Hello and good day! Thank you for reading or listening to episode 2 of my series about art. On Darell Teague’s Creative Mind, we explore are theory and concepts. Let’s get into it right away.
Today we’ll be doing another look into creativity, but specifically discussing a comparison between the 12th century through the 16th century Renaissance versus today’s world from about 1900 to 2019. I also want to examine how we use creativity to problem-solve towards the end. While the podcast and articles are about visual art, I first wanted to give you a wider understanding, I hope, of creativity before I move on to other topics. We will not make this about history, don’t worry!
So, there are a few core elements to the Renaissance that I’d like to focus on that are similar to the elements that we have today, and I think that they are tied to blooming creativity. Those elements are art, print, and economy. Art was inspired by changing mindsets and new abilities. It was printing that led to widespread literature, which led to knowledge becoming more common. I would like to focus on these ideas and that order. We will largely ignore exploration, discovery, and science.
Keep in mind that art is the star of the show. However, do I think there are more things to talk about in this section, and I think it’ll be very fun. There isn’t any chronological order to these aspects of the art during the Renaissance; they are just what I find are the most creative.
Think about the image of the artist, and picture them in your mind. Leonardo da Vinci had a vibrant personality which combined with his work and the increase of the media attention of his day, helped him become hugely famous. He nspired his peers to feel more free with their personalities and their art. The idea of the artist who has a creative mind, quirky or weird, yet doesn’t fit in well with others was all influenced by DaVinci. We still have that same mindset today if you think about it, and we also have an idea of the internet artist like myself. There sometimes are people whose way of doing things change whatever thing they’re doing. Whether that be Warhol, DaVinci, or Ai Ai Wei is up for debate, but these people undoubtedly have great influence on their craft.
Today, we have many artists on the internet and not many are as famous as the greats. So, the artist now is less of a celebrity and more of a gifted person who is appreciated for their talents just like others are celebrated for their amazing athleticism, superb mathematical skills, or way of connecting with people. So, it was this new mindset about the artist from being a crafter to being an inspired, creative person that led to works like self-portraits and an increase in sculptures of the human anatomy.
I refer to DaVinci a lot, but DaVinci was a lot more of an inventor or an engineer than an artist. He used the practice of drawing things to learn. He also dissected bodies and dismantled things to then draw them in great detail. What he did was use art as a cognitive exercise in order to examine the anatomy, the shape, and the structure of each piece of a subject. He probably thought of how each piece fits together, what size they are relative to each other, their relationship to each other, and the relationship of one piece to the whole. So, this idea of using art and drawing for the cognitive and knowledgeable benefits can help creativity and understanding of subjects. It’s not advice for all artists but it is for some who value the idea. However, in my experience, I like to learn about things through a drawing, and I think that is one of the most effective ways for me to learn some things; however, not everything.
I’ve done watercolor paintings with colored pencils of rose flowers, philodendrons, Japanese hitachi flowers, a cactus, and a tomato vine. Those pieces were done by studying each plant in from different angles and drawing it to put it together. After learning the anatomy of each plant, I was able to draw my own and put it in a composition that worked. So, that is how I used the idea of art as a cognitive activity.
Moving on, so you see self-portraits being painted or drawn because more people have access to mirrors. In the Middle Ages, most people only saw themselves in reflections in water from a puddle, lake, or a bucket of water. The self-portrait was an expression of self-worth and self-esteem that included looking inward and being a little selfish. It was the old world’s selfie, if you will. Self-portraits are a great way to look at oneself from an outside perspective. Sometimes the self image comes from the perspective of others, yet it can also be an idealistic perspective of the owner. I would like to clarify that while a self-portrait is looking on the outside for artists; it is often an internal process. For me, it was literally becoming comfortable with my face. I have completed four self-portraits; two are acrylic paintings on canvas the other two are in digital format. You can see that on my social media and I can post up the canvas self-portraits too. Look for them on my Instagram, Facebook page, and Linkedin. I encourage all artists to do a self-portrait and share it with me if you feel so inclined, no pressure!
Artists and creative people during the renaissance wanted to come together in a centralized space, so they started to build locations where they could gather and debate about their ideas; they could develop and work on their craft together. You also see art techniques like perspective and nude sculpture begin to be prominent in many artists’ works at the time. It was with these works that we get our first insights into how to depict 3D images on a 2d surface. I think this phenomenon is nearly the same as the social media locations that we operate in today. They are in themselves a location where millions of us come together to share ideas whether they be creative, political, environmental and so on. These two phenomena are the same. However, we see and interact through a 2D surface, our cell phones, and we see incredible depth on them every single day.
My point is that, as humans, we are largely the same now as we were then. We have just come much further in technology, medicine, and knowledge. No matter when, we had the same wants needs and desires. The same drives for innovation then are similar drives now. Renaissance creators made new portals for them to express their creativity, and so have we. We all have to use them; we all must continue to use them to communicate.
Location leads me to my next point. The beginnings of print, literature, and knowledge in the Renaissance were similar to the rise of today’s Internet. Because of the printing press, people were able to produce books, pamphlets, and fliers. This was the beginning of the production of information at a scale that they could not achieve before. Knowledge was cheaper to make which meant more people had access to information that them smarter when they consumed it. Moreover, I’m sorry to all the old-timers and old school people, but back then, it was the same deal, young people and some in the old community saw the value in print. Much of the culture shifted from preferring oral communication through oral traditions to preferring print. It was the oral knowledge sharing of information that helped crafters and lawmakers grow in the past. The preference became sharing information to print. The shift from oral to print is just like today’s shift from print to digital media.
I made the point about print being cheaper to make than band made text, so more people had access to information that also meant that more people had access to the printing press itself. People could hire printers to create fliers or pamphlets that could be distributed throughout a city or region or even between cities within days to weeks. That same information could be available to many different people. On the other hand, this also became a problem because some people saw an opportunity to spread messages that could be real, fake, true, or false. So it’s a little funny, you see the rise of fake news. It is terrible, and we’re not even going to go into that. But the amount of information that was created during this time was not all good. One had to sift through it and compare ideas versus reality. That is just like today, there’s so much information on the internet that it is hard to take it all in. We have to take knowledge from many different sources and compile them into one solution or conclusion in order to make decisions.
I’ll make this one quick because I know that not everybody is an economy nerd; I’m surely not, but it does interest me. Because of the printing press, people had become more capable to record how much money they had. People were able to use bookkeeping so they can keep track of their flow of currency. Therefore, Merchants, wealthy people, crafters, and more people could track their info and outflow of money. That helped the growth into a more powerful economy because people were smarter with their decisions and invest. Money could flow into certain spaces which is exactly what happened in the Renaissance. Money flowed into the pockets of artists, musicians, and entertainers because of the value of these new ideas in these new movements. Again, I see that today I see a lot of creative people making a living on the internet and using the internet to be smarter with their decision-making and their problem-solving.
So I know I said we’re going to discuss problem-solving creativity. You made it! Thank you for making it this far. I think that a lot of inventions, scientific advancements, and architecture came from solving a problem that the old world, in medieval times or before then, couldn’t solve. There were domes two buildings that could not be built before the Renaissance because they were technicalities that couldn’t be figured out.
You see the same thing in the industrial revolution with architecture; think of skyscrapers and electricity. I think creativity was the driving force behind problem-solving which is what created the world around us. That’s what builds our bridges and created our infrastructure both physically and for the internet. It is still crazy that in 2019, in today’s Renaissance if you will, the infrastructure is changing but not seemingly to the extent of the Renaissance. The internet has made knowledge unfathomably more accessible to more people just like the printing press did for so many back then. That means that people are going to use it and as I mentioned before, we’re not much different now than we were then.
So, as I end this episode we will be continuing on to some more visual art topics. I implore creative people to view creativity as looking forward to the future and being excited for what we can do and what we’re going to do. Because we have the internet that is not that old, we will be talking on it and using it together for a long time to come.
Much obliged for your time and reading! I thank you to those listening to the podcast, to those reading, and to those on YouTube for watching. I would like to converse with anyone about creativity and their experience with it. I also would like to talk about what creative projects you are doing now and what you think you’re going to be doing in the future. Social media links are listed. Talk to me! Bye!
Hello and good day! Here, we explore art theory and concepts. In this chapter, we’ll discuss creativity! Let’s dive right in.
To be frank, creativity is a tough subject to discuss because it has many elements, many different definitions, and many different forms of experience. What I mean by this is that creativity is affected by many things and there are many inputs to create a specific output. Also, many creative people and researchers who study creativity have different definitions of what creativity is. Moreover, every creative person experiences creativity differently because the process they use is different from the next and the output is different from the next. Therefore, the creativity process may be similar and the experience is unique. Examples of this could be artists who have a specific ritual before they create a piece. Some artists have a specific location or vibe in the room that they’re in. Some people can create around others, yet a portion of creators need to create while alone.
Here, I want to discuss what creativity is, where it comes from, and what it means to us as humans. I’m also drawing and painting with creativity in mind at the time of this writing; check it out on my YouTube and Instagram. So, moving on, let’s define creativity in more ways than one and hopefully we’ll come down to a definition that we can agree on for now.
Gunter Abel defines creativity in his article “The Riddle of Creativity: a Philosophy’s View” printed in the Journal of Chinese philosophy. This was written in 2014. This is his definition, I quote directly: “I propose that creativity can be conceived as a phenomenon of [the] emergence [or] a “surprising coming about” with emergence being understood as a given and both the philosophy of the mind and the systematic sciences of complexity such as synergetics self-organization theory and chaos theory”. This means that emergence comes from philosophy regarding how the mind works, why it works the way it does, and where it has been. What he means by the systemic sciences of complexity is that it is very complicated for science to explain creativity which it currently cannot. Gunter also elaborates on emergence by explaining that signs, which can be defined as stimuli from the outside world that inspire creativity, are needed to perceive the exigence needed to create. Exigence is something that is necessary for a particular situation. This means that creativity is necessary in particular situations when the sign is perceived by a creative person. This comes from the idea that creative people have more of an unfiltered flow of stimuli from the outside world that constantly inspires creativity, and in other cases creativity is sporadic; however, the flow is still less filtered that less creative people.
In summary, Gunter Abel gives us ingredients for creativity. We need perception, imagination, signs or external stimuli, and a flow state that can take stimuli and create an output. I also want to clarify what Gunter Abel defined as a creative person. He claims that creative people have particular imagination, problem-solving skills, ability to see the order in chaos, they’re typically the black sheep of a group, and their creativity makes them unique among their peers. I’d like to add that creative people are not merely limited to artists and musicians. Creative people can be within businesses or in construction companies. The point being that creative people can take external signs, use their imagination, and then create an output.
Now, let us explore creativity with other viewpoints. In the 1992 article “The Art of Creativity” D. Goleman and P Kaufman list a few definitions of creativity defined by creative people. Spalding Gray, a writer, describes his process of creativity and what he thinks of creativity. He uses a method that requires him to put ideas written on paper in a box. When the box is full, he creates stories from a random assortment of those ideas and the box is emptied. He also has an idea of the overarching concept in his creative piece. He has concepts like theme and story arc planned well before he is completed. Furthermore, he explains that he needs a public setting to feel truly creative and in his flow state. This is different than other artists because some artists like myself need to be alone and need to be focused to do what I need to do, which is not always art but music or writing or even researching. All of these are creative activities that I do. Benny Golson explains that creativity comes by breaking rules. this is similar to Gunter Abel’s point about breaking the rules of a creative space. However, he emphasizes that creative people don’t merely break the rules; they write new ones and they amend old rules because the rules of a particular medium or creative space are similar to each other. A good example is Andy Worhol’s work. His style wasn’t like traditional art but it still consisted of images that represented something that were put on paper or canvas.
So, we have defined creativity in many ways. I want to come up with one solid definition for the sake of this discussion and perhaps while your further ponderings of creativity.
Creativity is the process using external stimuli, imagination, and knowledge to create an interpretation of the creator and the creator’s surroundings.
I think that’s as simple as I can get it from doing the research that I’ve done and thinking of my creativity. Firstly, I think it’s a process, and I think there are distinct beginning, middle, and an end phases to the creative process. The creation could be a song, sculpture, or a skyscraper. I also think that the creative person needs to use their knowledge to alter the external stimuli so they can project their interpretation into the world for others to see. That interpretation is typically and interpretation of the artist painting a self-portrait or an interpretation of the world around them even in the realm of abstract art and impressionism.
Creative people, as I said before, are dynamic and not limited to just artists and musicians. So, I will focus on what I think the creative person does. A person who is inclined towards creativity often subjects themselves to an unfiltered flow of external stimuli as well as internal stimuli in the form of imagination. In my experience, I am always inside my head. I can continuously think about an idea for hours and days as my mind wanders on a subject. Also, I am perfectly comfortable with being left alone away from others to think and experience things unbothered. This habit keeps me thinking of my creativity constantly. I think that many creative people have no choice but to be creative, and they have limitations into what output they can achieve. I think the creative mind is constantly taking in, arranging, creating and even forgetting ideas. at least this is true in my experience. Gunter, Goleman, and Kaufman all write in agreement that creativity is fleeting. Because it is often a random occurrence, it is challenging to sustain and replicate fully. I think that it takes a seasoned creator’s own ritual to get into a flow state that will help them complete long-term creative pieces.
I want to move on to my last few points which are:
How is creativity meaningful to humanity?
Why do we create?
Do we need to create?
What inspires us to create?
It’s a crazy blur of questions, I know, but I think humans create because it’s a way to communicate. I think creativity is a way to communicate ideas, Humans have been doing it for thousands of years. Think to the Lascaux cave paintings in France about 20,000 years ago. The people painted the world around them, themselves, wild animals in nature, and their relationship to them. Some say that the paintings were painted by a select few people for ritualistic purposes or purely creative purposes. I have heard, I cannot remember where, that ancient people would use cave paintings to put themselves in a mindset that they were hunting these animals or being hunted by these animals that they are painted on the walls of caves. All in all, I think the central idea was to use the paintings in the caves as a communication tool. We can communicate without a physical being present to communicate; it is just there like a message. I think because humans have created for so long cave paintings, sculptures, pyramids, and temples; I think that is it is a need that we have. I think our brains need to get creative energy out of us and I think that creative people need to be creative. In my experience, I need to create an output of my ideas or my mind becomes cluttered and I feel like I have too much to think about. I obsess over too much that I want to do. Nonetheless, if I can get creativity out in a painting, music, or writing, then I will have a more free mind; that is what I value. In addition, inspiration is key to creativity, and I think we need the world around us otherwise we wouldn’t be creating. I think that is evident in ancient art because ancient art is less abstract and idealistic. It is more true to what people experienced in real life, in my opinion. I also think some of the art today to be idealistic of the future or modern times. On the contrary, in recent times, art in the 2010s have tried to be the truest reflection of what is good and bad in the modern world. I think we need the outside world and that is what inspires us the most; our minds are the nets that filters, mixes, and creates something new out of something small or sometimes nothing.
Much obliged for your time and reading! Thank you to those listening on the podcast and also those on YouTube for watching. I would like to converse with anyone about creativity and their experience with it. Also, I’d like to hear what they think about creating and what they think about what I’ve written or pretty much anything about creativity, art, and music. Social media links are listed. Talk to me, bye!
Art. It is something that has been a part of me since childhood. I am not that old (only 25) but I have been drawing since I was 5 or 6 years old. I remember a drawing contest on Toonami Cartoon Network. I drew Goku from Dragon Ball Z and asked my grandma to mail it off to the Network. Nothing ever came of that instead that I found that I had a love for drawing. Moreover, I loved to create things. I made play swords with wood by hammering nails with rocks and sanding the blades to a point on concrete. Masks with clay I found on the bank of a stream are among the pieces I’ve created.
I have the urge to confess my reason for writing this. I have given up (mostly) on traditional art; drawing digitally phones and tablets replaces the tangible materials I have stored away.
This was a big step for me because all I knew how to do was draw on paper. I don’t think this limits me. I can do many things digitally that I can’t do on paper and vice versa. Here’s my favorite clown, Pennywise, on paper:
“We all float down here”
However, I believe that practice on paper is essential to being a well-rounded artist. Besides, the more experience, the more skills one can acquire. This is how I started, I may be biased, but this worked for me.
My journey with art began much like art history. First, building rudamentary tools, then working on realism, next on to cartoons and the abstract, and finally to digital. Here’s digital Pennywise:
“Beep beep, Richie.”
All in all, I am just fine making the switch to digital art being how I create professional content. It goes back to my philosophy about art being an evolutionary thing that serves to express creativity.
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