Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Lynne Roff - Creative States and Structures


Hat tip to Integral Praxis for originally posting this article.
Creative States and Structures

Lynne Roff
California Institute of Integral Studies

Abstract: This paper explores the states of consciousness associated with creative work and intimations of specific structures of consciousness that develop over the life of an artist or other creative individual. Creative states are transitory phenomenological experiences that are recurrent and predictable aspects of the creative process. Collectively they form a continuum experienced in the course of a creative work. Creative structures are developmental conditions of consciousness that emerge and incorporate one another in succession. A structure cannot be
omitted in individual cognitive development, and, barring damage to the brain, structures are permanent and irreversible.

The Case for Creative Development
We all know someone whose creative accomplishments we admire. In the community
where I live there are many visual artists and makers of fine craft whose works grace our galleries. Dancers, actors, designers, directors, and playwrights bring life to our theatrical venues. Musicians and composers entertain in the evenings and symphonic groups for mature and young players thrill us with their grasp of orchestral and chamber music. Singers regularly ply our stages, and children grow up going to theatre camp in the summer. Over time we can observe their growth and applaud their artistic discoveries.

Observation tells us that the techniques of art are learned by doing. As informative as the literature may be, we do not learn to draw by reading books about drawing. We learn to draw by moving the lead of a pencil over the surface of a piece of paper. We learn to draw by carefully observing the world around us, and making record of its nuance in pencil, ink, and pastel. We learn to draw by doing these tasks many times with concentration and absorption. In doing so we become subjectively and objectively immersed in the task.

No one can teach us how to draw. Mentors may suggest, give us assignments, and even grade our attempts, but they cannot impart the knowledge to us. We learn how to do that ourselves. We learn by doing. We learn by engaging the body and mind as one. We acquire competency through personal intiative and investment in the process. When we have acquired competency, we know it. We know it in our bones.

If we discontinue our training our technique stays more or less where it is. Children who stop learning to draw at age twelve will draw much the same way at age forty. If at age forty the individual continues to draw, the process of creative development will begin anew from that skill level. The first task of an instructor is to determine the location of the student’s awareness. This is because levels of development cannot be omitted, and people learn from where they are, and not from some imagined place convenient to the instructor.
Read the whole article.

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