From Literal to Lateral Thinking

I was thinking about what I wrote yesterday concerning my updated art journal pages.

Yes, I do “read” paintings like dreams, but did my catalogue of symbols remind you of someone pointing to the clouds and squealing, “There’s a rabbit. Oh, can you see the elephant? And there is a shoe!”

This method of seeing what symbols are in my paintings arises out of my study of dreams and interpreting dreams. Dreams can be quite literal, but it is the lateral thinking I am really interested in.

Lateral thinking is a term coined by Edward de Bono, and refers to “solving problems through an indirect and creative approach. Lateral thinking is about reasoning that is not immediately obvious and about ideas that may not be obtainable by using only traditional step-by-step logic.”

I have described myself as an artist who paints emotions. We all have them, and are all more or less at the mercy of them. What I do is use emotional energy to steer my hand with the art implements within my range. I sense a current between my heart and hand, and feel as if I am in a palpable energy field that is informing my “decisions” as the artwork emerges.

It is only after the energy field dissipates that I can look at the art and ask myself practical questions about composition. But even as I am in analytical mode, I want some of that emotional energy to keep me true to what the painting wants to say.

When I find objects within a painting, they are more than “a tree,” “a house”, “a circle.” Each object is a symbol with many personal and inter-related meanings. If I follow the dream analogy further, each of those symbols is representative of a part of myself. This is not narcissistic: it is simply that you can only really know your self (and even that is difficult to pin down). As I recognize, name and explore those symbols, my emotions are once again heightened and engaged, because the connections are so integral to my being.

In a sense, every piece of artwork is a tarot card, and my subconscious mind has illustrated its surface. This gives my conscious mind the opportunity to see what was wholly, or partially, hidden and run with those revelations. It is a wonderful game that I never tire of playing.

Furthermore, when others are triggered by those symbols, or even see something else entirely than what I have deciphered, they also join the game. Their personal associations come into play, and if they are willing and take the time to share, we engage in an interchange that is potent enough to meld our souls together.

Painting, anyone?

She looked so static . . . now I hope she looks like she's getting ready to spring.


About CarolWiebe

Art entices, inspires, and delights me. Art is a vehicle for laughter, tears, wonder, enlightenment--taking me on a constant path of discovery. You can't say that about housework (except, perhaps, for the crying part).
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3 Responses to From Literal to Lateral Thinking

  1. Synchronicity again! I’d been working recently on that old “What do I do with the rest of my life?” question, using suggested methods of lists. Lists of what I do well, what I love doing, what I can’t abide the thought of doing. This lead me to the Left/Right Brain issue. I’ve always tested as 98% Right Brained (the “Turning Dancer” has never spun counter-clockwise, no matter how I stare!), and can’t imagine not thinking laterally.

    So as I sit with paper & pen to finish/continue the list-making, your post whacked home what for me is the obvious truth. The answer is in the art. Always. Not in the lists, the interviews, the questionnaires, the personality or ability tests. The answer is in the art. Always.

    I think sometimes, for those of us whose natural language is color and symbol, we become hesitant about our ability to communicate. But perhaps it is more that we are giving our side of the communication and it really doesn’t matter how effectively (or affectively) it is received. Who we are and what we have to say is in our art. Always.

  2. Carol Wiebe says:

    Yes, Yes, YES!

    When I get overwhelmed (underwhelmed, want to express joy, sadness, etc.), the best thing I can do is head for my studio and paint my way into understanding who I really am and what I have to say.

    I am so thankful for that studio. I could call it my spirit house.

  3. Pingback: Silver Spring Studio – From Literal to Lateral Thinking | Bourgeon

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