Friday, February 11, 2011

The Creative Process

I watched a TED lecture on nurturing creativity.  The speaker is Elizabeth Gilbert, author of "Eat Pray Love."  I've never read the book or seen the movie, so I can't speak for her writing.  In the lecture she proposes that we adopt the Greek point of view on creativity: that it comes from outside of the person, from some unknown place.  She brings up good points about how creativity sometimes seems to be out of our control, great ideas coming to us at inopportune moments and then leaving before we get a chance to capture them.  She says that embracing the idea that our creativity is not entirely up to us eases some of the burden or pressures that come along with living an artistic life.  If we do something great, it keeps us from being too narcissistic, and if what we create flops, we can't be entirely to blame, all because there is some fairy-like something gracing us with ideas and inspiration.

While some of her points were of course valid, I disagree that there is a fairy whispering ideas into our heads.  Not only because that is, of course, silly, but because I see another explanation for the mystery that is creativity.  We are all, in a sense, two creatures in one because of our brains.  Our brains are distinctly divided into two halves.  Literally, if you were to take a brain out of someone's skull, the two halves are already completely separate, barely attached by a thick band of nerve fibers (the corpus callosum) which sends messages back and forth between the hemispheres.  When I teach drawing, a lot of what I practice and preach can be found in "Drawing from the Right Side of the Brain" by Betty Edwards.  I have always been able to draw.  It came naturally to me to draw from the right side of the brain.  Of course, many years of practice and hard work are needed as well.  I have discovered, with the help of teaching and reading this book, that what came naturally to me can be taught and learned by people who claim they can't even draw a stick figure.

I've digressed.  Anyway, my point is, I think ideas and creativity come from the right side of our brain.  I can't explain why it's so difficult to access the creativity because I, too, struggle.  I can put myself in the right side of my brain in order to draw what is right in front of me quite easily.  Great ideas about a meaningful piece of art, however, do not come as easily.  I've heard people say they'll go decades without creativity gracing them with its presence.  I will go months without a good idea, and a busy schedule seems to keep the creativity fairies (of the right brain, that is) away.  So if anyone has any thoughts on this, I would love to hear them.  If anyone has any suggestions on how to access those genius ideas more often, please share.

Enough blah-blah-blahing, I know you just came here for pretty pictures.

This is from the 4-hour Saturday Figure Drawing Workshop I taught at Studio B.  I talked about the skeleton and asked the students to see the skeleton under the model when drawing their gestures.  Here's mine - 1 minute each.

From TEK Records at the Dustin and the Furniture Show.  This is Chesley and Jef playing as The Jerry Riddle.

From Figure Drawing at CityArts Cooperative.  6 minute drawings in pen.

10-15 minute drawing in pen.

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