Creativity Meets Technical Know-How

Creative types spend a large part of their lives developing ideas that float to the surface of cognition.  They come from outside and inside, from moments of awareness, dreams, travels, or during over- long operas (in the case of this creative type.) Childhood impressions  can seed our creative lives.

One of my favorite painters, Una Woodruff, recalls her young self studying designs in her mother’s old Persian carpets. Una now owns these carpets and their patterns appear in her “Carpet" paintings. These larger works use flowers, berries, carpet-eating moths, grasses and leaves  to reflect the geometry of a Persian rug.  At the same time,  humor and found objects such as fossils, farthings, pottery, and buttons are just a few of the hidden elements in these glorious paintings. 

The presence of wind, toadstools, and butterflies add to the natural mystery of the work.. 

Creativity in professional life is not limited to artists.  When I worked in the pharmaceutical industry, I saw creativity's existence in the scientific research for new drug development. I see it in doctors solving complex medical problems, lawyers creating new approaches to difficult cases, and others finding simple solutions to everyday problems. The essence of creativity is giving voice to relationships that did not exist before.  That’s why when people tell me they are “not creative,” I never believe them.

As I have moved along in my career, I have come to revere technical mastery of one’s art form as a means to infuse life into creative musings.

What looks "Carpet Moths" by Una Woodruff. Watercolor. simple as a finished product takes huge swaths of time and grit.  Over time, the skill-building grit eventually gets polished into technical mastery, giving the creator full voice. I offer Una's work as an example of complete mastery of watercolor paints,  usually a runaway medium. In Una's case, paints are applied with photographic precision. Una never loses her focus, though, because this technique reveals  the spirit of her compositions. This is what blew me away over 25 years ago, when I first saw her work in a London gallery.

When someone marries a creative idea with technical mastery of their medium, "move the ball forward" artistically by revealing new ways to appreciate our world or solve a problem. 


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