Saturday, November 13, 2010

Right brain time loss - more on the creative process

I remember the very first time I took up a brush to watercolor paint here at the house, alone.  Mom had given me a lesson and I came home all excited to try out her ideas.  I had thought I'd spend an hour or two at the most.  I had everything all set up, knew what I was going to paint and set about painting.  I started at 8:30 am that day.

When I felt like I was finished enough that I could stop and take a break, I looked at my watch and it was 6:00 pm!!!  I was completely shocked!  I had not eaten, I wasn't even hungry.  I hadn't put down the brush, stopped for a potty break....anything at all.  I hadn't noticed that the sun was setting.  And it literally scared the crap out of me!  I told myself that I couldn't paint if this is how it was going to be.  I couldn't "afford" to lose an entire day of my life like that!

And then I read the book "Drawing on the Right Side of Your Brain" by Betty Edwards.

The left brain is logical, sequential, rational, analytical, objective, looks at parts.  We look at clocks, we have schedules, we have "to-do" lists, we have appointments, we read, write, do math. Most of us work and live in the left brain.

My left brain says I have to work in an organized area.  When I really get creative, I expand by setting up additional tables!

So I put all the stuff on that empty table, work on the table below which is right in front of me

and stay connected to the outside world via skype, email and FB posts:

The right brain is random, intitive, holistic, synthesizing, subjective, looks at wholes.  Sings, dances, ignores time, forgets appointments, doesn't wear a watch.  The right brain automatically mixes and matches colors, places shadows and highlights where needed in the creative process.

So the right brain doesn't really care about the mess...that's the left brain!

The left brain analyzes if the colors are a good match, if the shadows are in the right position.  So I pull out all my mint and pink paper and pile them up:

And I pull out all the matching ribbons and pile them up!

We work with both sides of the brain, but some of us allow one side or the other to have dominance.

I know that I was very left brained my entire life.  I worked for the federal government.  I could never have survived using the right side of my brain.

But being retired, who needs a clock?  Who needs an alarm, a schedule, a "to-do" list?  I've had the freedom to step over into the right side of my brain for unlimited periods of time.  I've also learned how to get there....and get back out so that I don't lose an entire day of my life (well not as much as I used to!)

But there's a process and it takes time, sometimes it's actually a struggle, to step from the left side to the right side of the brain.  I find that when I first start to "play", I'm pretty rigid.  I want things to be symetrical, clean, linear.

and while many would like that, it's just not me!  But as I get more and more into my "play", I start to losen up.  I think it's because my brain slips back and forth between left and right and the longer it stays in the right side, the more creative I can become.  But I have to prompt myself along the way.  I will do exercises like standing up and shaking my shoulders, arms and hands....trying to sluff off the stiffness of the left brain.  I force myself to add shapes and color....and my results do improve:

But I'm still not where I want to be and I know it.  So I continue to add layers, ink things, paint things, add color, add tags, flowers, buttons, clips, trim.....and I know that my right brain is starting to kick in because I automatically know if I like something or if I don't.  And while this is getting even's like I'm warming up for a swimming match...but I'm a tad bit afraid to put my head under water!  LOL!

When the right brain finally kicks's amazing!  I know exactly what I need to do, where to put things, how to layer them up, what needs more ink, what needs paint to tone down the ink, what needs less color....

And no, I haven't even started with the diecuts yet, the labels are all handcut. If you click on the photo to enlarge it, you can see that I'm layering tea-dyed felt with paper.  Truly gives it a vintage look.  Remember how "pink" this paper was a few days ago?  Amazing what you can do!!

Who would know this next one is an envelope?  Yep, the top tab folds down under "wonderful you".  My left brain absolutely adores this one and the right brain just layered it all together without even thinking. When the left brain took a look, it saw butterflies and flowers in a snow scene.  Is that not just wonderful?  The little circle at the bottom says "inspire".  The 2 little vintage girls in the snow.  I still don't have an overall theme for the journal, but I think I'm getting there.  

It could be how "wonderful you"......all my wonderful friends, my family, how they all inspire me.  Or....this could be a place where I tuck notes about how wonderful "you" are....that "you" being a specific person who has had an impact on my life!

I think the idea of butterflies, flowers and hearts in the middle of winter, using mint and pink papers - normally a spring theme, but shades of Red and Green from the holiday season - adding snow and cold, just the overall complexity of it could represent the overall complexity of life.  I'll have to let the left side of my brain ponder that a bit longer!

So, you can see that while it is possible to teach the brain to go from left to right side can be hard.  Some people can make the switch in 2 seconds. Not me. It's a process.  But it usually doesn't take more than an hour or two.  OK, so maybe it takes a day or 2 if I really stop to think about the last couple of days!  All I know is that it does happen.  And when I get in the right side of my brain, I truly love the results that get produced!

Gotta wonder what tomorrow will bring!  Will I wake up in the left or right side of my brain?  And how does all this work with the healing power of art?  Stay tuned!!!


madelineas said...

WOW Jen, that is just baffling. But I think you have something there. Love the tag with the girls in the snow. Can't wait to see what tomorrow brings

Anonymous said...

I really am jealous of your ability to move from one side to the other. It is really hard for me. Perhaps you should patent this secret and sell it for a big (gross) profit. Or, I can hope some of the ability rubs off on me.
I know, I can dream.