Creativity Posts

Spontaneity | Life is spontaneous. It happens by itself. This is one of the fundamental principles of Buddhism. While it is good to make plans and set goals, it’s important to make time for life to unfold before you. This isn’t living life according to whim. There is more to spontaneity than caprice and disorder.

As an artist, I can tell you how this is true. I can’t tell you where my ideas come from. They happen spontaneously. It’s difficult for me to approach a canvas or piece of paper with an expectation. When I try to make something specific, it never seems to turn out right. So my approach has been to let the materials “speak” to me. I mix the paint right on the canvas. I see what shapes start to appear on their own.  (To continue reading this post, please click here.)



Synesthesia as a Gateway to Creativity | I was recently invited to share my research with Exchanges: The Warwick Research Journal, published by The University of Warwick.

Abstract: This article encapsulates my experience of teaching creativity within a higher education curriculum. Creativity often eludes common understanding because it involves using different conceptual streams of thought, often times developing unconsciously and manifesting in the prized “eureka” moment. In 2009, I began explaining the neurological condition of synaesthesia and later introduced this phenomenology in a course designed to cultivate creativity to first year fashion design students. There are many challenges in teaching creativity. Through teaching this course, I discovered that the first challenge is making the students conscious of their own qualitative beliefs on creativity and art. The second is creating exercises to challenge and alter these beliefs, thus forming a new way of thinking and experiencing the world. The most resistance from my students arose when experimenting with non-representational art. They did not have a conscious framework for making and evaluating abstract art. Introducing synaesthesia, a neurologically-based condition that “merges” two or more sensory pathways in the brain, gave my students a framework for discovery. Understanding sensory modalities and ways in which these modalities can blended together in synaesthesia proved to be a gateway to creativity in many of my students. The scope of this article chronicles how I developed my teaching methodology, the results it created in my classroom, as well as its effects on my own artistic practice. (To read the full article, please visit: Teaching Synaesthesia as a Gateway to Creativity)



Showing Up | I’ve been feeling really inspired by If You Want to Write.  It’s a great guide for doing anything creative.  This is mostly because it repeatedly explains that good writing (or art, or anything worth doing) is spontaneous, free, and expressive without trying to be “good”.  In fact, we can kill our creative impulses by thinking too much or trying to impress others.  The really good stuff comes out when we shed our fears and ways of evaluating while we are creating.  (To continue reading this post, please click here.)

Synesthesia in Art & Fashion | And that, in part, is what synesthesia is.  Synesthesia is a neurologically-based condition in which stimulation of one sensory pathway leads to automatic, involuntary experiences in a second sensory pathway. Synesthetes, those that have synesthesia, will see colors when they hear sound or touch objects.  Every case of synesthesia is different.  Some people see colors while tasting food.  Others hear sounds from the smell of fragrances.  Some can taste sounds and images.  The most commonly reported phenomenon is people hearing and seeing letters and numbers in colors.  Each color has a specific color.  No synesthete sees the same color for letters.  (To continue reading this post, please click here.)
Puzzles of the Brain | But in 2007, Lonni Sue contracted encephalitis.   Encephalitis is acute inflammation of the brain, which can cause brain damage and death. Lonni Sue had such an acute case of encephalitis that she had permanent brain damage in the hypocampus.  This is the region of the brain that stores memory.  Lonni Sue short and long-term memory were affected.  She had to relearn how to walk, talk, and eat.  She couldn’t remember past events, like her marriage or the death of her father.  She also has difficulty remember things she has just done.  (Very similar to the film, Memento.)  Lonnie Sue did retain a sense of identity – she knew who she was, that she had been an artist.  She also retained a rich and extensive vocabulary.  Slowly, she began relearning motor skills.  In an attempt to get her back to art, Lonnie Sue’s mother devised games to get Lonnie to draw.  First, she drew shapes and had Lonni Sue copy them.  As Lonni Sue’s motor skills progressed, her mother would draw squiggles and stray lines and instruct her to “finish the picture”.  Lonnie Sue began creating art again.  Her new style incorporated very similar characteristics to her previous work, but included words.  (To continue reading this post, please click here.)
A Stroke of Genius: Sudden Artistic Output |A new phenomenon I’ve become familiar with is called sudden artistic output.  This is an extremely rare neurological condition that affects the brain’s breaking system.  So what does this mean?  It means that the brain can no longer inhibit certain behaviors.  In the case of sudden artistic output, people who have this condition has a compulsion to create works of art.There are only a handful of cases, but the most prolific were investigated in an amazing show called Secret Life of the Brain.  The show introduced hree men: Jon Sarkin (American), Tommy McHugh (British), and Tony Cicoria (American).  John and Tommy are compelled to paint and sculpt, while Tony has become obsessed with playing the piano.  The most interesting thing about all three of these men is that none of them had a previous interest in the arts.  None of them had ever painted, sculpted, or played a musical instrument.  Sudden artistic output was a byproduct of a traumatic accident for each of them.  Tommy had a brain hemorrhage, Jon had a stroke and brain hemorrhage, and Tony was struck by lightening.  (To continue reading this post, please click here.)
Color Semiotics: Unraveling Hidden Meaning of Color | Semiotics is the study of signs and symbols as elements of communicative behavior – including language, gestures, and fashion.  But I had never really considered that colors have encoded, semiotic meanings.  Maryam is conducting a fascinating study on how we respond to color.  She graciously allowed me to interview her on color semiotics and her study. (To continue reading this post, please click here.)
The Structure of Scientific Revolutions | According to Kuhn, normal science is based on a collective assumption of the scientific community that the world functions in a specific way.  This assumption is a paradigm, or a model, for the rest of the community and their successive theories, experiments, and basic way of perceiving the physical world.  The scientific community relies on paradigms, and measures all successive theories and discoveries to these pre-existing beliefs.  This ridged concept of reality and science makes it difficult for new theories and discoveries to develop, as they endanger the tradition of science and prove the paradigm as erroneous. (To continue reading this post, please click here.)
Existence is Musical | Existence is musical.  I heard this expression a few weeks ago, and it left a big impression on me.  The idea that life doesn’t have a destination, a goal, is really liberating.  For a long time, I felt trapped in an endless corridor of goals.  I became enmeshed in the idea that success is a far off destination, achieved only after years of school, tedious jobs, and walking over hot coals.  The dream is to one day arrive – whenever that is – save up a bit, retire and then enjoy the fruits of your labor.  (To continue reading this post, please click here.)