Stop planning and start playing!

Mixed-media artist Hanoch Piven (above) is best known for his caricatures of well-known people using everyday objects, such as those of US President Donald Trump and Mr Trump's predecessor, Mr Barack Obama.
Mixed-media artist Hanoch Piven (above) is best known for his caricatures of well-known people using everyday objects, such as those of US President Donald Trump and Mr Trump's predecessor, Mr Barack Obama.PHOTO: COURTESY OF HANOCH PIVEN
Mixed-media artist Hanoch Piven is best known for his caricatures of well-known people using everyday objects, such as those of US President Donald Trump (above) and Mr Trump's predecessor, Mr Barack Obama.
Mixed-media artist Hanoch Piven is best known for his caricatures of well-known people using everyday objects, such as those of US President Donald Trump (above) and Mr Trump's predecessor, Mr Barack Obama.PHOTO: COURTESY OF HANOCH PIVEN
Mixed-media artist Hanoch Piven is best known for his caricatures of well-known people using everyday objects, such as those of US President Donald Trump and Mr Trump's predecessor, Mr Barack Obama (above).
Mixed-media artist Hanoch Piven is best known for his caricatures of well-known people using everyday objects, such as those of US President Donald Trump and Mr Trump's predecessor, Mr Barack Obama (above).PHOTO: COURTESY OF HANOCH PIVEN

The 20th edition of Singapore Writers Festival kicked off last Friday and will run till this Sunday. The Straits Times speaks to two SWF speakers - artist Hanoch Piven and children's author Leila Boukarim - who will be sharing tips on creativity and nurturing sensitive kids. Mistakes and failures in play and art prepare us for the real world, says artist

Well-known Israeli mixed-media artist Hanoch Piven has won acclaim for his witty 3D caricatures of famous personalities - from United States President Donald Trump to Austrian neurologist Sigmund Freud.

The Uruguay-born artist's illustrations have appeared in magazines like Time and Rolling Stone, and he has chalked up a number of awards, including a Gold Medal from the Society of Illustrators of New York in 1994.

But it was actually his "lack of technical ability to draw and paint realistically as (he had) wanted" that had led Mr Piven, 54, to explore this medium as a way of communicating.

While he was in art school in 1990, a box of matches fell on a portrait of Saddam Hussein that he had been working on, which gave him the idea to use the matches as a moustache. That serendipitous encounter led to his trademark method of using everyday objects instead of paints or pencil sketches to make his portraits come alive.

In the same vein, he tries to demonstrate how being faced with obstacles and disruption in the creation process can be powerful in his workshops on creativity with students and parents. He believes that new ideas can emerge only "when we allow ourselves not to use a pre-established solution".

Exploring, failing and venturing into the unknown is one way of stumbling upon a new solution that would have been otherwise missed, said Mr Piven, a father of two children aged 18 and 24.

"Of course this is very, very scary. Nobody likes to fail. So here's where play can be helpful. Play allows us to be in that process without paying a heavy price for all these mistakes and failures."

There are simple ways for parents to incorporate this into their everyday life, he said. "Changing routines is very important. Take a new path to school. Leave at a different time. Do the opposite of what you are used to. Make it a playful exercise."

He added: "The more we enter new roads, the more we will encounter new coincidences."

Singaporeans tend to be conscientious planners, but Mr Piven said that parents and educators should try to shed "the need to plan before doing something", a common habit, to encourage a spirit of creativity and discovery. It is through doing things that one can learn how to solve problems, and identify solutions that work.

"If there is one place in which you can take risks, it is in play and in art! If we fail there, nobody will be really hurt. So I believe that play and art prepare us for the real world. They give us experiences and abilities which we can then go and apply in the real world."


HANOCH PIVEN AT SWF

Make A Fun Family Portrait

DATE: Saturday 4:30pm-6pm

VENUE: Tent@Empress, in front of Victoria Theatre

Encouraging Creativity In Children

DATE: Sunday 2pm-3pm

VENUE: The Arts House, Gallery II

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 06, 2017, with the headline 'Stop planning and start playing!'. Print Edition | Subscribe