Blue Fairies by the Canal
I walked this morning along the unused canal near my home. Hovering alongside the water were many many tiny damselflies. These little creatures are only around 3cm long – tiny, delicate, like little blue flecked fairies. As I studied them with their framework-like wings and iridescent cerulean blue markings I wondered at such things that people and children might never notice or even know of. There is something heartening about discovering the beauty in nature that gives a sense of lightness to any moment.
What About The Garden Snail?
The damselflies are surely things of beauty and colour but nature does not have to be so showy to bring an uplifting moment. Even in our inner cities there is reward for paying attention to nature while in the park or a tiny garden where shiny beetles, spiders weaving, and hopping Robins will reveal themselves, although you have to focus somewhat to feel that awe. And keep the phone off.
So how about the common snail? I think that the difficult bit for a lot of us is the actual act of being still and allowing these moments to unfold, this includes me of course. Also we have to overcome some assumptions. Take the common garden snail. We know what they look like and they are kind of annoying when they are chomping on the hostas and other prize garden plants, so why on earth bother to pay any attention to one?
Here is a snail on my garden pot. This is surely an amazing feat for a design’ the snail shell and not the pot of course 🙂
The Golden Section
The shell coils clockwise from the centre like most snail shells do. This is a logarithmic spiral meaning the distances between turns in the spiral increases in geometric progress. The formula for this is the Golden Section. It is used to approximate good composition in creating images. Using this ratio helps to construct pictures which are pleasing to the eye. Nature uses this ratio or rule in all sorts of examples – the approach of a hawk to its prey, the construction of the eye’s cornea, the centre of a sunflower, galaxies and so on. There are some good examples and explanation of the golden ratio in nature by GEORGE DVORSKY on this blog.
This may have all got a bit technical, rather the point I was trying to make was about looking at the pattern of the snail shell and seeing how it is both beautiful and remarkable it really is.
If you slow down and stop for a while, and take a good close look around you, even if in the most unlikely of places you will surely be amazed.
You often hear of artists heading off to the coast to get away from it all and give their creativity space and time and to further render their craft. Each year we drive to the Welsh coast, and I pop my transportable art equipment into my bag ready to grab all that inspiration that is about to descend upon me. A day or two would go by and with all the organising that went on before the holiday there is not much more to do than make sure kids were occupied and that the ready prepared meal was defrosting. By this time I am wondering why I am not using my sketchbook or getting out the watercolours. Over the years I have made a few nice informal drawings and paintings but the truth be known my creativity evaporates on holiday. Perhaps it is because I am not a landscape painter or just because the heart of my creativity is figurative and so the quiet coastal locations we choose just don’t rock my creative boat. But then surely I would still be brimming with ideas?
More likely then I am suffering from a form of writers block with all that leisure time. Perhaps it is because an example of the theory that when you do nothing in order to focus on being creative it then hides away in an inaccessible corner of your mind, waiting until you start to hoover or cut the hedge whereupon ideas will pop up effortlessly knowing you have not got a notebook to hand! This post relates to content in a post that I made in June called Accessing Your Creativity Whilst Watching TV? which describes how the brain prefers to be occupied with undemanding tasks in order to be able to explore different avenues. So instead of chasing my creativity into a corner by relaxing, I will be encouraging it out with a mundane task or two when I am back at home. And as for my holiday I have found I can quite happily write for my blog ready to post when I get back. As for the rest of the time it is fresh air, sea walks and sunshine.
My breakfast last week!
Chewing the Pencil or More Washing Up?
Sometimes it feels hard to be creative and other times it comes quite easily. The barometer for this may be the number of teeth marks in the pencil end as you sit there chomping away with not very much else happening. I recently saw a program by the BBC where it was surmised that mundane tasks or doing something that requires minimal thinking like taking a shower, or washing up allows the brain to be more creative. Whilst solving a creative problem or trying to come up with new ideas or solutions a mundane task allows the brain to meander around the thousands of kilometres of connections. Under pressure to be on task to do a job in hand, whilst sitting chewing the pencil in an attempt to be creative, forces the brain to concentrate and fast forward on the most direct route to the supposed answer, without paying attention to any other possible junctions along the way. In this instance if no solution comes to mind this presumably is the equivalent of writers block. In its simplest form less brain efficiency means more creativity.
Barely Legible……but A Good Reason to Watch TV
I subscribe to this theory as ideas come more readily to me when I am watching TV in the evenings and I will just scribble them down for another time. Of course I do not mean whilst watching a film where it is critical to pay attention, and definitely not where subtitles are concerned! Even if the ideas are hardly legible, they at least have been captured and logged ready to work on properly in the morning. In the morning the need for that elusive idea forming creativity gives way to a more strategic approach and putting the idea to good use. Here the brain can concentrate fully and hopefully without too much distraction (except for the odd blog write up of course!).
BBC Article – Five Ways To Be More Creative