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What is creativity and how to find innovative genius?

One of the sources of inspiration for my latest body or work
Medieval church in Bordighera Alta, Italy, site for "Voices from the Past."

This has long been a question posed to artists, scientists, entrepreneurs and forward thinkers through time. What made Michelangelo tick, and how did he read a block of marble so perfectly in coaxing out a David. And what attracted da Vinci to study then transform aviary flight into a rudimentary flying machine, or the science of atmospheric physics and disturbances.

Fast forward . . . these questions remain, (no surprise here) . . how are contemporary artists inspired to create increasingly different content, visuals and effects? The answers of course are much sought after by art lovers, collectors and the artists themselves as expressions, impressions and thoughts are provoked through a vast array of media, experience, and insight.

The idea of creativity can be very confusing — who exactly is creative and why are they creative? It's easy to recognize the creative giants whose contributions form the basis of our culture, like artists and musicians we can all name, or people who provide a scientific discovery or technological explanation that enable us to understand ourselves, our world or the cosmos. Linda Naiman, Founder, Creativity at Work describes creativity as “. . .the act of turning new and imaginative ideas into reality. Creativity is characterised by the ability to perceive the world in new ways, to find hidden patterns, to make connections between seemingly unrelated phenomena, and to generate solutions.”

The movement of water. 1 x 1m tabletop, ceramic on wood.
The sea and Caribbean was the inspiration for this. Its motion and the layers of colour seen underwater.

Texas A&M University Commerce’s Daniel Chadborn and Stephen Reysen premise a recent study with “inspiration acts as a motivational concept, in which inspiration is evoked (generated) from a source and a person then finds some means to transmit an idea and is driven to produce some creative outcome as a result.”

As individually as we are created, each of us has a diverse approach to creativity and their fountain of inspiration, continually juggling a spectrum of issues. Is it deeply personal? Does it stem from a life-changing event or grounded on current events and political upheaval? Your surroundings, economic restraints, childhood memories, Or are you basing a work on a contemporary whim, a like or dislike? Does it come from pure happiness or a great anger? Or, did the proverbial light bulb illuminate!

In the recent collection “Voices from the Past” my art has taken a deliberate departure from internationally known and collected contemporary, abstract mosaics. Curators, art enthusiasts and collectors are asking what’s with the switch?

I thought I would share a few insights through my own experience with new revelations, how to affect a change, and once half way there, how to stay focused.

Insight 1 — Spearhead Change

Perhaps the knowledge that I was getting older and feeling stagnant where I was (i.e. getting out of my same environment and routine) helped launch innovation for me. I was looking for something new and finally found myself in a position to travel, returning to a place I never wanted to leave in my childhood. Once there, digging up my past — literally — turned into a wellspring of inspiration, a first for me. In other words, going back gave me the opportunity to revisit, from a different perspective in order to create something new and diverse.

Insight 2 — Read a Book

Amazing how reading a book can spike interest, provide a diversion or maybe a new passion, a reason to get deeper into a subject or curiosity. The combination of reading and travel is what initiates inspiration for much of my work.

Insight 3 — Turn it Upside Down

I never thought of myself as a good painter or collage artist. However, living on a small island for over 10 years taught me how to repurpose. So the “use what is at hand” while traveling compelled (inspired) new. I also took a tried and true approach learned all those years ago in painting class (never worked for me) and turned it upside down. Hence a unique art-form.

Insight 4 — Passion is Important

Here I envision myself at the Dolby Theater accepting my Academy award, and whom do I thank first? My parents. During my time of travel and discovery I lost the most motivated and accomplished woman I know, my mother. It was through the rediscovery of places and subject matter that she loved that help keep me focused, uplifted and tuned-in, an engaging journey of passion . . . then ideas flowed.

Tanaro (Venus) Etruscan ceramic bust was the inspiration for this piece. She is superimposed with other ancient iconic goddesses.

Insight 5 — A Personal Odyssey

We all grapple with this one “how to find inspiration.” Unfortunately there is no defining roadmap for realising our way as each of us is influenced differently. A walk in nature was a guiding light for Vincent Van Gogh, just as Shakespeare was inspired by “humanity's enduring spirit, intelligence and grace.”1 I certainly find motivation in nature and humanity, however yoga, meditation and music all bring in a sixth, intuitive element, kind of a guiding source, an inspiration uniquely mine.

I welcome your comments and thoughts and would love to hear what influencing and motivational elements inspiration creativity that is uniquely yours.

You can find more on creativity and inspiration at:

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