Sunday, March 25, 2012

Food for Thought

I missed this months meeting of my art quilt group because of this,

and this....

At the meeting, my friend Pam shared an article from the Wall Street Journal about creativity which I think is an important read.  Here's the link  ttp://

The author, Jonah Lehrer talks about the many ways we all work through problem solving, including ignoring the problem, or not paying attention to it. "In the seconds before the insight appears, a brain area called the superior anterior temporal gyrus (aSTG) exhibits a sharp spike in activity. This region, located on the surface of the right hemisphere, excels at drawing together distantly related information, which is precisely what's needed when working on a hard creative problem." So, when I leave that piece of crap work in progress on the wall, and instead watch tv, read, or do some hand sewing, I'm letting go of the focus and letting my brain relax into another activity, and all the while some little spikes are taking place and I'm figuring it out. This happens to me a lot, and Lehrer calls it "the surprising advantage to not paying attention".

Lehrer, of course, points out that waiting around for spikes is not always the best way to use your time. "There is nothing fun about this kind of creativity, which consists mostly of sweat and failure. It's the red pen on the page and the discarded sketch, the trashed prototype and the failed first draft. Nietzsche referred to this as the 'rejecting process,' noting that while creators like to brag about their big epiphanies, their everyday reality was much less romantic.
'All great artists and thinkers are great workers,' he wrote." I think this is so true for me, because whenever I become complacent, thinking I will just throw something up and it will be wonderful, that I've got it all worked out in my brain, I'm disappointed. I have to go back and focus on the basics, on line, shape, color, etc.

According to Mr. Lehrer, one of the biggest boosts to creativity is to learn a new skill, try something unfamiliar, diversify your interests. "That's why it's important not just to bring new ideas back to your own field, but to actually try to solve problems in other fields - where your status as an outsider, and ability to ask naive questions, can be a tremendous advantage." This is where I tell you that I'm taking up a new passion, but I'm not. I will think about it though.


Gerrie said...

I loved that article. It really spoke to me and what I went through last year. And how about those girls - oh my great goodness. Still waiting for mine. She is having contractions as I write, but it is a first baby so may still be a while.

Françoise said...

This is a very good excuse for missing your group meeting. They're very cute.
Hum, I should go read this article now, ;-)

Diane Perin Hock said...

Fascinating article! Thanks for sharing it. I'm big on the "doing something else" strategy but I guess that's why I have such a vast array of unfinished projects!

As for doing something else, I highly recommend singing! I've told you about my adventures joining a local community chorus and it is SUCH a stretch for me, but such fun too.

And of COURSE you missed your meeting -- you had a much more important group to attend. Such cute babies!!

Kristin L said...

Love that armload of babies! Robert Genn recently wrote about leaving something alone until the muse arrives. he called it something like strategic procrastination. It's that whole great ideas come in the shower thing. I do it all the time -- but perhaps too much -- as the WSJ article noted, it's not the most productive use of time. ;-)