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You Can Boost Your Creativity By Looking At Art

10 December 2014

From SFGate:

Something in our brain responds when we look at a painting.

That experience refreshes and changes us. Afterwards we are more creative and open to learning. We are less mentally fatigued.

Our brains are primed for enjoying art.

For longer than we’ve had the written word, humans have created and stared at images drawn onto walls in the hopes of invoking something — story, awe, remembrance.

. . . .

A study published in the June issue of the journal Brain and Cognition looked at the research that neuroscientists have done while scanning the brains of people looking at paintings. In some cases subjects were asked to evaluate the work they looked at, in others they just looked.

Viewing paintings triggered responses in brain regions associated with visual understanding and object recognition, as might be expected, but viewing artwork also was connected to activity associated with emotions, inner thoughts, and learning.

. . . .

After visiting an art museum, students show stronger critical thinking skills and are more socially tolerant. Much of the research on this topic involves children or young adults but the benefits are consistent, and other research shows that (more general) arts programs may help older adults keep healthy and stave off cognitive decline, though more studies are needed in the area.

Visiting a museum can relieve mental fatigue and restore the ability to focus in the same way that the outdoors can,according to research from the University of Queensland in Australia — this research wasn’t limited to art museums, which is why the assignment doesn’t require an art museum specifically.

But in general, going to a museum is a novelty-seeking venture, which triggers your brain to be open to learning.

Link to the rest at SFGate

PG enjoys all sorts of visual art, but since he dabbles in photography, that’s one of his favorites.

PG suspects the creative benefits from viewing art can also be obtained by looking at good photographs online. Two of his favorite locations for doing this are 500px and Photo.net (you can filter Photo.net in all sorts of ways).

Creativity

19 Comments to “You Can Boost Your Creativity By Looking At Art”

  1. I see a story prompt in this picture from the 500px site PG recommends —

    Is she a country music singer at the crossroads of her career? Did she just leave her soul mate’s ranch? Is she thinking that she needs to get back in her truck right now and go back to him? Have I just outlined a plot to a Lifetime movie 🙂 ?

    Or, she could be a fairy godmother trying to get her emotional bearings before she gets back in the game. Maybe she’s burned out or doubting herself and her mission. Maybe she’s brooding that she needs to atone for another mission, where she let her own desires get in the way of truly helping someone. This time, though, she’ll get it right.

    I simply must find a use for the “Fiery sky” picture from Attilio Ruffo (page 1 for now). I already wrote a few scenes that the Dragon’s Fly picture by Javier de la Torre would be perfect for.

    I’m bookmarking this site; thanks PG.

  2. Bet the same is true for reading a really good book.

    Photographs do nothing for me, though looking at beautiful settings, people, things in real life does.

  3. Music too.

    Or making a puzzle (which — oops, becomes a picture! 😉 )

    • Music is my main inspiration, that, and I love watching fan-made clips, and trailers without knowing what the movie is about and making my own story on the bases of them. It’s usually different from the plot line of the movie.

  4. It’s amazing, the value of art. It pulls from very deep. Thanks PG (smiles).

  5. While looking at online photos, as PG suggests, may be energizing, there’s a lot to be said for breaking out of your routine to encounter art in other environments. Then you get the immediacy of the artworks, many in grander scale and three dimensions. Plus you share the air, light and reactions of other human beings in what may be inspiring venues.

    If you believe that being in a rut—doing the same things in the same place the same way—dampens creativity, then leaving your beaten path can be energizing no matter what you do. Better than running errands or walking the dog, though, is placing yourself in the receptive frame of mind you take to the art gallery.

    Doesn’t have to be visual art, either. Concerts, science/technology museums, even a good zoo can shake the cobwebs loose. At least that’s been my experience.

    • We have an Art in Place program in my town. I love seeing new sculptures appear in unexpected places and old ones in expected places giving way to their replacements. It’s a rich environment to move through.

  6. I look at my beautiful face in the mirror about 3 times a week. It makes me smarter.

  7. For me, it’s listening to music not looking at art. But because music is a form of art, I totally agree that art unleashes creativity. For me, all it takes is one song to spark a scene, a chapter, even a new book to life in my head.

  8. Music and visual art both do this for me.

    I first realized it in the 10th grade, when an English teacher handed the class an assignment to write a short story about a photograph of a forked path leading through a forest. An entire story popped into my head instantly, and she gave me encouragement based on the finished story that stayed with me for years. It was one of those positive reinforcement moments where I realized I wasn’t complete rubbish at the writing thing.

    I listen to a lot of film music when writing. Vocals can be distracting, but instrumental film scores are really good for getting into specific frames of mind.

  9. Back in July, while viewing a Van Gogh exhibit, the ending to a story I’d been struggling with just came to me.

    Van Gogh’s painting had nothing to do with the plot or the characters, but I have to say that the solution to my ending crystallized while appreciating The Potato Eaters. I can’t explain the process, but, hey, there it is.

  10. For three or four years now, almost all of my stories have been based on fantasy art. All it takes is enough to inspire a character or conflict and I’m off.

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