Brilliant BBC Horizon documentary last night - 'The Creative Brain: How Insight Works' on the neuroscience behind creative insights - utterly compelling viewing for entrepreneurial educators like me.
Dave Jarman's article surfaced while I was in the middle of teaching a Design workshop for textile artists. Isn't it interesting that as much as I thought I knew about the creative process, Jarman's take caused exactly the sort of shift for me that he described in his review!
The relevant point concerned assumptions we make. The Creative Brain: How Insight Works suggests that ah ha moments often spring up because we've temporarily let go of our everyday assumptions.
One of my standard assumptions is that workshop participants are more comfortable when they know where we're headed and what we're going to do. I call it mapping the day.
But a niggling thought prevailed, and I decided to make the first exercise of the morning an open-ended one.No explanation of why we were doing what I requested, or what we would do with what we painted. The assignment? Just take black paint and Go!! Fill the page with marks.
Yeah, it was uncomfortable for the participants. There were furrowed brows, and the occasional deep sigh. A few plaintive requests for further explanation...to a deaf ear. Mine. Maybe a little discomfort is good!
Because not knowing where we were going seemed to keep us in present time. Which is a good way to approach making.
I'd swear the pages of marks we displayed later were fresher and distinctive somehow. Was it because they were made for the sake of making? Because there was NO assumption about where marks would end up or how they would be used?
I was surprised, and not sure I'm right. But I'm definitely going to try it again in another setting, and see what happens.