If Spring Was Season of Creativity, What, Then Is Summer?

It’s Summertime! Generally, we all think of summer as starting on June 1 and going through August 31. Summer 2018 actually started June 21, the Summer Solstice, our longest day of the year.

What the heck does summer have to do with our creativity, anyway? Are we inspired because of the summer rains, weary of the intense heat, but relaxed and excited about our vacations?

Or do we hit our creativity pause buttons because of all these? Summer Time is supposed to be Fun Time, isn’t it? Isn’t creativity synonymous with fun?

Well, let’s step back a bit, shall we. My friend, Felix Scardino, LCSW, sends out a regular message at least once a quarter about various insights on creativity and the mind, art and psychology. In a message a few months ago, Felix referred to Thomas Merton reminding us that in Winter, plants appear dead, yet within them are resources that lead to new life. Spring thus bursts forth with color and growth, a season of creativity.

Season of Creativity

According to Felix, Spring can remind you not to jump to dire conclusions when all seems lost, when you can’t see much in your future, or when you feel that your reserves have dried up.

He notes that our resources for new ideas and insights are often so hidden that our lives look like dead branches, and we’ll begin to see shoots of life and hope, which usher us into our Spring.

Are we suppressing any feelings, hiding insights, feeling weary about expression? What of our hidden voice? Isn’t it time to feel alive again, to, as Felix puts it, allow what lives inside of us to come out?

Assuming we have done this during these past few months, can we presume that a new, refreshed mode of thought and creativity is taking shape within us for the summer months?

If so, what creative shape becomes us?

Summer: ‘Tis the Season of the Mind at Play?

In an article in KOSMOS, journal for global transformation, authors Jorge N. Ferrer, Marina T. Romero and Ramon V. Albareda discuss how creativity in academia is similar to our seasons.

In Summer, some flowers have matured into fruits and some of those fruits become ripe. It is the season of harvest, celebration, sharing, and gratitude. It is also a time to rest, to peacefully contemplate the new seeds contained in the fruits, and to plan another cycle for the following Autumn. In the creative process, the ‘fruits’ represent the ideas or expressions selected for further elaboration and refinement.

Summer is the season of the mind—a time for the intellectual and aesthetic elaboration of ideas. It is also time to open oneself to the many wonders, possibilities, and joys of summer, which can now expand and stimulate the mind with insights that can refine those fruitful ideas. That kinda sounds like f-u-n.

There is, however, nothing that says we can’t allow ourselves to be open to things year-round. Dialoging with others about one’s ideas in order to polish them, and putting those ideas into writing or other expressive means is a natural progression of the creative process whether or not this is done during summer. Yet, Summertime does present some unique characteristics and qualities.

 

Summer-Play

Borrowed from Felix’s Summer Email Message – thanks, Felix!

It is usually a more relaxed time during which the mind can indeed play with its surroundings and explore possibilities, if we let it.

Curiosity is a wonderful attribute of creativity, and summer’s playground lends a world of potential ideas to the curious. Take time to play and be curious (always). Let your mind reignite and stimulate your passion. We owe it to ourselves.

However, therein lies the problem. Playing. We’re forgetting how to do it and we, both children AND adults, are not doing it enough.

In his recent “Summer Email,” Felix refers to research scientist Dr. Stuart Brown, who states that a chance to beef up your intuitive skills, improve your relationships and refine your ability to solve problems are a few of the benefits of play he writes about in his book, Play: How it Sharpens the Brain, Opens the Imagination, and Invigorates the Soul.  
As Felix points out, play is a certain purposelessness, spontaneity, abandon, and openness to experience-as well as relaxed movement. The more you infuse your work with these playful traits, the more creative and innovative the result.

 

Some theorists even suggest that the opposite of play is not work but depression! I can understand this point. Like millions of us, I suffer from depression, and lack of play. Summers used to be full of play and excitement: Golf and boating and water skiing. Seems life a couple of lifetimes ago!

As the seasons bring about different senses to the body – cold in winter, hot in summer – so, too, does the mind reflect these various feelings. One’s creative passion may run very differently when confronting a robust fireplace with a hot toddy compared to how one feels while sinking one’s toes in the sand at the beach on July 4th.

Both are valuable and resourceful experiences in our creative process. This is Summer Time, so take time to enjoy and let your minds play and explore. New dimensions within your own creativity lie ahead, waiting to be realized. As they are, our creative shapes evolve.

Relax. Summer’s heat may have you sweating and thirsting for coolness, but you have plenty of time before the fire will need stoking and the toddy heated.

 

 

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Images: Potent Portraits of Creative Expression

Images have a way of striking our emotions. Creativity is fueled. Emotions are stoked.

Some folks get upset, angry, sad. Others become calm, excited, enthusiastic, joyful.

Shock, horror, puzzlement, admiration.

Some find peace while others find fear. Art and photography have a way of doing this. Museums and art galleries tend to bring these feelings out in all of us.

These past few months I’ve come across a variety of different images, different ways of conveying creativity. Since that’s what this blog is all about, I thought I’d share  a taste of what I’ve viewed.

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“Pamela’s Voice” in Night Gallery

The Museum of Fine Arts Houston, The Guggenheim Museum in New York, and, yes, even Rod Serling’s Night Gallery in your mind are fine examples of artistic and creative expression. Those of you outside the U.S. who may not be familiar with Mr. Serling may find this rather intriguing regarding the paintings featured in his Night Gallery.

 

A few weeks ago I wrote about a summer conference I attended at Houston’s Jung Center on Imagination. As they often do, the Center featured several paintings on display at that time. A few caught my eye for one reason or another. If you’d like more information about these images, please contact The Jung Center.

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“Chaos” – Margaret Wheeler (Grami)

I was struck by the vibrant colors immersed onto a dark background, but with areas of white and yellow stubbornly bursting through. I thought, “Chaos, indeed, but in a quiet, peaceful setting.”

 

 

 

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“Rising” – Kutani Village, Japan – Roy Spann

 

I just thought this was a neat photograph. Then, the more I looked at it, I thought . . . “Hmmmm, umbrellas in variety of colors . . . would make an interesting ad for Travelers Insurance.”

 

 

 

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“Protector” – Tamer Ghoneim

This reminded me of some very cool abstract art that Apple may have for a screen saver, very vibrant in colors – you can’t take your eyes off it. I couldn’t. It’s actually a photo print on metal.

 

 

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Part of the Vanzant Driver presentation, “The Street of Heaven Was As Glass”

 

Vanzant’s discussion was intriguing on “The Visionary Imagination” alongside Jay Wehnert. This illustration was one of several artistic expressions presented that challenged the “boundaries of the imagination.”

These next two images below were not part of the Jung Center’s exhibit, but two very different photographs that caught my eye.

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Iconic Statue on the Notre Dame campus

This first one was sent to me from the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, IN as part of a Thank You for supporting the university.

It captures one of the iconic statues on campus during Winter with the Golden Dome peaking out from the background. Note the areas of snow  acting as “winter eyebrows.”

This second one was an ad I saw in a publication, Arts+Culture, based in Dallas, Texas. It’s one fine publication covering the arts and culture scene in Texas.

The photo immediately captured my attention because I wasn’t sure if I saw what I thought I saw: A young girl “shooting the bird.” Then I read the caption: “A little rebellion now and then is a good thing.” Thomas Jefferson said that and I’m inclined to agree.

Little girl gesturing

“Nic Noblique – Sculptor” – photo of Azo by her mom, Audra Sewell Noblique.

The ad is for Nic Noblique -Sculptor. When I emailed Nic for permission to run the ad featuring his daughter, he told me the ad had received quite a few comments and he’d gotten good response from it. The photo, taken a few years ago when Azo was seven (she’s now 12), afforded their daughter the opportunity to flip the bird and “get it out of her system.”

I applaud both Nic and his wife Audra, not to mention their daughter, for having the guts to run an ad like this, and Arts+Culture Magazine for having the maturity to approve it for publication.

Art is a very subjective medium. Advertising can be as well. Both can be perplexing. As varied as our society is today, so are the images we confront.

Kudos to the creatives and artists who continue to push the envelope with taste and style and who entice our imagination and intrigue our minds.

And a thank you to those museums and galleries who think enough of the contributions to our collective, creative universe to exhibit and publish these works.

To the creators, go the spoils.

To the viewers, go the enjoyment.

To everyone, onward. Create!

The Future of Advertising?

Ever tried to predict the future? Not easy, is it?

I don’t know if this article comes close but it is an interesting read. Dax Hamman, Chief Product Officer, Rubicon Project, did a nice job with it.

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The future of advertising may take many forms, some of which may not even be known to us at present – wait, let me jump into my time travel Shuttlecraft (on loan from Star Fleet) and I’ll get back with you.

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Until then, the publishers of Rubicon have put together an intriguing read in this their 2016 Biannual Issue, The Programmatic Mind.

Whatchathink?

Well, for one thing, how will advertisers get consumers to pay attention to ads if when we all live in an era of super-saturation? The author states we start by using information as advertising – using data available to us in order to make our ads as relevant as possible so the consumer has no choice but to pay attention.

Hmmmm, I thought that’s what we try and do everyday . . . now. That’s what smart creativity is supposed to do. Let’s face it, cutesy only goes so far! Mr. Hamman further states “. . . that elegant design won’t be enough if your ads are not providing valuable information.” That’s true.

I agree with the author when he says the future of advertising is full of tremendous promise. It’s also full of a whole bunch of challenges and subsequent responsibilities. Information overload will, I think, be even more so than it is today.

Still, consumers are a fickle bunch; they’re also quite intelligent and can certainly discern an ad that makes sense, is relevant and interesting. Our future world will most likely be more intense, with more information, quite problematic, more programmatic and probably more “anything-atic.”

Oh, boy, pass the Excedrin!

Since you folks will undoubtedly have a thought or two on this subject and the article, pro and con, let me know. Don’t be bashful. There’s plenty of Excedrin for all of us.

Wake Up Stupid and Stay That Way

Some of us may sense that we have no problem doing this; it comes naturally.

But there is a more serious aspect to this cute little title. It goes to one’s frame of mind.

Be open to anything today, any day. Don’t have preconceived notions about what’s going to happen.

I know – that’s easier said than done.

Listen more than you talk. For some of us, this really is a problem.

Observe and absorb.

Ask questions. Get clarity.

Ask more questions. Refine. Reflect. Reshape.

Now, see what you can discover.

Creativity Tip #109

Establish your Inner Sanctuary – This is about using your mind and exploiting your imagination to enhance your creativity. According to my friend Felix Scardino during an imagery workshop, we all have a safe haven – in our mind. It’s an atmosphere you create, and you can add or change it anytime you wish.

It may be an actual place you’ve been to before or it may be one you’ve made up.  You can go there anytime, and just being there might spark your creativity, so let your imagination go.

Try this exercise: Get a blank sheet of paper and a writing utensil. Close your eyes and think of a favorite, relaxing place in which you feel very secure and comfortable. Once there, what are you seeing . . . sensing. . .  feeling. . .  touching. . .  experiencing? Have you been here before? Are you the only one here? If not, who else is here?

When you think you have a handle on where you are and what you’re experiencing, open your eyes and start writing whatever your mind tells you. Don’t over analyze this and try not to think too hard. Let your mind do the writing. Do this for about three minutes.

As a follow up practice, once you have your safe haven established, acquaint yourself with either your Aide or your Braintrust.  They reside in your imagination and can be called upon anytime. Your Aide is your confidante. He/she is what you make him/her.  Maybe he’s Uncle Fred or a composite of several folks. After all, it’s your imagination.

The Braintrust is comprised of your heroes, people you trust or who you find interesting. They can change on every visit; that’s up to you. They can be gathered together whenever you want, inside your safe haven. Take your problem or question to them and listen for what they say.