Creative thinking in art

I'm giving a presentation next week during our annual Plein Air Painters of the Southeast paint out and workshop (you can get info on it at and the topic is creative thinking in art. I made a cool powerpoint slide show and have a few examples of creativity in art and if you happen to be near black mountain NC next friday or saturday, come on by.... but chances are you won't be so here's an overview. I taught creative thinking for a couple of years at a local community college, a great class, fun and about as non-class like  as i could make it. The point of the class was to get everyone, artists and non-artists alike, to see the world a little differently, to come at a problem not from the straight on direction but around the side, through the kids playground and in the back way and perhaps even challenge their own preconceptions. The thing is that once you start thinking  differently, challenging the old ways of seeing and doing things, it's hard to stop. Ideas flow like tap water, you can't turn it off... I wouldn't want to. I now think metaphorically about everything, I allow my inner artist to play with whatever I see, making new connections from existing information. The stuff below is partially from a great book by Roger Van Oech called A whack on the side of the head (a great read), partially from other text and a lot from experience: There are three stages in the creative thinking process. The explorer, the artist, and the judge.

The explorer collects information, data, reference, goes off the beaten path to look for inspiration (rather than looking in a book about painting try going to an antique store or a fabric store or maybe a biker bar)

The artist is the child, allowed to take all the stuff and mix and match and flip and distort and smudge and erase and think metaphorically and free associate and color and express without judging it as good or bad.

That's the job of the judge. The judge is the one who comes in and objectively reviews the work to date. Stands back and looks for cracks and problems. One of the tricks is to keep the judge at bay till the artist is done playing, granted when we are painting we use a form of the judge throughout the process but it's helps to be able to allow yourself the freedom to make mistakes because they may lead you to a place you might never have gotten.

Fear is the great killer of creativity, fear of being judged by others. Though I can't imagine anyone being as harsh as we are to ourselves. Try creating something as if no one would ever see it. If no one is there to judge it, would it still be considered "wrong".If you have created somthing that doesn't look like everyone elses something, is that bad? It's just different. At the time Monet created a huge stir with his impressionism, he was scorned and chastized and ridiculed (the guy whose work now hangs in a lot of bathrooms and hotel halls) for being different and now he is considered one of the fathers of modernism.

Think without fear, create without limitations... it'll free you up.