The Creative Brain and How It Works – Applied Neuroscience

“The Creative Brain and How It Works – Applied Neuroscience” With Silvia Damiano and Ralph Kerle |

Date: Monday August 9, 2010

Venue: University of Technology Sydney (UTS), Jones Street, Ultimo corner Thomas Street. Room 5.580 Level 5, Building 10, Take the lift to level 5, cross the atrium foot bridge, walk straight ahead to room 580.

Time: From 5:30pm to 7:30pm sharp | No RSVP – Just turn up

There is a body of theories and papers starting to emerge in neuroscience around how our brain works creatively. This body of work suggests if you can be more aware of how your brain works in a context that calls upon creative endeavor, you will be able to alter your thinking or adjust your actions, in the process becoming more aware of your own creative praxis and how you can comfortably and confidently contribute your best to creative collaboration – an awareness that can be knowledgeably sustained and improved over time.

In this highly experiential session, participants will undertake a creative team challenge using a theoretical framework and an arts based process to test this hypothesis in practice. Through this process, you will observe and discern your own creative preferences and biases!!


There is a “sister” site to the Art-Resource site you are currently viewing, it has a range of different resources but is still Visual Arts based. The aim is to have more practical resources over there and interviews and views over here.

I  hope you enjoy both, and remember to bookmark them for later reference and or subscribe to the RSS  or email links…

Photo Basics

Lets look at Photographic Art as an artistic communication device and the ways you might go about using a camera to explore creative concepts, here are a bunch of points to consider when “painting with light”.

Here’s the link to read more on this article…

The Month…

Here’s an art activity to perhaps keep you from falling into a void with your work, (Not that this ever happens!) or exploring the media and things that happen in our daily lives.

For each day of one month, make an art work about something that happened in the news, you could go for sensational headlines, or page three small stories of low interest but perhaps piercing value.

Perhaps some of the days you will just enlarge a section of the paper and create a simple collage, if ideas are not forthcoming… Perhaps the main works will be the same size all the way through. Perhaps the works become a wide “digital” panorama image on a wide website site where the viewer scrolls through the days.

Whatever the end product, the aim is to work with the inspiration of daily news (images, text, sound, video’s etc.) then explore how this connects each day (or not.) think about abstract ways you could present the information, or ways to use text in the works, and will you let the viewer know what day each one represents?

You could adapt the exercise to look at set chunks of history or a time based piece that explores the same time of day or night over an extended period.

The Monoprint as a Technique to Explore.

Some times in the Visual Arts you see things that make you go “wow”, or “OH WOW…” many years back I had one of those experiences when a group of 1st Yr Diploma students started in printmaking. I was new to the technicians role and although Mono-prints were something I knew about I soon realised that at the time I knew very little (until that time I probably didn’t see the benefit).

What stood out was the sense of wonderment this technique produced in a short time frame. Ok so here is how it was set up, on laminex tables (usually done on a plate or a toughened chunk of glass.) ink was rolled out (the sort they use for linocuts), print paper layed on top and then the students drew designs on the back. Being strong black, the light lines drawn in pencil and pen on the back of the paper, brought vibrant strong lines to life. On other tables other colours were rolled out, but the black was the most popular the contrast grabbed attention and by using a range of devices to make marks with, a range of tone and textures were created.

It’s a simple process, and on pulling a few prints in the leanly rolled ink (less seems to be better in this case), a few more rolls to bring it back to “life” and you can create a whole bunch of images. That was one WOW factor for me as ink on paper usually involved lengthy processes, now here was one print technique that happened fast, and done well on the right paper the deep velvety look of the ink can be fantastic.

The other wow factor was watching students develop ideas on the run, a few sketchy ideas and they were off. The potential therefore for a printmaker/drawer to create a vast amount of works on a theme is very possible.

So next time you want to do more than a doodle or sketch, try out some mono prints (this method is only one of a number of techniques and does not require a press).

The student, painting and costs…

As a student of the arts cost is generally a big factor, you want to paint but by the time you make a stretcher, get the canvas (heck linen is so expensive, canvas is it…) then stretch it and undercoat… PHEW it’s time to paint at last!

All very well but the cost is sending you broke… so what to do?

Q. Especially in the start of the learning process, are you about to create a masterpiece? Chances are no…

A. So why go expensive, grab a big chunk of “straw-board” whack on the undercoat and get started.

1. It’s faster to get started.

2. It’s cheaper.

3. It’s easy to store…

Lets face it even if you do a “masterpiece” on board you will probably be able to copy it in canvas anyway…

Limitations… size, no canvas texture and permanency. Other than that give it a go…

How about another idea, use canvas, but stretch it onto a board of some kind, plywood etc using drawing pins, paint let it dry and hang it using bulldog clips. You want a neater finish? hem the edges on a sewing machine…

Hey what about those cheap Chinese canvases you see in the two dollar shops? are they any good, short answer, no… but if you want cheap and are desperate to paint grab one or twenty and go for gold! some of the sizes are bigger than straw-board so that’s useful. Its cheap but storage becomes the issue (again!)

Remember this… “Make Art Have fun…” (at least some of the time.)

Art Books…

Many artists have produced art books, do a search ont he internet and I am sure you will find some great examples. The idea is simple enough, create some images that are “bound” together and you have a book. some are printed, some a drawings, some include text some are concertina style so that they can stand on their own.

Perhaps pick a theme you want to develop and explore some possibilties for content and presentation.

Artists books often stretch the notion of a book having a cover and standard content the skies the limit!

Investigate and experiment

In the early units of study for art in secondary schools there is an emphasis on investigation and experimentation. The aim being to give you some starting points to creating and looking at art.

One of the big challenges I see with this is the time given to do it in, so often teachers do what they can and hope for the best. If you want to get ahead in the “study stakes” you might find you need to create a whole HEAP of homework for yourself! hey don’t stress out from it, just think of it in terms of “I want to do art and I want to make sure I give it my best shot” so here are a bunch of possible ways to “get ahead” and stay there.

  1. Visit art galleries – An easy option but too many people don’t do it, jump online (oh wait, you are already…) and start googling art galleries in your area and beyond. Go for commercial galleries and make a habit of getting to as many as you can during holidays and weekends. Analyse everything and collect postcards, invites and other information to give you ideas and ways to explore art further. Remember many galleries change the displays every 3 – 4 weeks so know when the next show is on.
  2. Explore a variety of techniques – Example drawing, with pencil, charcoal, crayon, pens, brushes, paint, sticks dipped in paint or ink… Check out art classes offered during holidays and weekends, they may give you access to materials and process you don’t have at school…
  3. Chat to artists – Find ones with websites, there might be a number of local ones you can catch up with, ask them questions, interview them, find out what makes them tick. Then use that information to give yo more starting points.
  4. Use a journal or visual Diary –  Whatever you want to call it, put all your images, drawings, scraps etc in one place, then use it as a resource to explore visual ideas more deeply. Often you can get ideas for new works by flipping through a journal and seeing what images or concepts stand out to you.
  5. Explore creativity – This is not often taught in schools, many teachers may think that students that do art have some special “talent” it’s not always the case. If you have some art ability and you are studying at this level check out as many ways that you can find to be creative, check out lateral thinking, critical thinking, problem solving… do searches on these and other topics to do with the creative process and see what others are doing.
  6. Use words – Okay it’s visual art, so why use words? Well not all of us have a “visual mind” or if we do it may need a break from pictures and words can do that. Words, phrases, poetry, stories, metaphors, all of these can give you creative starting points to work from. One way is to look at writing or mind mapping a bunch of words on a topic and then checking out the connections that may arise from the investigation. Stories might  give you a way to illustrate a theme, it might lead you to writing a story to then illustrate, either way they can be powerful starting points for you.
  7. Ask questions – Chat to people about art, survey them if you like, to find out what their opinions are…  you might be surprised at how much people know… or don’t know about art.

If any or all of the above don’t get you thinking about ways to investigate art further then I’ll eat my hat, you will note that it gives a bunch of starting points to work with that should spark some interest for you at some stage.