Four Characteristics of Creativity
DOWNLOAD: Creativity and problem finding handout
has identified the following four behaviors as being relevant to identifying
and defining creative activity.
Getzels & Csikszentmihalyi (1976) described problem-finding as an essential aspect to the creative process where the longer the individual worked in the process or problem-finding stage, the more they manipulated or churned over visual ideas. The results of their research into this process of problem finding were that the final products of students that stayed in the process stage longer were of higher quality and higher originality. They also found that, after ten years, those students who spent more time engaged in the process part of the assignment were still practicing artists while those who rushed to finish the assignment were not. When you think about it this is logical. Those who love making art for the making are the ones who will continue and those who rush to finish will be finished with art in a short period of time.
Creativity is not
a rejection of the restrictive objectives of an assignment to do
what I want to do but rather an embracing the limitations to find
the personal solution within its restrictions. Orson Wells was reported
to have said, The greatest enemy of art is a lack of limitations.
I believe what he meant was that, without some restrictions, you wont
have to think, problem solve, or go outside of yourself but rather use
the same old bag of tricks you have developed and used over and over again.
Restrictions or limitations cause you to stretch yourself. It is the very
restrictions that force a person to be creative in order to solve the
problem in a unique and personal way.
Wilson and Wilson
(1976) have indicated that boredom is a necessary condition for creativity.
They reason that creative people become creative and engage in creative
activity to escape boredom. I had an opportunity to observe this in my
experience teaching Advanced Placement Studio Art for over ten years.
Students would pick a theme or idea with which to work and after about
two weeks they would come to me and want to change their idea or theme.
I would not let them because they had gotten to the point that they were
bored and could not see a way out. It was at that point that they would
have to start doing things to their idea to keep themselves interested.
That is the point at which they would start becoming creative and the
work became rich. Professional artists historically have imposed restrictions
on themselves to bring about this type of creative behavior and more deeply
investigate an area of interest. One of the most well known artists of
the modern era is Monet and the hay stacks or the Rouen Cathedral. One
of my favorite examples is Stuart Davis who made a still life of a rubber
glove, an iron, and an egg beater. He worked with those three objects
every day for a year (Rose 1975).
Many people misguidedly
believe creative thinking is freeform, undisciplined, spontaneous thought
that springs out of nowhere. The fact is that creative thinking is rigorous,
focused, disciplined, thought. It is divergent and nonlinear to be sure,
but it is not without form, substance, or rigor. Marzano (1988) has indicated
that creative thinking is critical thinking. They are both linked as a
similar modality of thought.
Single solutions without exploration of possibilities do not exhibit any of the characteristics of creativity. Creativity seeks multiple solutions. The creative mind goes through 20, 40, or 100 possibilities before choosing a final solution. Making many drawings to play with ideas and discover problems and possibilities is an example of fluency.
Being willing to alter an idea when time, materials, or a chance happening in process suggests another path is an example of flexibility. Eisner (1978) describes flexible purposing as a shifting of the purpose in the process of art making when the artist chooses to explore an unexpected opportunity. Flexible thinkers see mistakes not as a door closing but and opportunity to explore a path not yet considered.
Embellishing, adding detail, adding extra marks or texture, developing form, are examples of elaboration.
Originality results from being yourself and drawing on personal experience and a myriad of influences (rather than one or two) to come up with a solution to a problem that is personally meaningful. Originality results from this and an engagement in the other three aspects of creative behavior.
My assignments always
start with thumbnail sketches and rough-outs before beginning work on
the project. Portfolios always consist of process and product work. Students
are encouraged to keep all work done during the unit especially the false
starts and drawings deemed too bad to show anyone. These works show evidence
of creative and critical thinking; overt signs of covert activity. Rubrics
always give equal weight to process and product. Typically portfolios
with numerous richly developed thumbnails and rough-outs have also been
the portfolios with the richest and most well developed final products.
Getzels, J.W. and
Csikszenthmihalyi, M. (1976). The creative vision: A
Guilford, J. P. (1968).
Intelligence, creativity and their educational implications. San Diego,
CA: Robert A Knapp, Publisher.
Marzano R. J. (1988).
In J.G. Kurfus Critical thinking: Theory, research, practice, and
Rose, B. (1975). American
art since 1900. New York: Praeger Publishers.
Torrence, E. P. (1974).
Torrance tests of creative thinking. Bensenville,IL:
Wilson, B. & Wilson,
M. Visual narrative and the artistically gifted. Gifted Child