Think Like An Artist


Do artistic people think differently?  Surely you’ve heard of the caricatured artistic personality that borders on the eccentric.  Heck, you know some eccentric artists and musicians that border on insanity!  Just where are they emotionally and psychologically? Why do they flaunt flowing scarfs in the wind and wear multi-coloured pants and resemble Tom Baker’s Doctor ( Who )more than a mere mortal.

Well I’m no psychiatrist but I am an artist who occasionally could use some psychiatric help.

I know I’m not alone for you see actors, musicians and writers are kindred spirits.  Here’s the skinny really. Everyone has the ability to think artistically (that is according to a book I read years ago, *Drawing on the Right Side of The Brain by Betty Edwards ) but not everyone chooses to do so.

**Artists/ creatives are not fully in the present and yet they are more aware of their surroundings and more sensitized to them than a lot of  people. At least in a different and fresh way.   In other words a mere puddle becomes a lake or  it transforms into vast ocean in the imagination fueled eyes of the artist.  A bunch of dried standing pine needles becomes a visual metaphor for a group of undefined people.  Am I losing you?  To put it more simply the artist (and any creative person) interprets and re-interprets their surroundings to not what is but what could be !  A raindrop sliding down the window pane could very well be an entire cosmos-sphere (is that a word?) where dwells tiny aquatic creatures who live out their lives in all the mundane and tragic performances that we humans are familiar with.

So it is not so much what is mechanically and empirically present that matters to an artist but what potentially exists just beyond the boundary of reality, of normality.   The artist has one foot here and one foot there;  there being a place of hers or his own choosing.  Well what horse-crap is this you demand!  Wait, before you burn them at the stake for their sorcery consider the world that exists in our minds that artists have placed there already ,too late to be changed.  Famous paintings by Monet, Van Gogh or Salvador Dali are present in our collective consciousness. Where would we be without Hobbits and Wookiees and Dragons and Krakens!  Do these things exist?  Are they real, these foolish vanities?  We spend millions each year on books and films to discover the answer or to enter a world where these fictions possibly exist.   Our minds need the rest from the everyday that cause artists and writers no rest.

Sure, we all must work to provide and to relent to taxation.  We all must live in the present and in the moment. Tis true!  What relief though, that there are artists and thinkers that can awaken something deep in our minds through the portals of our eyes and ears.  They cause us to see the other things we miss.  They are the children of our minds who resist the impressive sensory might of the tall oak tree in exchange for the tiny caterpillar travelling his fascinating course.

At the end of the day, when you lay down the tools at the bench or close the laptop’s window on a days work of accounting and spreadsheet to pick up a book, to peer at a brilliant piece of art or  to enjoy an ordinary sitcom then  think of the artist, the musician and the poet.  We need them.  There is a little bit of artist in all of us. Think like an artist.

Almost forgot.  The photo is of a corner of my office/gallery which displays some of my latest or more recent work.

* Apparently the creative process involves both halves of the brain and not just the right side.  The two halves more likely complement each other.

** I’m defining artist as mainly a visual artist in this article but including writers, and musicians, etc. Most work, I would think, requires the ability to imagine solutions before they exist and to be creative in some way.

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