"Between 1960 and 1980 the U.S. work force increased 43 percent, while the number of artists shot up 144 percent. Even during the 1980s, when the United States created new jobs at an unparalleled pace - 16 million between 1983 and 1988 - jobs in artistic careers outpaced overall job growth," states John Naisbitt in "Megatrends 2000." These examples are among the hundreds of statements showing a definite movement toward the arts.
IBM and companies like it have recently enrolled their executives in visual arts classes. Not because IBM is getting into the growing art business or looking for a new Rembrandt, but because their research has proven a clear link between visual arts training and creative problem solving.Small business has traditionally been big on creativity and creative problem solving. In fact, hundreds of new small businesses are formed each year as creative solutions to market needs discovered by the founder. But as soon as the business is up, spontaneous ideas are replaced with routines and rules. To some extent, this is necessary and efficient. If taken too far, it places a cap on creativity.
We as entrepreneurs, as well as corporate types, know the value of creative thinking. At times, creativity seems to be such an elusive commodity. How can we get into our creative modes more often?
Observe the young child. He lives in a world just waiting to be discovered. He relishes licorice or shiny black shoes with eager anticipation.
He sees brightly colored balloons and must hold the strings, then let them float up into the sky.
We find his adult counterpart faced with a problem. He consults a dictionary. He plugs it into a formula on his personal computer. He pulls out his calculator and slide rule. They operate under the impression that all answers have already been discovered, and it is their job to simply "look them up."
The sense of discovery is rare in adult human beings.
We were all born right-brained, creative, curious, spontaneous, responsive and alive with discovery. Our society, including traditional school training, stresses memorization, automatic feedback, rules, laws, parameters and formulas. At the beginning of many high school or college classes, the instructor will hand out a formula for getting an "A" in the class. You must memorize the following, feed it back to him in the form of tests, write your essays within these parameters and not break any rules.
Automatic feedback and memorization is, of course, a good thing - to an extent. It would be a waste of time to rediscover how to talk or eat each new day. But all of life is not a math test.
After teaching hundreds of children and adults in visual art, my discovery is this: Creativity and the need to express one's self creatively is a common denominator in all human beings.
Another discovery: Working in visual arts (as student or teacher) enhances one's ability to see. No longer is there only one right answer. In the left brain, two plus two is always four. Anything else is wrong. In the right brain world of visual art there are many "right answers." A cool dark passage in a painting can be expressed with blues, violets or blue-greens, as the artist wishes. It is the artist's decision. A matter of style. A matter of personal expression.
The left brain tells you to draw a memorized symbol for the object in front of you. But if you learn to switch over to your right brain, you will see it new, for the first time, as if you had never seen it before. You will discover the color, shape, value, texture and strength of the object. Just as the young child discovers how licorice and black shoes taste.
The right brain process awakens a new world of discovery in every area of your life. The sunset is brilliant. The shadows on the snow are violet-blue. Your own children are fascinating to observe. Business problems can be approached and solved in a myriad of creative ways. In fact, you have the sense that you can travel in a multidimensional world of infinite possible solutions.
Debbie Moon is a professional artist and art instructor, co-owner of Moonshadow Art - The Artist's Pro Shop, in Bountiful. If you have any questions, please call 299-0777.