First, thank you to Hilda Rogers who reached out with a comment on last week’s post. She suggests that ideas start with emotion. Before her comment, I was all set to jump into choosing a photo and sketching but this made me take a step back.
I began to think of ideas as seeds that grow into something more. Seeds need soil and water, a place of nurture to trigger the process of growth. This metaphor tickled at my mind all week.
I asked a friend about this topic. Her mind immediately connected inventors to the concept of ideas but that is only one kind of idea/result. So I decided to limit myself to where creative ideas begin.
In my professional life I teach personal communication skills to corporate teams. The work is based on a personality temperament theory called Personality Dimensions. One thing I know from this work is that what is true for me may not be true for someone else because they begin with a different style preference from differing core values.
For instance, I’m what is called an Authentic Blue. What nurtures many of my ideas are the values of connection with others and helping. I ask questions like “How do I feel about that? How can I share it? What do I want others to feel?” The questions are deeply rooted in connection and grow into ideas and actions that reach outwards.
My Blue style is followed extremely closely by Resourceful Orange which shows up as a love of freedom and variety. Because they’re so close, I tend to move between the two styles quite seamlessly. It especially shows up in the studio as I move from paint to fibre to needlework to writing and back again. I’m always up to learn something new. Those values nurture questions that sound like “What do I want to learn this week? What haven’t I tried yet? What do I feel like doing?” These questions are grounded in curiosity and grow into slightly different ideas and actions.
An Organized Gold style values tradition and organization. They also value family and society so their ideas are often motivated by contribution. My husband is Gold and his creativity looks like cooking (as a Gold, he always follows the recipe), model railroading (in the steam tradition) and gardening (no cottage gardens for him though.) I think I can safely speak for him when I say satisfaction at following the rules, honouring tradition and contribution are the fertile ground of his ideas.
The fourth style is Inquiring Green. They value knowledge and competence. Their creativity has a very practical side which we usually name “innovation”. Greens look for the problem to be solved so this is the most likely style of my friend’s inventors.
We all have all of these styles so you can’t really pigeon hole anyone but it’s a framework that helped me think about the genesis of creative ideas and how they relate to values and emotions.
Seeds and results.
I promised to share the outer manifestation of what I’m actually doing while I’m thinking about all this so here are the two new paintings I began this week. The first was rooted in longing for summer and green spaces. The second showed up in the moment and was my emotional response to beauty.
I spent time at the Shannon River canoe launch last summer, sketching and taking photos. So while I made my choices of photos, I paid attention to what was drawing me to this particular subject. What was the root of the idea?
I realized this place made me feel connected to something bigger than me and after spending time there, I left with a deep inner peace. After 4 weeks of winter storms, painting this scene will give me a boost until the weather improves. I also want to share that emotional response to nature with the viewer.
The second painting was the result of a video call with a friend. The sun on her face made such beautiful highlights and shadows that I immediately want to paint this and share it with her if it turns out. We stopped our conversation for a moment so I could snap some photos.
The emotions of connection and affection were the genesis of the idea but it also appeals to my Orange values by taking on the challenge of a portrait. I’ve done lots of pencil portraits but never in paint.