Creativity in teaching and learning is vital

I firmly believe in inspiring students to be inquisitive and curious in order to develop their creative potential, which in turn leads to the development of good lateral thinking and problem solving skills. I found the following article about creativity in schools very interesting.

Creativity in schools sounds good – so what’s the hitch? by Anne Harris, Senior Lecturer, Creative Arts Education at Monash University.

via Blending aquieterstorm.tumblr.com

curiouser and curiouser … Image via Blending
aquieterstorm.tumblr.com

 

 

 

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Cosmigraphics

As a visual learner I found this synopsis of Cosmigraphics: Picturing Space Through Time in 4,000 Years of Mapping the Universe by Maria Popova very interesting and would like to share it with you.

I particularly like the thinking that has gone into the development of illustrations that deal with very complex concepts and which aim to convey these to a broad audience. It’s a different way of storytelling though pictures.

image depicting mutliple galaxies

cosmigraphics154 – image depicting mutliple galaxies

 

 

What’s in a face?

Can facial expressions tell others something about the overall character of a person?

What’s interesting is that when we meet someone for the first time, their facial characteristics (eg face shape, eye shape and colour, hair style and colour), and expressions, are of less importance to our brain than noting their race and gender. This is because our brain tries to process a person’s identity first, and race and gender are a strong part of identity.

Susana Martinez-Conde and Stephen L. Macnik write in an article titled What’s in a Face? – The human brain is good at identifying faces, but illusions can fool our “face sense”: “Facial expressions play a key role in our everyday social interactions. Even when watching movies or looking at photographs, we spend most of our time looking at the faces they portray. Our intense focus on faces is at the expense of other potentially interesting information, however.”

“Illusions: What’s in a Face?” is a slide show in the Scientific American Mind Matters series on the neuroscience behind visual illusions. It provides illustrations that demonstrate how our face-detection neural machinery can be fooled or overloaded.

Facial expressions can provide information about a person’s mood, but do not reflect their true inner feelings. Facial expressions used in social interactions, (for example during greetings, social crises or times of appeasement), can be the easiest to read and interpret.

Psychologists have long studied why people find certain faces more attractive than others. If we think that faces with symmetrical features are more attractive than others, why do many portrait artists deliberately exaggerate asymmetrical features? Stylisation such as this appears wrong and unflattering, however it often conveys something more meaningful about the sitter’s personality, mood or character than any flattering representation could.

Amedeo Clemente Modigliani (July 12, 1884 – January 24, 1920) was an Italian painter and sculptor who worked mainly in France. He is known for portraits and nudes in a modern style characterised by elongation of faces and figures. He died at age 35 in Paris of tubercular meningitis. Here are some of his portraits. They seem deceptively simple in their stylisation, and yet, for me, they express an understanding of the personalities and moods of the sitters.

Woman with Red Hair

Woman with Red Hair

Portrait of a Woman in a Black Tie

Portrait of a Woman in a Black Tie

The Black Dress

The Black Dress

Portrait of Max Jacob

Portrait of Max Jacob

The Boy (detail)

The Boy (detail)

Portrait of Chaim Soutine

Portrait of Chaim Soutine

Self Portrait

Self Portrait

Attention to details

Looking at the finer details of objects provides a new perspective and appreciation of their design, colour, texture and form. Here’s a few images that have inspired me.

 

Storytelling from images

Retina_Day_320365_Photographer_Marius-Vieth

Retina | Day 320365. Photographer: Marius-Vieth

Image source

Images are a great way to promote creative thinking. Find a collection of interesting images relating to a theme and then ask your students to study them, choose one or more of them, and then write a short story about what they think might be happening to the characters in them.

If you have chosen interesting images to start with the students may surprise you in their interpretations. You can then use their stories to promote meaningful discussions relating to your specific subject or workplace situation.

If you are prepared to be adventurous, don’t choose images that are targeted to a specific learning outcome or skill. To get the best results choose a theme that has no evident connection with your subject. This may sound frivolous, but if you really want to engage your students in a creative way give it a go.

As an example, look at these images:  http://www.tumblr.com/tagged/street-photography

Resulting stories from these images may revolve around:

  • appearances can be deceiving
  • some things can be overlooked
  • what’s in the detail is important
  • big versus small

Your challenge would then be to direct any resulting discussion from the students’ stories/themes back to the workplace or current subject area you are dealing with.

POSTSCRIPT: the images on this url change regularly, so what you see today may not be there next week – but the new ones will be equally interesting.

Metaphor again

I came across the work of illustrator, John Holcroft today and was impressed by the metaphorical strength of his images. I’m sure these images would initiate a lively discussion, theme, project, etc. in the classroom. The captions are not the titles of John’s work. You can read more about the context of his work and see more illustrations here.

You are what you eat

You are what you eat

Trapped within

Trapped within

Snakes and Ladders

Snakes and Ladders

Growing roots

Growing roots

London Subway

London Subway

TV overload

TV overload

The brain is slow to get going in the mornings

The brain is slow to get going in the mornings

What is a metaphor?

According to Buzzle “A metaphor is a substitution of an actual thing with its symbolism. For example, the famous line by Shakespeare – “All the world’s a stage and men and women merely players”, is an example of a metaphor where he substitutes the world with a stage and people with actors, playing their part. Not only is this a profound metaphor that connects the similarities between acting on stage and living life, but it also conveys what the author is trying to say, quite aptly. Thus, metaphors help grasp the real idea, by planting a similar symbolic idea in its place.”

There may be confusion between what is a metaphor and a simile. According to Buzzle “The prime difference between a simile and a metaphor is that while the former only compares the similarities between two entities, the latter goes so far as to equate two similar ideas. The sentence – ‘He was like a lion in the field’ is an example of a simile, but the same sentence when composed as – ‘He was a lion in the field’ becomes a metaphor. In the second sentence, the man is not just compared but equated with a lion for literary effect. Metaphor is substituting the symbolic similarity with the actual idea, while similes stop at identifying the similarity. Ergo, metaphors are much more powerful and potent tools in the hands of good writers as they can convey greater truths symbolically, without explicitly stating them.” Read more at Buzzle.

Colour Moods

I love colour, most of all when a group of colours work together to create a certain mood or ambience. Sometimes I need a colour palette that jumps boldly out and says “Look at me … I am fabulous!” Other times I need a colour palette that is less demanding, but still appealing, interesting and mood setting. How do I go about creating colour palettes for different needs?

Colour palette inspiration is all around us; we just need to look at our environment – both natural and man-made to find beautiful colour combinations that we can utilise for different themes or purposes.  There are times for “look at me” colour palettes, and times for something less bravado.

Today I’m focusing on a subtle colour palette; one that can evoke a sense of sophistication and serenity. I don’t want “boring” but I do want “ethereal”, “calmness” and “cohesiveness”. I call this a “soft palette”. The images below display a broad range of hues, but a delicate range of tones.  They are drawn from a range of sources.

Artichoke palette

Artichoke palette

Beautiful geometry

Beautiful geometry

Eggs in nest

Eggs in nest

Eucalyptus leaves

Eucalyptus leaves

Faded colours

Faded colours

Fungi

Fungi

Glazed hues

Glazed hues

Ibaraki ceramics

Ibaraki ceramics

Tray of jasper trials, ca. 1773-76, from Josiah Wedgwood's manufacture.

Tray of jasper trials, ca. 1773-76, from Josiah Wedgwood’s manufacture.

Rusty stuff

Rusty stuff

Sea Glass

Sea Glass

Soft texture

Soft texture

Sunlit Poppies

Sunlit Poppies

Tea Rose sketch and palette

Tea Rose sketch and palette

Teabag bundles

Teabag bundles

Soft colours

Soft colours

Vintage gas cans

Vintage gas cans

All images via

Contrast or harmony?

Here’s a collection of images that can be viewed in the context of contrast or harmony.

Not everyone will agree on which of these images could be categorised as contrast or as harmony (or both), and that’s the wonderful thing about imagery – it’s so individual. Most of us will perceive and interpret images based on our personal experiences, situation, mood or circumstances. Some of you will be analytical about your categorisation, most will react spontaneously and intuitively.

Look at these images and once you’ve made a choice, try to define what the elements are that helped you to decide if the image represents contrast or harmony, or if  (and how) it can be described as both.

Images are a good way to promote discussion in a learning environment. No one sees exactly in the same way – looking, re-acting and then analysing images allows us to ‘see’ through other people’s eyes and to learn about each other’s sense of perception. Initial reactions are a start, but when you take the time to think more deeply about what an image ‘says’ to you, a new level of understanding will emerge.

As an artist, the images I have chosen have an artistic appeal to me in relation to colour, space, design and form. As an educator, you could choose any range of images to promote specific discussion related to your area of expertise.

MARIMEKKO patterned hat spring 2013felixinclusis.tumblr.com

MARIMEKKO patterned hat spring 2013
felixinclusis.tumblr.com

Face design images.search.yahoo.com

Face design: images.search.yahoo.com

Boy and water liliessaffron-spice.tumblr.com

Boy and water lilies
saffron-spice.tumblr.com

Red and Paristumblr.com

Red and Paris
tumblr.com

Super dads3-ec.buzzfed.com

Super dad
s3-ec.buzzfed.com

Pink Orange Blue

Pink Orange Blue

Victor Vasarely

Victor Vasarely

Surma Man, Ethiopia news.nationalgeographic.com

Surma Man, Ethiopia
news.nationalgeographic.com

George Harrison & Bob Dylanrockimages.centerblog.net

George Harrison & Bob Dylan
rockimages.centerblog.net

Black and Whiteelledecor.com

Black and White
elledecor.com

Village WindowPhotos by Tony Kearney on Flickr

Village Window
Photos by Tony Kearney on Flickr

Twigs Sculpturearthouse.oulu.net

Twigs Sculpture
arthouse.oulu.net

Spiral stairways3.amazonaws.com

Spiral stairway
s3.amazonaws.com

Organic highwaydesignboom.com

Organic highway
designboom.com

Blendingaquieterstorm.tumblr.com

Blending
aquieterstorm.tumblr.com

People and their shadowsffffound.com

People and their shadows
ffffound.com

Faceonbluepoolroad.com

Face
onbluepoolroad.com

google.co.uk

google.co.uk

Bror Johanssonvickyveiled.tumblr.com

Bror Johansson
vickyveiled.tumblr.com

Generationsconfessionsofapropjunkie.com

Generations
confessionsofapropjunkie.com

Friendsmedia-cache6.pinterest.com

Friends
media-cache6.pinterest.com

Bridgetumblr.com

Bridge
tumblr.com

prickly pear frozen margaritacupcakesforbreakfast.com

prickly pear frozen margarita
cupcakesforbreakfast.com

Turkish artist Mehmet Ali Uysalfbcdn-sphotos-a.akamaihd.net

Turkish artist Mehmet Ali Uysal
fbcdn-sphotos-a.akamaihd.net

a moment. a shiftmedia-cache6.pinterest.com

a moment. a shift
media-cache6.pinterest.com

Jonathan Delafield Cook ’s drawing “Bird’s Nest, 1998”

Jonathan Delafield Cook ’s drawing “Bird’s Nest, 1998”

natcaronphotography.com

natcaronphotography.com

Orange Blueaquieterstorm.tumblr.com

Orange Blue
aquieterstorm.tumblr.com

Explosion of colorsdesert-dreamer.tumblr.com

Explosion of colors
desert-dreamer.tumblr.com

White Center.  Mark Rothko

White Center. Mark Rothko

The forms are similar, the patterns contrast, by Kelly Jean Ohlartfulhome.com

The forms are similar, the patterns contrast, by Kelly Jean Ohl
artfulhome.com

White Birchjeffreymurray.photoshelter.com

White Birch
jeffreymurray.photoshelter.com

San Josemaría Escrivá Church by Javier Sordo Madaleno Bringas

San Josemaría Escrivá Church by Javier Sordo Madaleno Bringas

Purple yellowmoonlightrainbow.tumblr.com

Purple yellow
moonlightrainbow.tumblr.com

njoi.tumblr.com

njoi.tumblr.com

H. Palleiko Designsfrom Flickr

H. Palleiko Designs
from Flickr

Botrylloides magnicoecumflickr.com

Botrylloides magnicoecum
flickr.com

Giuseppe Guadagnoartpropelled.tumblr.com

Giuseppe Guadagno
artpropelled.tumblr.com

Contrast or harmonystylelik.eu

Contrast or harmony
stylelik.eu

gorgeousouboosandshoes.blogspot.com

gorgeous
ouboosandshoes.blogspot.com

all images via

Shades of blue

I love colour saturated images. The beauty of any colour is enhanced through a subtle combination of its various hues. Here’s a range of cool blues that anyone would find hard to resist. I find colour and images like these inspirational.

artpropelled.tumblr.com

artpropelled.tumblr.com

loveliegreenie.tumblr.com

loveliegreenie.tumblr.com

Gur Emir Mausoleum, Samarkandzarzor.tumblr.com

Gur Emir Mausoleum, Samarkand
zarzor.tumblr.com

huamao.tumblr.com

huamao.tumblr.com

mixedplateblog.com

mixedplateblog.com

intense blue

Antonio Basso, Ibizaflickr.com

Antonio Basso, Ibiza
flickr.com

wishflowers.tumblr.com

wishflowers.tumblr.com

Blue, Matilda Bay, Australiabesttravelphotos.wordpress.com

Blue, Matilda Bay, Australia
besttravelphotos.wordpress.com

28.media.tumblr.com

28.media.tumblr.com

blue ceramic pattern

by laura.bellflickr.com

by laura.bell
flickr.com

baenk.com

baenk.com

Blue Footed Booby ~ Galapagos Islandsgoogle.com

Blue Footed Booby ~ Galapagos Islands
google.com

All above images via

Artists use colour to express emotions and moods. Here’s Head of Woman from Pablo Picasso’s Blue Period (1901–1904).

In the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

In the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

What’s in a brief?

I’ve just been reading a blog by Krishna http://nairkrishna.wordpress.com and am impressed with this statement that appears on it:

“We see what we expect to see. What we know, or think we know, influences us so strongly that we
 are often blind to change, to new 
views and new opportunities. This 
is true in all aspects of life.

The challenge is to see and learn
 everything around us with fresh eyes.”

I love it!

I’ve been thinking about the way I interact with clients who find it hard to articulate what they want when it comes to a visual design brief. Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s great that they don’t have a literal concept in mind – no designer wants to be ‘the pencil’ for someone else’s visual concept, but I do need a brief to help me meet their expectations. However, I also want enough latitude so I can provide concepts that allow the client to “see and learn with fresh eyes”.

I have a wonderful client who willingly embraces the opportunity to see and learn with fresh eyes and who trusts me with total creative freedom. Her briefs are usually something like this:

Client: “I want some images to work as inspiration for some yet to be developed courses that will be aimed at people of different ages, experience and background”

What a wonderfully ‘open’ brief, but I need to get a narrower perspective. I don’t want to set any pre-conceived notions so I try to get more information by asking the client to describe her big-picture thoughts through abstract terms such as emotions, colours, style, relationships and metaphors; eg “if this project could be described as an animal what sort would it be?” “what colours do you spontaneously think of when you think about this project”,  “give me 10 key words that immediately come to mind when you think about this project”, “what’s the main effect and outcome you want”, “what don’t you want” (usually clients are quite clear about this one).

My client really appreciates this approach and from it has evolved a really good working relationship.

Here are some images that I created for such a project. These images were used to inspire creative course titles and content in the early development stages of a learning program, and were then used in a successful marketing campaign for that program.

Revealing the inner self

Revealing the inner self © Bev Puckridge

Fisher in the ocean of opportunity

Fisher in the ocean of opportunity © Bev Puckridge

The voyage of dreams © Bev Puckridge

The voyage of dreams © Bev Puckridge

Flightpath  © Bev Puckridge

Flightpath © Bev Puckridge