Many parts of this presentation I use in the classroom. I invite students to investigate creativity and inspiration to help better understand themselves and to develop skills that will assist them in visual arts.

The Reader’s Digest on the Brain!

The following is from Betty Edwards, Drawing from the Right Side of the Brain.

Seen from above the brain resembles the halves of a walnut. I will refer to the different halves as the left mode and the right mode (Yes, science people, this is really simplified!). The different sides of the brain control different functions. The left mode is usually the dominate side and is considered so due to the fact that it controls speech and language.

The right mode has been described as the subordinate or minor hemisphere. Both sides work together.

The left mode & right mode characteristics

Left Mode Right Mode
Verbal: Uses words to name,
defines, describe
Nonverbal: Uses nonverbal cognition’s to process perceptions
Analytical: Step by step Synthetic: Form wholes
Symbolic: Uses symbols to
stand for something
Actual, Real: Relating to things as
they are; in the moment
Temporal: Tracks time Non-temporal: Time free zone, in
the flow
Rational: draws conclusions based on reason/facts Non-rational: Willingness to suspend
Logical: Uses analytical and
rational  processes
Intuitive: Making leaps of faith
Linear: Ideas follow one after
the other
Holistic See the whole, not the parts
Digital: Uses numbers for
counting, Such as time

As an artist, I would seem to fall into the ‘right brain’ mode, and when people find out I am a painter, it isn’t unusual for a person to say to me that they aren’t creative. So that leads to the question, is creativity (right brain thinking) limited to a “type” of person or field?

Creativity and creative thinking can be found in all fields, not limited to the arts. For example, the stereotype that engineers mainly are analytical, left-brainers!  Here’s an example that refutes this stereotype.

Apollo 13

The following are excerpts from the article, 13 Things That Saved Apollo 13
by Nancy Atkinson.

Most of you are aware of the ill-fated Apollo 13. When completing a routine task, a switch flipped to conduct a “stir” of the O2 tank, there was an explosion of an oxygen tank in the Command and Service Module. The damage was extensive and life-threatening.

Here was the challenge

There were two round lithium hydroxide canisters in the LM, able to provide filtering for two men for two days,” said NASA engineer Jerry Woodfill. “With the trip back to Earth at least four days in length, and three men on board, the carbon dioxide content of the cabin air would rise to poisonous levels, and the crew would expire without a solution.”

Each canister had a life span of approximately 24 hours with two men on board. Since there were now three men, the canister life would be somewhat shortened.

“While there were plenty of filters in the Command Module, these were square and wouldn’t fit in the LM barrel,” Woodfill said. “Without some kind of unusual miracle of making a square peg fit into a round hole the crew would not survive.”

The experts in the MER had 24 hours to deal with the challenge and solve the problem.

It’s all in the duct tape!

Using only the type of equipment and tools the crew had on board –including plastic bags, cardboard, suit hoses, and duct tape — Ed Smylie, who oversaw NASA’s crew systems division, and his team conceived a configuration that just might work.

The biggest challenge was attaching the hose into a funnel-like device having a small round inlet hole for the suit hose and a much larger square outlet attached and surrounding the square filter.

“Then the thought came, ‘Use cardboard log book covers to support the plastic,” said Woodfill. “It worked! But more importantly, they had to figure out how the funnel could be fashioned to prevent leaking.

Of course…the solution to every conceivable knotty problem has got to be duct tape!

That’s what I call creativity! On the surface, it might be a knee jerk response to think of folks in fields like engineering as left-brainers who lack creativity, but that would be a great injustice.

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