Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Featured Painting of the Day.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Featured Painting of the Day.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Creativity and a Correlation with Mental Illness? Doubtful!

   CNN’s reporter Elizabeth Landau recently wrote an article about the perceived correlation between creativity and mood disorders being discussed by some research psychologists. They are thinking and saying mental illnesses, especially “bipolar disorders and depression” are connected to highly creative people. If you are an artist you may object to being called an excessively ruminating or reflective, and, therefore, depressed--or that you have a predilection towards mental illness.

   Regardless of the research, I would like to convince you that the one variable, i.e., being creative may not be a good one to study. In fact, if it were removed from the research completely, and the individuals used in the study were reexamined, I would suspect that other more convincing common depression causing characteristics might be uncovered. Not being a psychologist myself, I can only assume that there are hundreds of accepted  correlating factors, such as abuse, neglect, poverty, physical illness, or childhood abandonment, to name a few. Why?

  1. Creativity Is Part of Our Inherited Human Makeup.

   Other mitigating factors aside, my first argument is that creativity is not expressed only in art or even artistic endeavors alone. I believe everyone is creative and is born with a storehouse of creativity as part of their inherited human makeup.

   Those who have expressed their creative side traditionally, i.e., those who really choose the artistic life are often observed with a scant tilt to the eye. Why?--because people often wonder why anyone would choose to live in poverty just to do what they love. In other words, many people know that they have artistic talents but not only find it impossible to financially support themselves with their art, but the idea to try to them is distasteful or stupid. So is the entire notion of reflection or rumination—to them computer games are more fun.

   Are these people as a group somehow mentally more sound than artists as a group? Are they happier? Are their untapped storehouses of creativity important to the rest of society? Do they care?

2. Do The Non-Artistic Hear An Adult From The Past?

   Second, many, many people who do not express themselves creatively are afraid of criticism or rejection and, therefore, may be exactly of the same ruminating ilk as those who do. But who would admit that to a psychologist and how would they be included in the study? Paul Verhaeghen, associate professor of psychology at Georgia Institute of Technology says, as reported in this CNN article,

"If you think about stuff in your life and you start thinking about it again, and again, and again, and you kind of spiral away in this continuous rumination about what's happening to you and to the world -- people who do that are at risk for depression,” …

   I believe that most people who have not expressed their creative treasure, hear an adult from their past. And as time goes on, and he or she reaches adulthood, they shy more and more away from attempting anything artistic. They are the ones who start thinking about what happened in the past and rethink it again, and again, and again, and…and kind of spiral away in [a] continuous rumination of fear and paralysis.

   How many people in a group believe themselves to be non artistic or uncreative and suffer from the same thought patterns? Ask those non-artistic people what they learned from someone else--that something was either correct or incorrect according to some accepted critical analysis—i.e, something that the average person does not fully understand or accept.

   I am always interested in opinions about art, but no matter how revered the source, the real issue is, that no one is God or a true authority on the value of anyone’s creative output. It’s a matter of trends, fads, education, prejudice, and a hundred other factors that become the norm of the moment. The truth is that all creative expressions are just as they should be because they are a reflection of the internal spirit in each of us.

   But when people are taught that something is excellent because it projects a specific technically correct artistic outcome, they suppose that it if they cannot replicate the same technique, they are not good at art. They hear that the sunlight is shining through at the wrong angle or the perspective and composition are unappealing. One friend told me that in first grade, her teacher looked over her shoulder when she was using crayons and said, “Color it solid.” My friend had no idea what solid meant when she was six years old. It terrified her. She never attempted to draw or paint and truly believed herself incapable.

   Think about those people who believe they are not creative or artistic. How do you analyze their depression over their sense of failure and inability to be happy with the fun side or artistic activities? What kind of analysis do they need, when forty years later they are still thinking about the D they were given in art because they didn’t crayon inside the lines, or couldn’t draw the cat that the teacher drew on a flip chart?

   Think of the so-called non artistic people whose parents took away the pictures they drew and redrew them to meet their own standards? How many kids in grade school were made fun of by their friend’s because of their color combinations? When you were a child were you stunned when someone said, “A redhead should never wear the color pink or red?

3. What Percentage of Adults Who Could Be Creative Are Limited by Endless Chores?

   Many people in our society are up to their noodles in responsibilities and work. They cannot even take a few moments a week to explore their God given desire to make something out of nothing. When I grew up I was surrounded by fathers and mothers who had nothing of the material advantages of this generation. And yet, I saw fathers who made Christmas trees out of twigs and tin foil or who built miniature tool cabinets from nothing but a picture in the mind. There were mothers who created double sided aprons for their children without patterns or created new dishes and recipes for local fairs with nothing more than a keen palate. These were people who were reflective and especially ruminating. But then, there weren’t thousands of technical gadgets and inclinations toward time consuming media. It was a time when people could use their imaginations. Times are different now, good or bad and ordinary ruminations may be a thing of past generations.

4. There Is More to Brilliant Creativity Than Painting a Picture, etc.

   Another point--creativity is a hugely under-acknowledged phenomena. Is the person who sits at the loom, following a pattern artistic? Most will say no. But if the person reframes the loom to be more effective or efficient, especially if it is done in a way that allows for experimentation, then that person is creative.

   This type of creativity is part and parcel to almost any job in this extraordinarily innovative country. We in the United States are, typically, not hell bent on ritual and static thinking. This country has thrived on thousands of different types of creativity, and especially, the kinds that demand a great deal of internal thought, analysis, and reflection—and especially rumination. Our history is one of originality, experimentation, advancement, and renewal. Are all of such people depressed or mentally ill? Some are but from a large population of them, more are probably not. And if they suffer a mental illness, such as a Howard Hughes, aren’t there other, as noted above, mitigating variables that make more sense?

   Many people in this country have not learned how to use or express their creative abilities. We are not a Bali, as noted in the article below, i.e., being artistic is not universal. Typically, people in this country do not treasure art or pay for it and its dismissal, can of course, be depressing for any starving artist. Those who have been financially successful may, as noted earlier, have many other mitigating factors that contribute to mental instability.

   It may be more interesting to research the mental stability of those who perceive their art as good and worthy and those who don’t and why. Or it might be more interesting to research the mental stability of a large group of depressed patients who say they are creative against an otherwise similar group of people who are also depressed and say they are not creative.

   I think the study should be reevaluated with the creation;>) of a creativity chart. Hundreds of people should be interviewed to discover their internal definition of creativity. Then they should be asked if they think they offer creative moments to others in their lives. Then they should be asked if they would equate their own sense of creativity to that of a painter, sculptor, musician, etc. You might be surprised with the totality of creativity and artistic endeavors of most of the population…and yes, I would include a mother’s attempt at inexpensive Halloween costumes.

   P.S. Most the artists I know could clean the healthy attitude clock of those who think them a little off!


10/15/2008 © Laura Joyce Moriarty

Featured Painting of the Day.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Love the Space You Are In!

Nothing is more peculiar to your sensibilities than someone else’s wild passion for a particular piece of art while you find it boring--or even distasteful. Why, if one person just drools over a Picasso, another would sell it at a garage sale, [if ignorant of the value of course.] Just sit in any art museum for a few hours and watch people’s faces as they pass by various types of art and you can read the most obvious expressions. They are instant, easily deciphered, incredibly unpredictable, and very lively. 

Even children tend to take in art in very specific ways, regardless of their age. When my son was three, I took him to the Phillips Collection in Washington DC, and noticed how very serious his expression was as he took in a wide range of pieces. He seemed to be a big fan of impressionism, a little unimpressed with any still life, but when we passed a Mondrian, I will never forget his surprising remark to me, “Mom that’s not art at all.”  

Agree or not, art is definitely a very personal thing and it either moves a person to a comfortable place or fails to impress. There is a very specific reason for this and that is that all aspects of a person’s taste are unique and complex.  The passion for the things a person loves to have around and that reflect that person’s style, taste, demeanor and more, comes not only from one’s rearing and education but from deep inside each person’s soul.  

Test out the theory on your own sometime. If you go into someone’s home and they tend to dismiss their furniture or art in their surroundings, ask that person why he or she thinks it’s so disagreeable, and you will hear comments like, “I really liked this table and chair set when I bought it, but look at my dining room; it’s so boring—it’s just brown and white and I have no idea how to change it. I tried some dried flowers to give it color, but they looked cheap.” Another person might say, “I have no taste; everyone has always told me that, so I guess it’s true.” Well it’s not true, it’s just a taste that has not been elicited. 

In some instances, people’s interior designs are inadequate because they don’t have the time or the money to construct the right environment for themselves. Hence, the popularity of many furniture stores that sell full room ensembles. And even those are short lived successes, for people tire of the prearranged settings, often wondering why they no longer like something that they spent so much money on. The reason for this is because much more personal effort must be invested to reflect the uniqueness of a person’s soul and make them feel truly at home.  

With a little help, that deep down love of certain colors or a particular design can be elicited and a person’s surrounding can then be easily repaired and really excite the inner spirit each time he or she enters a room. As art and design are explained further, you will learn how to accomplish what you want within your own environment, be it a home, office, or building.  

ADLJM   Page 6   8/29/2008 © Laura Joyce Moriarty

Monday, October 13, 2008

Featured Painting of the Day.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Today’s Lesson: Creativity Saves Lives!


In today's uncertain financial environment, unforeseen changes and disruptions in your life are inevitable. Providing for your family and your future are suddenly compromised by the activities of those at levels of income and power that have nothing to do with you or anyone you know. You often feel like you have been thrust into a den of lions and just want to scream with anxiety and disappointment. You know you can’t work any harder than you already do. You know you can’t cut back on much and if you do, you feel like the lives of your family are going to dissipate into total sadness and dullness. Your worry and sense of disappointment can be overwhelming. You believe you cannot plan for the future. You are sure your very existence is at risk!


Close your eyes for a moment and then think this: Engaging in artistic and creative activities can alleviate your anxiety and replace it with contentment and happiness. Such endeavors can help you uncover the internal strength you have been endowed with by God. Everyone is born with it. No matter how many people have told you that you are not artistic or creative, you must undo your internal belief and cast off anything that blocks you from engaging in creativity. It doesn’t matter what it is or how you try. Art saves lives! It is the core of your internal ability to deal with external stressors and unanticipated obstacles. It is the solution for success in your life regardless of your financial circumstances. It is the solution to an overall healthier family environment. It is an asset beyond education and financial security. It is the way to work and grow regardless of your resources. 


My premise begins with a simple fact that the family cultural and artistic perspectives in this country have been tarnished by excessive materialism and immediate gratification. Children no longer sit and create ducks and cats with nothing more than old pillow cases and a needle and thread. They rarely have the patience to whittle with a pen knife and piece of wood. Parents and children prefer the computer and TV to group activities that inspire one’s creative side. And yet, to ignore the gifts that every human being is born with does nothing more than extinguish the light in our souls that make life worth living and weaken our human ability to cope with stressors. Our anxiety grows and our inner strength breaks down.


When human beings engage in art, they are communicating with their internal God or their divine spirit or whatever it is that you call that internal seat of human power. When that is occurring, people are naturally allowing the higher power to control and direct their lives. And when they do that, they will surly become more compassionate, which will lead them toward becoming more principled in their nature, and ultimately make them more content and happy.


Social scientists have known this for many years. Proof can be found in the discovery of Bali, a relatively poor nation, in the early twentieth century. [From Wikipedia] “In the 1930s, anthropologist Margaret Mead and artists Covarrubias and Spies…  created a western image of Bali as "an enchanted land of aesthetes at peace with themselves and nature", …


This does not mean that the Balinese culture was precluded from invasion, financial pressure, and the external torments that most cultures have endured. They were not a traditionally rich culture. Yet they were one of the happiest people in the world and still are. What was different was that their humanity to overcome external obstacles with a universal commitment to engage in every type of artistic endeavor and commitment to teach their skills and talents to their children. There, each and every child was and is engaged with a grandparent who passes along their own inheritance of peace and contentment. They work with the children and show them how to make masks for celebrations and parades, or how to play an instrument. They practice dancing and learn to draw pictures, or use a kiln. Every child is inspired to create.


Believe this: Every time you try to be creative, you are feeding the storehouse or internal treasures of creation inside of you and the storehouse grows. It’s like imagining a cupful of happy cells that are part of your own private treasure house, just as glittery and valuable as any pirate’s treasure waiting to be discovered. The more you take in beauty, excitement, harmony, peace, and mindfulness, the more that cup of cells grows into potential creativity—and ultimate happiness.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Featured Painting of the Day.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Featured Painting of the Day