Engage creativity by thinking about thinking

creativity soul's expression trust Sep 28, 2022
drawing of a brain with numbers on the left side and bright colors on the right side

Wandering through an art museum last week, I was in awe and felt grateful for the messages I absorbed through the artwork.  Some artists are able to convey ideas through their work that deeply resonate with my spirit. 

Do you feel it too?

How do they DO that??  How do they draw a direct line from their heart to the canvas?  Where do they come up with their ideas?

I get how hard it can be to live as an artist.  Successful ones:

  • Devote a lifetime to skill-building. 
  • Practice the discipline of being present with the muse on a regular basis. 
  • Access a deeper level of courage.  It’s scary to bare their soul’s expression as a potential target for criticism. 

When we play small, or we don’t practice, or we don’t give ourselves time, and especially if we aren’t brave - the world doesn’t see our art in full expression.

But artists overcome all of that to make great art.  The line from the heart to the canvas is strengthened through consistently showing up.

To engage their creativity, though, artists naturally access a different way of thinking.  Everyone has access to this, it’s our natural creativity.

How we think

Remember the right brain/left brain theory?  The left brain is linear and logical, and the right brain is about connection and feelings. 

New advances in imaging have debunked that idea; our brains are not wired that way.  But we do have different approaches in how we think.  They look like this:

Convergent thinking

This is the style of thinking that has been rewarded through the centuries.  It’s also known as linear thinking or critical analysis and is the basis for the identity of the left brain. 

Here, we gather facts to find one answer.  The idea is in the center, and we gather facts that eventually point to one answer.

When there is a problem to solve, we think strategically to narrow down the options to One Correct Answer.  Imagine a rope with knots tied at intervals.  We move from one thought to the next thought until we come to a final conclusion.

But there is another way to think.

Divergent Thinking

I spoke to an artist last week who is slowly going blind.  Her peripheral vision is degenerating; she’s legally blind from that loss although she still has vision enough to function.

As an artist, she had a problem.  How do you continue to make art when you can’t see?  How could she still express through her work the hope she feels when she’s making art?

Linear logic eliminates options and will not yield a creative answer.  She approached the problem through divergent thinking.

Through experimentation with different media, she finally embraced pottery.  Just working with the clay was therapeutic, allowing her body to squeeze and shape her ideas. 

And, to convey her hopeful feelings, her pots have messages embedded into the outside of the vessels - written in braille.  The clay carries the message from her hands to the hearts of the receiver. 

When we use divergent thinking, the question is at the center and we generate unusual or unconventional solutions through provocative techniques. 

We challenge our attention, then work backward to a solution. 

Humor is an excellent example of how we use divergent thinking in our lives.  A joke is always understood in reverse. 

This kind of thinking can be taught.  You can learn to think divergently and generate new choices.  It’s how we stimulate creativity!

I’m learning new techniques every day and will be sharing them with you through this blog and through the classes I teach.

Stay tuned…

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