Thursday, April 25, 2013

Imagination, Inspiration, and Creative Blocks Part 2

“Inspiration is for amateurs. The rest of us just show up and get to work. If you wait around for the clouds to part and a bolt of lightening to strike you in the brain, you are not going to make an awful lot of work. All the best ideas come out of the process; they come out of the work itself.”

    Now while I do really appreciate the work that Chuck Close does, but I have to partially disagree with his quote. He is correct that you shouldn’t wait around for inspiration to spontaneously happen, but inspiration is a part of most art forms whether it be visual, musical, literary or even culinary because it is a part of the process. Inspiration is a process within the process of creating art and it is achieved through different methods of exploration.

    Like in my last art blog article I am going to talk about various methods of how to gain inspiration, to flex you imagination or to unclog a creative blog. If you are interested in the prior methods I talked about you can find them here imagination-inspiration-and-creative part 1

Stop Thinking!

    Thinking is overrated when you are trying to achieve something creative. Cognitive thought is only required for helping to solve problems you have not encountered in the past and it takes a lot of energy out of your system in the form of lowered glucose levels. By the time you are done “thinking” about what to do, your energy levels become lowered to the point where you loose the drive and ambition you had when you started the process. If you started the creative process by trying to solve too big of a problem you will find yourself trying to solve and almost impossible problem. Let go, start small, and draw upon what you already know and if that is not enough then go out and experience something new!

Visualize It!

    This technique is similar to daydreaming but is more controlled.  Michelangelo said, “ every block of stone has a statue inside it and it is the task of the sculptor to discover it” and all that we have to do is remove the excess stone. Michelangelo could see the statue in the stone before he sculpted his famous David statue. When you visualize what you want to achieve you are creating an actual long term memory. For years I have often did this naturally and when it occurred it was like I predicted the future. Then when you apply this visualization to other standard processes it is easier to achieve, with less work and greater success. However, visualization is not a short cut for prep work and when creating David, Michelangelo created many mock statues on a smaller scale after visualizing it to help with his process. By visualizing what you want to achieve and to put it into your long term memory you use less of your upper cognitive resources, so start picturing what you want to achieve before you begin work.

Play, Don’t Work!
    There is a big difference between work and play but both can be a productive or unproductive activity. Imagine back when you were a kid on the beach or in a sandbox and you started to build a sand castle or something similar. In its construction, you were in all probability very industrious in its creation but was it labor or play? I would argue, at the time of creation, that sand castle just felt like playing around despite the fact you put so much effort into it. When we play, while we might expend a lot of energy, we often don’t feel to tired even after play, but when we “work”, at a job that you may not like, you use up to many of your resources and become exhausted. When we play or minds are open and pliable but when we “work” our minds become closed and we rely to much on our cognitive minds if we are not use to that work. So, if you find that your current process has become to much of a chore it is a good idea to try and find a way to make it feel fun and a good way to do this is to make it like or similar to a game. If you are not having fun or you don’t even get satisfaction from what you are doing then that task is not really worth doing over and over again, there is no point.

Now of course, I don’t claim to know all there is to know about being creative, but I do try to communicate what I do know on to others. I am also very interested in knowing what you all thinking about being creative and would love to hear from you all.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Imagination, Inspiration, and Creative Blocks Part 1

An artist’s greatest tool is having a strong imagination, but it is like a muscle and if it does not get regular exercise then it can atrophy. However, not everyone know’s how to get inspired and even the best creative minds get creative blocks. So I am going to share some of my tips of when I need inspiration or when  I get a block that needs unclogging.

Get Distracted and Letting Go

Creative blocks are often due to the trap of holding onto an idea like an mistreated pit bull. You have convinced yourself that your initial idea is the only possible avenue and thus you have created a sort of tunnel vision keeping you from seeing other possibilities. When this happens, the best suggestion I can make is to walk away from what you are doing and get your mind off the subject. Until you can let go of your initial idea you won’t be able to come up with new ones. A good way to get distracted is to go take a walk or go ride a bicycle. Albert Einstein, a champion of imagination, often stated to go on a bicycle ride to remove blocks. However, getting chores or errands out of the way also helps remove the tunnel vision. Lastly anything that lets you relax and take your mind off things allow you to approach a problem with fresh eyes.


“Bobby, stop daydreaming and pay attention!”

The Scientifically Proven Benefits of Daydreaming
Sadly our society today has often frowned on the daydreamers, because it doesn’t seem to be evidently productive. However, I disagree and I willing to bet that most creative minds out in the world today will agree with me that it can be one of the more productive initial methods in creative work. Daydreaming is an excellent method in exploring new ideas, because when we daydream it is our own private world where we can shed our hangups, where we are not judged for looking foolish and we can mentally play in any shape or form. Daydreaming, is the ultimate form of brainstorming because it is like writing a movie script that we can quickly rewind, fast forward and edit as we go along. Lastly daydreaming starts off small with a simple idea and it lets you evolve it into a more complex idea that seems more natural and intuitive.

Take the Risk!
The whole attitude that “it will never work” is a bad block to brainstorming.  When brainstorming ideas it is generally a good idea not to automatically discount what you may deem to be an bad or unpopular idea. It is better to lay that idea out there whether it be a fast sketch or a short little line. Even if the idea might not be sound, the idea still may provide a path to a new idea. Also, never be afraid to do something because it has or has not been done before. If it hasn’t been done before then odds are you will grab some kind of audience and if it has been done before then you might be able to put a new spin on it. Desi Arnaz, also known as Ricky Ricardo from the “I Love Lucy Show” was famous for taking risks that no one was willing to try merely because it had never been done before and made it a success.

Make a List of Nouns!

One of my favorite authors, Ray Bradbury, once said that he likes to make a list of nouns for inspiration of what he wanted to write about; the same could be applied to visual artists as well. The idea behind this strategy is to start small or simple so that you have something to build around. Any idea needs a strong foundation before you can build it into something grand. If one tries to create a complex idea right off the start then odds are the idea will not communicate well. For example, I start with the idea I want to do a painting about friendship, this is the core idea, how can I show that, what are some of the actions that friends do, what kind of moods do I want for this act of friendship, and so on and so on.

Tune in!

A great way to get inspired to do something creative is to be inspired by the works of other creative people. These days we are inundated with a barrage of different forms of mediums that convey the collective of our creative minds. Often, I was inspired by a book, a painting, a song, a TV program, a movie, or even a video game to create something creative or interesting. Now a common reaction to this notion is that, “well you are just copying something you saw”, but this is not necessarily the case. When exposed to these mediums it is easy for one to be inspired by the smallest fragment of what you saw, read or heard. This small fragment may have just been a small interesting detail in the original medium, but was not the original idea. Another possibility is that you were inspired by the original idea, but you start to daydream and play the what if game allowing you to put a new spin on the original idea.  Remember, as long as you change an idea enough and make it your own taking ideas from others is not stealing. Imagination is not an internal force, but rather it is a reflection and multi-faceted projection of our experiences and knowledge. We take in information from the world around us and intuitively re-order it into something new. Something is not created from nothing but simply transformed from what was before.

Imagination can even defeat the Boogieman
Now I don’t ever claim to know all there is to being creative or how to unclog a creative block. I am sure many of you out there have tips & tricks of how to be inspired or to stop creative blocks and I invite you all to contribute. Also please feels free to ask any questions you have and I will do my best to answer them.