Friday, October 30, 2009

Art Brain. Art Gene.

The more artists I know and talk with, the more artists I read about and meet, all seem to have a very strong set of characteristics and qualities; similarities in how they view and interact with the world..

What do you think? Is there an Art Brain or an Art Gene?
Talk amongst yourselves...

and here is a video while you are thinking about it and basically writing my blog this week...


  1. So to I.
    The creative centre of the brain is more active. It allows us to think creatively and that spills over into lifestyle as well as creative activities.
    Good topic!

  2. I think there is an art gene...people may have been born with talent and ability to draw, paint, sculpt, etc., but that doesn't make them an artist. The art brain is the key. You have to be able to think, respond, critique, do and undo to make art.

  3. I like your thoughts Debs and Laura.. you obviously have art brains. : ) I hope more people will respond as well. I would like to have more discussions over here.. Even if people don't agree.. Also I would like to know more about how ones lives with an art brain. I think art brains need special care, and many artists ignore this and try to pound and shape them into a "everyday brain" with poor results..

  4. I love this topic. What a great question, what an intriguing discussion!

    Here's what I think. First, I think everyone has the capacity to create. And I think practice makes the master. The desire to practice drives the amount of "talent" a person has, which, I think, is immensely subjective.

    I can run, but I can't run a marathon. Yet. If I practice, and train, even I can run a marathon.

    The more I do something, with an open mind, and constantly willing to improve/learn and go beyond my current level - whether running, grasping complex mathematical concepts, cooking, studying another language, or drawing/painting/sculpting - I find myself growing. And maybe my 'talent' grows too!

  5. Stephanie- thanks for your input.. You are an optimistic person. I will never grasp complex mathematical concepts. I have tried for years to have a math brain- tutors, remedial classes, hours and hours of studying, but it never ever made any sense. Perhaps, I had a bad experience and shut down my math brain- and my negative opinions have hindered my ability to grow in this area- but I just don't think that area exists in my brain. I think people have the capacity to create yes, but I am not sure even if they approach it with an open mind and practice if they can become an artist. Maybe to some degree, but they may never pass that level, just like I can only do basic math (I am really great at multiplication) even though I practiced at algebra for years. I don't know.. but I do hope more people will chime in. I would love to hear from other artists that struggle with art brain as a curse as well as a blessing.

  6. I don't think being driven is exlusively tied to one's success. I have witnessed students who want something, try very hard at something, but they simply can't learn it. Likewise, I have seen students with amazing ability but no motivation. I think it is two parts talent, one part motivation and one part curiousity. With curiousity...there is no search.

  7. I could say I will never be able to sing a note or play any kind of instrument. I would love to. I would love to be able to sit down at a piano and play a few songs I like. I usually say, "I am not musically inclined," but I love music.

    It would be challenging, and I would have to get over a lot of confidence-blasting mistakes to learn. But I know I could. Although, just thinking about it makes me not even want to try. Because it would be so hard. I have already made up my mind that I wouldn't be any good, and to even try would be a waste of time.

    But what if I set my mind to it?
    I may not be a world famous piano player, but I would have grown.

  8. that last line should read "WithOUT curiousity...there is no search."

  9. Thanks for all these great comments.This is copy and pasted from my friend Ashley: These are her thoughts about art brain.
    "Yes, certainly.I'm convinced there is a 'making stuff' gene. I'm not sure about'art'-it is so subjective. Maybe there are similarities between people who choose to pursue art as a career? Or, even art as a lifestyle? Thinking of my father versus my mother - I would certainly say they are both artists but with very different temperaments and approaches (to everything). My grandmother also, I would say, was an artist, though what she did falls into the 'craft' category. She definitely had The Eye. For her background and generation to become a classical artist wasn't an option but she had It, if you know what I mean...

  10. There is a theory that proposes the two sides of the brain in human beings control different modes of thinking... the left brain is supposedly responsible for logical, sequential, rational, analytical, objective thinking while the right brain tends to the random, intuitive, holistic, synthesizing and subjective. This theory also claims that individual human beings are predisposed towards one mode or the other.

    A left brained individual would be predisposed to being better at math, for example, while a right brained individual would be predisposed towards being better at creating art.

    Unless I'm mistaken, however, this theory has waned in popularity because scientific testing has shown that the working of the brain isn't nearly as cut and dried between one side and the other as once thought. Yet, evidence seems to show that these two types of people do exist -- it could be because the working of the sides of the brain are still different enough to cause the effect, or possibly because of influences during the individual's upbringing, Or it could be because of some factor yet undiscovered. Maybe that factor is the "art gene/art brain"?


  11. BTW, I swiped the explanation in my first paragraph from here:

    (credit due) --sj

  12. Here I am... finally. What I was saying (on FB) is that maybe it isn't about the who has the ability to become an artist, rather it is who chooses to become a professional artist. I know there are a lot of people out there who are highly creative, imaginative and able to create amazing art but have chosen to train in other fields rather than risk becoming an artist. Also, becoming an artist requires a lot of support and tolerance from family and friends. Very few people can afford the time and space for such an endeavor. Almost every artist I have known has needed a highly supportive backer to be able to create art in enough quantity (and quality, of course) to show professionally. That situation in itself can be pretty stressful. So, there is much more to the artistic temperament than just being an artist.

  13. This is an interesting discussion. I agree that there are tendencies to particular talents and motivations that we are born with and are therefore genetic but art is such a big topic that I doubt there is one type or gene but there are probably certain combinations. One of the wonderful things to discover is the creativity of someone we previously didn't think of as an artist.

    Have a great weekend x

  14. Ashley, I completely agree. Completely. And it often does take much support, backing, and risk to create art professionally.

    I've been thinking about this topic a lot now, and the thing I keep coming back to is - if I had the luxury of 8 hours (or more) a day to devote to something, let's say painting, then my skills would definitely grow.

    Isn't it important, though, that whether or not we are professional artists, we don't limit ourselves, and regularly try new things, techniques, directions? Like Megan, as you branch out and do your '100 Flashes of Memory.' For example.

    I've also heard of many artists who didn't "discover" their "talent" until late in life. Or, if they have the "gene" maybe they did not devote time to cultivate their talent until after their kids are grown and they've retired from that job that provides retirement and health insurance benefits. :)

  15. It is not an art brain or an art gene. It is an art muscle. There are plenty of people with art brains that aren't making art. There are also some people with no art brain, that are considered great artists.

  16. O.k. maybe I'm taking this in a different direction but there are it seems to me some commonalities I see in myself and other artists. And all sorts of artists, visual arts, musicians and writers. Here's my run down, a need to face the unknown, listening and responding to subtlety, consistently connecting to make meaning, a mammoth capacity to read between the lines and unyielding passion. I think there is more I'll be back. This has unblocked something for me Megan yay! :)

  17. MY opinion;'s a lot of different things. just like each person's art is unique, their path to art is often equally unique. In school, and in my art career, I have met many people with what for lack of a better description I will call the ART innate ability to draw, what I call "having an eye", just like good musician's have "an ear"...But so many of them never did anything with it because they didn't have an "Art Brain"...I've often thought that if you can only choose one, an eye, or a "crazy art brain"...take the "Crazy Art Brain" can learn to seemns to me you can't learn to have those insane, esoteric insights that often make the difference between just interesting images and intriguing "fine" art. A book I ALWAYS recommend to ALL my art friends, and anyone that wonders about these things is "Touched With Fire, Manic Depressive Illness And The Artistic Temperament", by Kay Redfield Jamison. It is not only a GREAT read in and of itself, but offers a view of this topic and discusioin of many artists, writers, poets, that had THAT sort of "Art Brain" (having an "Art Brain" doesn't mean you are bi-polar, it's just one aspect of some "Art Brains")...of course the ultimate genius...those that truly excel, are the ones with both the "Art Brain"(not necessarily bi-polar) and "an EYE"... Michealangelo, Da Vinci, Picasso, on and on. I have also had many friends that were into "Pure Mathematics". A very "creative" pursuit. When we talked about how they got their ideas, it was often the same seemingly random sorts "insights", "dreams", or "awakenings". So although they weren't in the least interested in making art, their creative path was similar to mine, the "creative brain" part had similar "switches".

    these are just a few things occurring off the top of my head after reading the previous blog entries.


  18. Personally, I tend to side with the "Art Brain" concept. Viewing the world as an artist can be learned. Some are more predisposed to "seeing" like an artist, however. I was born with talent but I'm not sure how much "art brain" I really had. I studied in school to be an engineer and it almost ruined my ability to really see past the static reality of a scene/situation to another underlying level. I'm slowly starting to be able to do this finally so that's the backing for my belief that these are learned responses and not innate, thus "art brain" is the predominant measure of an artist.

  19. thank you all so much for your thoughts and then taking the time to put them into words and share them here. I have really enjoyed reading everyone's ideas.. I hope to read them all again and write some comment that touches on these concepts and your interpretations of them, but who knows if I really will. : ) Thanks again.. You guys rock- art brains or not!