Monday, February 7, 2011

Feeding Your Creativity

When I was in my early thirties I went to graduate school at BYU and while there, I became acquainted with the art work of James Christiansen. Since seeing his art, I have become a fan and watched his career blossom.

Mr. Christiansen is known for his creative expression and allowing his imagination to go beyond any boundaries. He suggests using a card file system to record your concepts, ideas, visions, pictures, and all facets of your personal life experience. He suggests that by recording them on cards, you can then bring out your card file and start mixing up the different concepts by pulling out cards and and putting them next to each other to see where it takes you.

He says he continually feeds and expands his card file with ideas and then practices combining the cards and putting them together in new ways. He says inspiration can come that way because you can take out something you know, combine it with something else you know, and then you start seeing it in a totally new light. It can be magical!

According to his book "A Journey of the Imagination," Mr. Christiansen's art piece titled "One Light" shows a hunchback who represents "the Everyman" with his single, tiny light. He is sitting on a checkerboard which represents the world. The piece is a study of balances and opposites, light against dark; life against death. The flower on his sleeve is life, the pin in his hat is a reminder of death. The main message is to let your own light shine, and together we will light up the world, one light at a time.

I can see Mr. Christiansen pulling out his different cards and rifling through them to help trigger his imagination. He eventually sees some concepts coming together from his various cards with concepts that are part of his personal life, ideas, and visions. A piece of art starts to emerge.

Somehow this little piece of imagery created from his imagination grows and the piece is finally able to speak. Pretty amazing.


Amander said...

Thanks for this. Lately I've expanded my view of "creativity" - I used to limit it to the traditional "creative pursuits" (art, music, decorating, etc.), but I've decided to look at creativity as any time you create something (ideas, relationships, emotions, moods, etc.). I like thinking about creativity through Mr. Christiansen's ideas.

AnotherQ said...

He says he used the book "101 Things to Do with an Alligator" with his students as an exercise in imagination.

He says coming up with the first 5 or 6 things to do with an alligator is easy (shoes, purse, etc) but when you are at idea #78, you have to go somewhere for inspiration. He suggests using your card catalog of ideas. By using your card catalog you can come up with something totally mixed up and creative, like "strapping alligators on each foot and using them for water skis"....which is a way of taking something you know and putting it together in a new light.

I think you're right...creativity is beyond the traditional pursuits. It will be fun to see where your ideas are going to take you.