Although I have always found great enjoyment through the creative arts, there have been time points when I have not availed of the practises to the same extent. Reflecting back on these adolescence years highlighted this in particular. At this time point, the educational experience was completely separated, and you had to choose a path in the arts or science. This is a great oversight in formal educational training. With the shift to the science stream, I had to say goodbye to the creative arts. When I did complete a new work though, it was much more detailed and ‘proficient’ in comparison to the previous stages.
The milestones at this point for me revolved around long-term plans for education and moving away from my small rural community of 500. This seemed very daunting and I received tremendous support from my aunt who still remained a mentor for me in the creative arts. Although there was no formal training, we continued our creativity afterschool. We recreated the world around us together including the birds we witnessed in the garden. I have recreated several for this week’s creative practise as I reminisce about our time together. This was a great informal coping strategy, one that helped me cope with the transitions at this stage.
Graduation from high-school was the big milestone, and I really enjoyed participating even in the planning and decorating for the event. My aunt attended this, along with my immediate family. The role she had in my development and enjoyment in the creative arts cannot be overstated. The visual arts were the main modality used at this age range for me, though at a much lower amount than the previous age groups. Reflecting back I can see how the creative arts were incorporated into my day to day life in other means. One of my favorite pastimes with my family became going to art galleries and seeing creative works at local farmers markets. This was something that we did together and as frequently as possible.
A number of really close friends also unexpectedly died during this stage. Their loss had a dramatic impact on me. It became important to recognize and support their memory as they had a huge impact on my own personal development. Raising funds to commemorate their lives was something that was started at this time-point, and I am very fortunate to have seen this come to fruition. During this week we have been discussing how important the peer support system can be to the development of an individual, and this is something that I can attest first hand (Siegel, 2014).
The creative arts became much more integrated at this stage while I completed a degree in biology. It was an interesting mix of science and the arts as I spent hours drawing cells, plants and anatomical structures found in the science labs. It seemed far less like work, and more like my favorite pastime. There was a definite structure to these sessions though, which did not leave room for creativity. You were forced to draw exactly what was seen, as accurately as possible without embellishments. This lead to a rebellion amongst my friends. We would meet after our science labs and use the messiest paints possible to create a chaotic picture. This week I recreated this by using watercolors to develop my own pictures. The watercolors don’t allow for the same level of control as can be obtained with other mediums.
Attending university was the big milestone at this age, and my friends became the biggest mentors for my creative expression. It was really fun developing a new piece of artwork together, with everyone contributing to the process. The involvement in the creative arts dramatically increased at this stage, and was in fact more than previously utilized. Being located in a university town, there were always cultural events happening such as museum and gallery exhibits that only fed the creative process further. The ecological model of development certainly applies to this stage, as the spheres I was exposed to increased dramatically, shaping my creative and personal development (Bronfenbrenner, 1994).
The fear of what was yet to come though always seemed to be just around the corner. Would we remain together, find jobs, have to move? This unknown was always present, but an expected part of any transition from one stage to another. Even to this day, these individuals remain my best friends and we often FaceTime as we are opposite side of the country to complete creative processes together!
It has been interesting to reflect back on the creative arts throughout these time frames, and it seems that the importance to my own development, and the amount I participate just increases with time!