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!
Aston, Margaret. The Panorama Of The Renaissance. 1st ed., vol. 1, Harry N. Abrams, INC., Publishers, pp. 206-206,218,226,232,239-262.