The Connection between Emotions & Creativity

Do you consider yourself creative? Many people still believe that there are creative types, and not so creative types. This is an image that is reinforced by ‘creative’ job titles, which put skills and attributes into neat little categories. However, the truth is very different, and we can all be creative, we just need to understand the processes that accompany the creative mind.

We all experience those classic “aha” moments, those light bulb moments of perfect mental clarity. But....

behind that moment is a defined thought process. Most of us use that process to some extent without even realising it. From being taught to skip difficult questions in exams, and to come back to them at the end, to ‘sleeping on’ a problem to let the less conscious parts of your brain work on it while you focus on something else, we all have ways of using our minds creatively.

The reason these approaches work is because while we are engaged in different activities, we are learning new information, some of which helps to fill in the gaps in the knowledge we have about the original problem or question. As we develop this knowledge and fill in the gaps new and better solutions occur to us, and failed solutions are put aside. Much of this occurs on a subconscious level, so when the solution presents itself to our rational, conscious mind, it is like a switch has been suddenly flipped on – hence the light bulb moment.

But, what has this got to do with artistic creativity?

Creativity in this sense works in exactly the same way. You start with the blank canvas or other medium. You have conscious thoughts about what you want to achieve, but how you achieve it comes from your imagination and subconscious mind. While you are thinking about the emotions you want to convey, colours, shapes, lines and materials will occur to you. Your mind is making connections based on the information it has, and the new information that you are feeding it with.

So, for example, you want to express joy. You know what joy means to you, but as you recollect past moments of joy, images come to mind, these are combined with images of future joy that your imagination creates, based on your hope, plans and goals for your future. From all this information come the creative elements that make it to your piece of art.

This is one of the reasons why it is important to make a record of the process of creating a piece of art. The thoughts at each stage show you just as much about yourself, if not more, than the finished piece. It is also worth noting, that when reflecting on the finished piece, you are in a different emotional place than you were at each of the different stages of its creation. This means that your insights and reflections include new information, and are therefore coloured by this new information.