This week's blog post was written by mosaic artist Colleen Patricia Willams.
This weeks’ post is about not just art, but the creative process and what aids that process. Modern American society is a busy place; work, family and other social commitments tend to take up our time, leaving us little time for leisure activities. This busyness cuts into our sleep, our meals and deprives us of a lot of necessary relaxation.
Neuroscience suggests that this trend has not been a good thing for Americans; it comes at the expense of creative enterprises, which tend to raise our life satisfaction as well as help us to live longer. Those moments when one becomes unaware of the passage of time, when the brain focuses on the project at hand, those moments are called “flow” and those moments are very good for us, not just as artists, but in other areas.
Flow is when we are relaxed, when time slips away, much like when one is driving, deep in thought; we find ourselves surprised when we pull into the driveway, listening to the music, it seemed like the drive took no time at all. This phenomenon generalizes out to the rest of our lives; at work, and especially at play, flow allows us to become one with the project, the concepts, that we are trying to express. It’s a good thing to take the time to experience flow; coloring can do this, which is what is behind the rise of the adult coloring book.
Another crucial area that needs to be considered is the role of sleep in the creative process; sleep not only cleans detritus out of our brains, but sleep allows new information learned during the waking period, to become better embedded in the brain. Sleep aids in healing and growth; growth of neuronal connections is vital to the creative process as is the pruning of unneeded neuronal connections. Sleep allows the brain to reorganize all of the input that has come into the brain during the waking period; this sleep period also allows weaker subsystems in the brain that are overwhelmed during the day, to emerge as the stronger systems are on hold. This is the origin of the A HA! moment. There are many documented instances of the answer to a critical question to a problem that come in dreams, like the invention of the sewing machine.
The inventor of the sewing machine was having a difficult time getting the thread to work; one night, during a dream, he saw the answer in the spear points that he dreamed of that night. They had holes in the tips, which when he applied this to the needles, it allowed the thread to properly loop, solving the problem he was having with his invention, that has changed the world.
The point that I hope to make for all people, artists and those who are not artists, is that we can all be creative, we can all do things to enhance our creativity, with sleep being the number one thing that we can all do, for free.
Stop by Artistic Portland to see and purchase Colleen's illuminated mosaics and hand-drawn coloring books!