Friday, February 5, 2010

Switching to Right Brain Activity

"Where did my right brain go?"

This week I heard several of my students bemoan the fact that it's hard to gear up for a creative session when they've been totally immersed with life's problems all day or they have suffered from a creative block. I have a solution to these problems and it is to develop a quick and easy personal trigger that can be called upon as needed to switch your mind from left to right whenever you want to become creative.

As a professional artist I don't have the luxury of painting only when I am in the mood. I have to fit my painting time into the nooks and crannies surrounding my work schedule. Because art is important to me I want to maximize the time I do have to study and perform at my peak. It's essential that I come to the easel fresh and ready to paint and cannot afford to worry about my "mood" or what's happening outside the studio. How do I do that?

First and most important, I go to my studio, sit down, making myself comfortable, and then.....

1) with pen in hand I fill a sheet of paper from left to right, line by line, with words as they pop into my mind. I allow no sentence structure or punctuation. I write as fast as I can to fill the page (time about 5 minutes), or

2) work on several reverse imaging exercises to achieve mind, eye, and hand coordination (time about 10 minutes), or

3) (my favorite) view a slide show on my laptop computer of favorite paintings that I've collected. This not only activates right side thinking but also relaxes and inspires me (time about 8 min.).

My images are of photos I've taken of favorite paintings from the permanent collection of the Detroit Institute of Art (always check with a museum to make sure you can photograph their permanent collection). Take a little time to crop and coordinate the images into a pleasing sequence then hit the slide show button. I have enough images that my slide show runs for about 8 minutes. By the time it has run its course I am usually hooked and good to go. If I happen to be a hard core case on any given day then I may have to view it more than once.

Notice in all three of my triggers I am not problem solving. I shy away from activities such as sorting photographs to work from as that requires my logical brain to be running, I'm not flipping through an art book where I can get caught up in reading and analyzing (logical) the artists written information, etc. I am doing visual cuing, in a relaxed mental state, that forces the brain to switch modes.

Since I began using #3 above I have had enormous success in switching gears. No matter how dicey life gets outside the studio I can feel serene and creative in just a matter of minutes.

Dealing with a creative blocks are a bit more difficult. In short, one must go back to the basics and paint simple things. More on that later....

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