The Calm Before the Brainstorm

This week I had a really great session with one of my art students that I would like to share. Of course I have an amazing time with all of my students, but this session reminded me of something extremely important. You have heard a lot from me regarding both inspiration and the elusive creative block, so I have yet another fun way to tackle both of those, very opposite, concepts. This week lets discuss the art of brainstorming! (I say “calm” before the storm for a reason).

My student said she wanted to put together an impasto style oil painting for her sister; one of my personal favorite styles. My response to her idea was “thumbnails!” This concept of gathering the jumbled mess of ideas in your brain was first introduced to me by our very own Dennis Corrigan. A wildly creative genius in his art, he really knew how to gather his ideas and provided a very interesting way of doing so, through thumbnails. For those who don’t know, a thumbnail is just a small version of a particular idea that is in the running to become the final piece. I drew out a few small boxes on a piece of paper and handed it over to my student. I got a strange look at first, but told her to trust me and just start picking out some concepts floating around in her head. This was the calm, cue the storm.

We each got on a computer and went for it. We came up with so many incredible colors, images, and textures to include in her thumbnail sheet. By the end we were both laughing, drawing, and discussing our ideas. We completely lost track of time…oops! I think this is such a fun exercise and really gets your juices flowing when maybe you have an idea that you don’t know where to take, or you are really experiencing that funk. Dennis had such a fun time watching us explore our ideas and, for me, the tables turned and I saw it happening in the eyes of one of my own students. So I say get out there and dive head first into that storm! You never know what may come of it.

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