How Creativity Affected Me – the Formative Years.

original illustration (1865) by John Tenniel (...

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A musician must make music, an artist must paint, a poet must write, if he is to be ultimately at peace with himself. What one can be, one must be.  ~
Abraham Maslow

When I was a young girl, before adult responsibilities were a thought in my head, I remember that my favorite times involved having my nose buried deep in a book, when I was drawing and when I listened to (or played) music.  My family moved a lot and though I was adept at making friends, I was often “the new kid” and at times, considered somewhat of an outsider.   Through all the life changes, my constant companions were the adventures to be found in my own creative endevours or through the creativity of others.

Though I don’t remember it myself, my father told me about my first drawing.  He said I was eighteen months old when I decided to draw a picture of a boat.  The way he described it, though the lines didn’t all connect, you could tell it was a boat, and not just any old boat – but specifically the one I was looking at!  I would have loved to have seen it, but it was lost the last time he moved.  He told me that of all his moving during his 20 years in the Air Force, that was the one possession he was most upset about being lost or damaged.

Dad and I "cutting a rug" when I was five. (Actually, I was on dads feet, HE was dancing). Spokane, WA, 1973

One of my earliest personal memories was when I received my first turntable at the age of five.  I can clearly my first albums – a 45 RPM of Michael Jackson’s “Rockin’ Robin” (with B side “Ben”) and the first Sesame Street album, where I learned a song about how to mix colors (“Red and yellow make o-range, yellow and blue make green.  Blue and red make purple … fit for royal queen”.)  I’ve been a music junkie ever since!

My next clear memory of being affected by creativity was getting lost in Lewis Carroll’s crazily creative world of Alice in Wonderland.  One of my favorite pictures is of me laying on the couch in Berlin* base housing, blue dress hiked up and nose buried in the book, totally absorbed in the tale while my mom snapped the picture.  I used to get lost in books for hours, devouring fiction and non-fiction alike.

At about the same time I received a book with blank pages, both lined and plain – a blank canvas to fill with whatever my young heart desired.  I remember studiously working away, writing poetry and prose and illustrating my stories with crayon and pencil drawings.  I remember it seeming to be a lot of work and having to really “buckle down” to finish that book.  Of course, it probably took about three or four hours total, but for an eight year old, that is a serious commitment!  I was very proud of it when I was finished.

The next Christmas, I was given a plastic saxophone to play.  I don’t remember using it

Bob Shiavinato was the first artist I ever remember meeting. He was a friend of my family in Berlin.

when it was whole … the part that sticks in my memory is that I loved it so much, I tried to play it even after the mouth piece had broken off.  Something happened that a small piece of plastic then broke off in between my two front teeth … a tiny sliver that felt like a boulder wedged in there.  That was the end of the plastic saxophone, but not of my love for music!

I had the opportunity to observe artisans hand-crafting items throughout my time in Germany.  I was fascinated by the process of creating Hummels and Gobels when touring the factory.  I remember watching carvers creating wooden Madonnas through shop windows, and absorbing information on  how leaded crystal was made.   Though I didn’t realize it then, those exposures created an indelible inprint of the importance of pride in craftsmanship that still lives with me today.

Though my hours of reading have been reduced to minutes, and playing instruments is not as consistent as it was in my teen years, my early exposure to the two plays a part in my art today.  Recorded music has an important part in my painting process.  When preparing to paint, I either put a selection of CDs in the shelf-unit stereo or upload a playlist onto my iPod.  My musical selections influences the outcome of the piece.  Reading provides possible topics or influences for artworks, and both music and books provide great fodder for titles.  The early exposure to pride in craftsmanship has served me well in creating archival artworks that should last for generations, providing my collectors with as sound an investment as any artwork can be.

Even working on a puzzle together promotes creative problem solving. My dad, brother Keith and I in Berlin, around 1975.

Consistent exposure to the creativity of others and the opportunity to make art and music for myself as a child made a big difference in who I am as a person and an artist today.  If you are a parent, family member or family friend, why not expose a child to some artistic culture and encourage them to take on a creative project today?  It will help make that child a more well-rounded person, and could lead them to following their creative path as an adult as well.  You don’t have to be an expert – even doing the most primitive drawings alongside a child can encourage them to do it themselves, and allow them to understand that you don’t have to be perfect to enjoy your creativity.  You can make a huge difference with small acts of artfulness.

© Amy Buchheit 2011 All Rights Reserved


About Amy Buchheit

I am a Signature Member of the International Society of Acrylic Painters and an Ambassador for Artist Trust. I earned my Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Marylhurst University and have exhibited on regional, national and international levels since 2000. I am committed to connecting with the viewer through my work - stirring buried emotions to the surface for further inspection and introspection. The inspiration for my art comes from direct observations, research of subjects I am passionate about and personal experiences. For more information about my art, workshops and exhibitions, visit my website at My blog "Fantastic Voyage" can be found at, and I can be found on Facebook under Amy Buchheit Art and on Twitter as @AmyBuchheit.
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3 Responses to How Creativity Affected Me – the Formative Years.

  1. Patrick Ross says:

    What a great post, thank you for sharing your story (and some family photos!). This spoke to me:

    Consistent exposure to the creativity of others and the opportunity to make art and music for myself as a child made a big difference in who I am as a person and an artist today.

    As you know, I’ve tried to do that for my kids. It’s costing me, though, because my daughter’s so focused on visual art I just shelled out a pretty big 4 figures for her to spend 3 weeks at a pre-college art program this summer! Happy for her, not happy for my bank account.

  2. Amy Buchheit says:

    Thanks, Patrick! I appreciate the positive feedback, as always! 🙂

    Wow, that is so great that you are a “yes” to your daughter, even when you aren’t sure how you are going to make it happen. Of course, there are times when that is a good move and times when perhaps you can’t say yes to *everything* … but being a “yes” in general is AWESOME. It will really make a difference for her even if she doesn’t pursue it professionally.

    It doesn’t take forking out a lot of cash, so you know … even supporting her with a “yes you can” attitude and art supplies (expensive enough, yikes!), and pointing her toward art classes in school (provided they have them) is a good thing. My only formal art training was one drawing class in junior high and several classes my sophomore and junior year of high school before earning my BFA many moons later … and I think I turned out o.k. 😉 Of course, anything you can do beyond that is gravy!

    Thank you for popping by for a read, I appreciate the support! 🙂

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