it?

It’s possible the renewed interest in painting has less to do with the pursuit of happiness and more to do with the inclusion of alcohol. It’s arguable, on one hand, that wine and painting parties are helping people move past their inhibitions about creativity.

In a world where scheduling playdates is the norm, this might be the new normal. If you don’t have the time to get inspired, the alternative is to schedule your inner Rembrandt. And make sure to fill that glass up again while you’re at it.

How long before communities where marijuana is legal start throwing pot and paint parties?

Creativity isn’t something that can be forced. It’s meant to be inspired. It’s understandable that creative activities are much easier to complete with the help of liquid courage. But at the end of the session, the satisfaction from such an endeavor is low. Copying someone else’s painting is a pretty basic level of creative processing, only slightly more impressive than playing Candy Crush.

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The popularity of wine and paint franchises is a sign of the times. By involving alcohol in the process of artistic creation, these businesses may be offering a false sense of creativity. Budding artists instead need to recognize the difference between creativity fueled by spirits and truly creative energy driven by an inner spirit without age limits.

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