Recycled Road to Creativity

We create out of recycled thought, yet don’t often think of it this way.

We base learning on what was once learned. Knowledge built from prior knowledge. We base method on methods that have come before. Certainly it is not a bad thing, but one to be admired. Why?

One thing humans can do very well is learn from others. Borrow like an artist! In fact, most professions start the creative or scientific process by borrowing from somewhere else. One idea sparks another.

We layer on top of the ideas of others. We build upon to improve or take the idea on a transformative journey.

Raindrops in Spiderweb as Art

Since we borrow so freely, what is truly new then? When we discover, we may just find, even by accident. How often do we find the unknown? Create the unimaginable? Few do or ever will, but the many before have laid the groundwork and the path to follow. Never do people design from thin air, even when designing as an individual. Experience always influences.

Ernst von Glasersfeld asserted that “knowledge is constructed actively by an individual in a way that fits one’s experience, that provides a viable explanation of one’s experience.” source  Google Scholar.

At least when we do repeat or recycle, we do it with a twist – that of being an individual. And each individual does it in their own unique way.

Then you have this quote from George S. Patton, “If everyone’s thinking alike, then someone isn’t thinking.” At least being an individual with unique experiences keeps everyone from thinking exactly alike.

Some make holes in the fabric of pioneering for others to repair, and in research, that leads to remarkable discovery with innovation and breakthrough. (Shamelessly, pardon my obvious verbal and pictorial pun.)

Nature as Inspiration

Some steady, lay a foundation and make things easier to play their role. And some come full circle, veer off in tangent and add more color and interest to life. Some pretty incredible things get created too.

Still more thoughts on creativity to come. Having engaged in many a creative pursuit, I have a tendency to look at the process quite often. I often wonder what makes some more creative than others. Creativity seems as natural to humans as breathing and is a part of everyone’s repertoire of existence. Some just shelved it as everyday pressures and responsibilities became the way of life. Oh to have a childlike curiosity and play…

See Relax Like a Creative Pro from yesterday to catch up on the series.


About Garden Walk Garden Talk

I love to photograph, paint, draw, design, garden, travel the world, and pass on a few tips and ideas that I learned through experience as a Master Gardener and architect. I am highly trained in my field and enjoy my work each and every day. I garden in Niagara Falls, NY in zone 6-B. Find me at:
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40 Responses to Recycled Road to Creativity

  1. Have you ever heard of Austin Kleon? He wrote Steal like an Artist.

  2. Yes, Greg I have heard and read. I always learned that as artists we “borrow” not ‘steal’ so I used that term instead. Another must read is, The Artist’s Way, by Julia Cameron. It has a spiritual component.

    • I suppose for Mr. Kleon it’s all about marketing.

      • I guess he is commercial since he does so many tours and talks. It is like he says and researched though, there is always someone that did it before. Plus if I recall, there were other famous artists that made reference to stealing ideas and works. So he was anything but original, and he even acknowledges that fact himself.

        Long before him, it was always recognized that we borrow, which was never considered a bad thing. The point was to have originality to the work, and since all artists ‘see’ differently, chances are the idea would expand and transform. In school we all were given the same assignment, we all just interpreted it differently. Kinda like the W4W posts I did. You start out the same, but like a river flows, all pick a different direction. My next posts in the series are on making a difference and what is beauty. In the beauty post I use a video from an expert on this topic.

  3. Deborah - d.mooncrab says:

    As always, I love love love your photographs Donna. Especially the ones with cobweb and rain drops on it. WOW!

  4. Really beautiful photos! 🙂

  5. Beautiful photos and thoughts 🙂

  6. Jen at Muddy Boot Dreams recently posted similar thoughts about this, too, Very insightful thoughts by two of my favorite garden bloggers. Your appreciation of all the various stages of innovation and the critical roles played by various participants is especially wise.

    • I will have to check out her posting on the subject. She does not read here that I know and I do not visit her blog very often so I will have to take a look. Architecture is a team endeavor, so it is easy to see how each member contributes. Other art can be solitary, but is always influenced by other artists and other forms of art. Thanks for your kind words too.

      I did have a look and it is similar in thought to a post I did earlier too,, then the follow up, My questioning on the subject in those posts was somewhat opposite than her take though. Her post was more along the lines of my post on generalities today where it is OK, yet even further, inevitable to borrow.

      In my previous posts, I was noting specifically to blogging how rehashing a subject repeatedly is tiresome. In comments I noted copying too. That is a touchy issue because with posts a click away, you never know what is literally copied and what is mirrored by accident. I have seen images on other people’s blog exactly done as I have done them technique and subject wise. Hopefully I inspired. She mentioned that too. She was very PC in in her post, always looking to the positive. But that is not always the case, especially in blogging which has a component of competition for viewers. I believe many ideas are gotten by looking through the posts of others. Good? Bad? Indifferent? It does not matter. It is how fresh the subject is presented or who is presenting it in an authoritative manner. There is so much misinformation on the net and that is another issue entirely.

  7. Why do I get a sudden flashback to a presentation I gave for some Customer Service team leaders about Systems Theory in connection with employee development and change communication, I wonder… Creativity, learning, adapting; it’s all the same, at the base of it, and the same processes are in play whether we set off to create something just for ourselves – like our gardens – or whether we aim to live up to some targets set by others (but in our own individual way, based on our own strengths and experiences so as to create a cohesive experience to ourselves according to our own inner logic).

  8. This is precisely why one can be admired even after the “borrowing” principle. It’s because not everyone can process knowledge into something. Others just ignore. Others just keep it. Others don’t even accept it.

  9. When my kids were in preschool, the parents (or grandparents) had to take turns helping out in class. One day the two- and three-year-olds made jack-lanterns: crushed newspaper in a paper lunch bag, then painted faces on the bags. They were all different. But as I helped prepare the snacks, I noticed the grandma who was helping that day in the back of the room “fixing” all the projects. Now they all had nice neat triangles for eyes and smiling mouths. Sigh.

    See this TED talk by Seth Godin on modern schooling and see why it might be more difficult than it needs to be for us to be creative.

    (I can’t wait for you to start selling your photos!)

    • Nice story Connie on the kids. Kids are so freshly creative and as adults we try to mold them into our own version of what we want and believe they should become. I love TED talks and Seth Godin. Do you follow his blog? He really is an original thinker.

      My post on Beauty has one of the best TED talk videos I ever saw. It is coming up next.

  10. Some interesting thoughts and comments. I love how you tied in your photos to your text. The webs with water droplets are spectacular. There was reference about children and their creativity in your post and subsequent comments. I do want to comment on this aspect of creativity because it is close to my heart. Kids are naturally curious and very creative however, I think their opportunities to show their uniqueness and artistic side is becoming less frequent. Due to cuts in funding, schools are cutting their art & music programs (my children get art and music instruction a mere twice a month). The rigorous testing and focus on test results in certain subject areas leaves little opportunity for creativity and hands on learning in schools. It is sad because creativity, ability to think outside the box, individual expression is what makes society a better place to live and how we grow and separate ourselves from others. I am concerned for the generations to come with the lack of creative outlets and encouragement. We provide our children with creative opportunities at home but there are many children who don’t have the support for this at home. Sorry, I have gotten off topic here a little.

    • Karin, you are very much on topic. See the TED video that Connie posted in the comments. Seth is talking about how education plays a negative part in creative development. How kids learn in school to stay obedient, and subsequently, how this plays a contradictory role in creative development. It also explores how adults have negatively been affected by this which translate into their careers. “The rigorous testing and focus on test results in certain subject areas leaves little opportunity for creativity and hands on learning in schools.” was directly addressed.

      I am an ardent follower of TED talks. The best minds come together and explore. Thanks for your input. It really expands on the post premise. I too feel that reduced funding will affect the way kids learn and create. Especially in music, which is so tied to math of left brain thinking, and music and artistic endeavor, right brain thinking. Now the schools are cutting athletics. That is another road to creative thinking because it releases endorphins and the ‘happy feeling’ makes for good creating. Soon kids will be nothing but little robots that can’t think beyond the pumped in information.

      • I didn’t watch the video but I will go back and watch it. I have watched TED videos before and they are all very informative and thought provoking! My elementary school children get a whopping 15 minutes recess a day (if it is not too hot, cold or wet), they get P.E. instruction every other day. Not only is physically exercise important for releasing endorphins as you mentioned but it is also necessary for children to let off steam (not to mentioned to increase in overweight children-not only a food issue but a lack of exercise issue). They are expected to sit in classrooms for 6 hours and behave themselves and focus. We adults don’t even do that most of the time. Personally, I find the focus in the public school system going in the wrong direction.

        • I do not envy your job of management, let alone teaching hyped up children. I agree, maybe not all things change for the better.

          Did the ancient Greek not look at growth and well being as addressing the body as a whole (men mostly though)? Education was paramount as was physical strength and prowess. It focused on the entire individual by educating the mind, body, intellect, and imagination. They revered the arts and science. When did we lose with that philosophy? At least woman made advancement over this time in history, or I would never have been an architect.

  11. Thank you!! This is exactly what I needed to start off my Friday!!

  12. HolleyGarden says:

    You are so right that we take other’s ideas and then make them our own. I’ve noticed that many times there seems to be, at the same time, two movies that will come out using the same theme, but they will each have different actors, different dialogues, different outcomes, and a different target audience. Thus, two different movies. Yet, the story line that started them both are the same. It’s the small differences that make each one unique, just as with any artist’s creation.

    • I think that decision is based on marketing and demographics. The industry tells us what we should enjoy by trending and over-saturation of certain genres. You see it more in TV shows. The dumbing down of our culture is my take on it.

  13. Karen says:

    Phenomenal, as always, Donna.

  14. This is a wonderful post that echoes many of my thoughts about creativity. I have been creative all of my life, but there have been times when I have had to channel it into other areas to focus on the more practical. It seeps, squeezes, oozes out no matter how much I put it on the back burner. I often wonder where it comes from and why it seems more important to some than others. I enjoy seeing how several people creatively interpret the same thing. It almost seems magical.

    • Very nice addition of thought to the comments. You said it rather poetically, so it must be oozing out. 😀
      You are very right too on how it means more to some than others. That always makes me wonder too. Having various individuals interpret an idea works great sometimes, but goes horribly wrong other times, especially when a project is goal directed. Too many cooks in the kitchen to speak. Plus sometimes having the same occur can border on boring. It can suppress creativity if people just reuse the same premise, especially if privy to the work of others. They just look to what others have done.

  15. Loving your photos – thanks for sharing! Happy Weekend:)

  16. thequeenofseaford says:

    Donna, you always have such thought provoking posts. Love your photos as always. Raindrops just sparkle. Find the magic, perfect!

  17. The best part of creativity for me is when an idea is sparked either by nature or a picture, a quote a post…and then I spin it much like those gorgeous webs. My latest post has some similar images to yours about a completely different topic. I still wish you were doing W4W especially during the late fall and winter months…now that was some of my most creative work!

    • You probably noticed my last couple of posts had quotes influence the content of the post. I find them a jumping off point. You ‘got’ my web reference. Sometimes I think I am too cryptic. I also looked at rain as a recycled resource. W4W was fun. I enjoyed it but thought it was too ambitious for most bloggers. I think those that participated wrote some of the most inspiring and creative posts, you especially.

  18. Incredible raindrops on spiders webs and the reflections of colour in each drop – astounding photography again, Donna. I hope you are feeling well?

    • Thanks Emma. I am feeling better but still not 100%. I have still not been past my backdoor with the camera yet, and only once so far too. Hence the snow photos in What is Beauty and rain images from this post. I cannot completely shake the pneumonia yet. You know how antibiotics make you kinda falsely feel better until you actually are? I did not start taking the medicine as soon as I should have (I have this thing about overuse and always try to get better without it), but have been good about really taking it easy and finishing off the prescription.

  19. Donna, don’t know if you’ve ever seen my “Art from Recyclables”:
    My favorite is “Two Bulls,” made from brackets intended to fasten miniblinds to the windowsil and a weighted lamp base..

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