The Mystery of Creativity

Saturday 27 December 2014

That Elusive State

At this time of year, when the nights are long and my work obligations are less, I am able to spend more time in my painting studio. In theory, this should mean that I'm enjoying full creative flow, churning out the work, but alas, this is not always the case. There are good days, and less good days, and even some very bad days. I heard the author Elizabeth Gilbert describe creative work as similar to trudging around an enormous airport: we walk and walk, lugging our baggage through endless hallways, and every now and then we encounter one of those automatic walkways and for a few magical moments we are swept along, light-footed, dazzled, only to step off again as it inevitably ends, and hit the hard ground for more trudging. Sometimes I wonder if that weightless feeling isn't the real prize of creative work, more than any finished product.

Start making something, anything

My own experience got me thinking about our expectations of creative response in our students: Can we really expect these poor students, with 6 different subjects to keep up with, exams, papers, (not to mention being a teenager and all that come with it) to enter  the magical art studio and drop into the elusive creative flow state in a 50 minute period? Unlikely, so what to do? The good news is that you don't need to be in a flow state to make art work, you just need to start making stuff and you access creativity much more easily. The way in is through doing, by showing up. First you have to be in the airport, then you just start walking, start drawing, start shaping a hunk of clay, start rearranging some shoes ( as Fischli and Weiss did below) and the brain will find it's own way to creativity.

Fischli and Weiss

For your downtime listening pleasure...

There's been a lot of non assisted walkways in my airport lately so I put my headphones on and listened to some ted radio hour talks on creativity while I plod along. I thought I would share some of my favorites with you here. Enjoy listening!

Talk by Elizabeth Gilbert Where does creativity come from?

Writer Elizabeth Gilbert examines the myth of artists as super heros and proposes the idea that all of us have a "genius" in us. Its about hard work and not giving up.

Talk by Charles Limb What does a creative brain look like?

Researcher Charles Limb looks at the brains of improvising musicians and what happens when they are really in the groove.

Ken Robinson's famous talk How do schools kills creativity?

many of you will already be familiar with this seminal 2006 talk that challenges schools to rethink how we educate children and urges educators (and administrators!) to recognize the importance of creativity in the curriculum.

Poet Billy Collins talk When does creativity start and end?

Poet laureate Billy Collins talks about where poetry comes from, with humor and insight in this 12 minute talk


Tags: poetry, creativity, process, flow, ted radio, psychology, brain,


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