Creativity can be described as a process of divergent and convergent thinking and can be easily synonymous with problem solving.  The thinker has to be able to identify a problem and understand the problem. The creative person is able to see unique relationships between elements and make connections where they had not seen them before. The creative process can be a combination of conscious and sub conscious thinking. Usually, when a “original” ; solution is realized, the person, has an “aha” moment.

Creative thinking strategies can be taught and encouraged in the right environment. A person’s environment can kill creativity, and most people have a creative slump around adolescence when they are concerned about the peer group.

As art teachers, we have to realize what we do isn’t always helping the students be more creative.

Close ended and “copy me” lessons have their place, especially when learning a new technique or media. (I tell the regular teachers in my school that kids can’t write a story with out learning the mechanics of writing. Nor can they be “creative” ; in art without learning some processes.)

On the other hand, in the classroom, students need to be shown some creative strategies they can use to make open ended products, when appropriate.

The four basic creative thinking skills are

  • FLUENCY: producing a large number of ideas or responses;
  • FLEXIBILITY: changing ones way of thinking by producing alternative ideas or categories;
  • ELABORATION: expanding a single idea by adding details, making changes, or making ideas more interesting and complex; and
  • ORIGINALITY: producing unique or novel ideas that are new to oneself.


With regard to those inevitable conversations students will have regarding “talent”…

Talent is grossly  overrated. I would even go so far just say that talent is nonexistent – that it’s really more a compilation of characteristics. Let me explain.

“Talented” people share three common characteristics. The first is the ability to learn and apply knowledge and skills in a familiar way. For instance, you learn to design using symmetrical balance; you learn the basic proportions of the human face and how to create shadows in a believable way in a drawing. You learn how to use slip and score to keep your clay from falling apart. Students can be very “Creative” using familiar techniques. But it only takes you so far.

The second characteristic is learning to master knowledge and skills by applying them to new and very unfamiliar or unusual situations. This is where creative professionals learn to make the magic… This is where they create imagery that is “visually interesting.” What do we mean by “visually interesting”? Ask yourself what events precipitated David Hockney deciding to do portraiture using a montage of images. Ask yourself what made Picasso and Braques attempt to create images that represented multiple moments and places time. Ask yourself what makes the difference between the basic Art I assignment and the types of AP solutions that you see printed on our posters…

The third characteristic is perseverance. And frankly this may be the most important characteristic… Perseverance is not giving up when you fail – and you will fail a lot in this course. Perseverance is not being happy with “good enough.” “Good enough” has absolutely no place in the art room . “Good enough” is a stepping stone from learning to mastery. “Good enough” is the difference between scoring a “1” on a portfolio and scoring a “4” or “5”… It is the difference between a career at McDonald’s and a scholarship. Successful students tend to be those who learn how to persist and prevail.


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