The need to express motion in a way that resonated with me led to smearing, combing and manipulating paint in all sorts of ways. And where did I find it? I found it in a can. Well, to be fair, I first found it in a straw. Yes, a straw. Perhaps some of you have grade-school memories of placing watercolor blobs onto paper and blowing through a straw to create a design. That’s where I found it. Don’t be fooled, this took some experimenting with approach and control. The painting to the right, “Light of Speed” was created in watercolor; it had to be laid flat to create it and I had to work fast to achieve certain blending effects.The painting to the left, “Hummingbird & Flower” was a test of using the same idea as the straw method, but with acrylics inks, not laid flat and using canned air instead of blowing through a straw. The reason I had to “adjust” the straw technique was because I was graced with the opportunity to collaborate with several artists in a public live art performance called The Creation. The collaboration involved, amongst other elements, a giant, upright canvas, and painting to the inspiration of music in front of a crowd. I feared I might faint from trying to blow through a straw repeatedly. Also, I knew that I needed to work fast to cover such a large canvas. It took a lot of stubborn searching to discover that canned air was the solve. Visit Facebook to see pictures from this event and see below for a more fuller explanation.
I don’t paint; what does this have to do with me?
The process of reaching for that one avenue of expression that feels right to YOU can be applied to almost anything you do. One iteration of the bicyclist in motion was very much liked by the person commissioning the piece, but I didn’t feel it hit that mark. If you don’t receive that knock in your gut that shouts, “This is it!!” Then, keep searching. Creativity in thought requires hard work; don’t shy away from it. Who hasn’t heard of creative problem solving? So, if your team or your family or your club is trying to solve a problem and your guts tell you there is a better way, don’t stop searching. Below are some thoughts on how to live the creative life in applying this process:
Listen to your guts. If you don’t think, “This is it!” don’t stop searching.
Creative problem solving requires you recognize when you’ve hit the mark. If you have never experienced or rarely experience a this-is-it! moment, then you need to take a deep look into the direction of your life. I recommend calling on the services of a career counselor (I happen to know a fabulous one: email Deb Eibner of Symmetry Coaching). If you have experienced one of these moments, then keep that experience within mental reach. You need to know when you do or don’t hit, to be successful. Every time you are problem-solving, whether alone or in a group, and some solve to a challenge is proposed, ask yourself if it hits the mark of “This is it!” If it doesn’t, don’t stop searching.
Be flexible. When creative problem solving on a team, it requires you to be open to a “This is it!” that is shared.
It is very easy to keep searching until you find the this-is-it! moment in solving a challenge when you are working alone. But, not all challenges are assigned soley to you. Some challenges are shared with teammates or groups of people. You must realize that in this instance, the this-is-it! mark is shared and doesn’t consist solely of your vision. Be flexible. Some of the best creative solves have been born of collaborative efforts.
Don’t stall. If you don’t get the “This is it!” don’t stall progress.
Finally, you should never trade forward momentum for holding out for the this-is-it!. There is a balance to strike here; you want the best solve, but, in most instances, there are deadlines to meet. A good leader in a group that is tasked with solving a problem cannot only recognize when a consensual this-is-it! has been found, but possesses two other characteristics: they can discern when the deadline needs to be pushed out, or when delay is not in the best interest of the team/business/organization, AND never forgets that moving forward with a solve that may fall short of the this-is-it! mark, does not mean that the challenge disappears. It can and should be revisited at some appropriate point in the future until that mark is hit. You shouldn’t stop searching just because you’ve found a solve; don’t stop until you find THE solve.
It isn’t just within the fields of art —music, dance, paint, pottery, photography— that resides the need to express an idea, a feeling or a thought; it is integral with being human. We need to express ourselves. I wanted to express motion when I painted and hit that this-is-it! point. You should want the same for your endeavors.
There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and will be lost.― Martha Graham