Ascalon, community art and acceptance
May 15, 2011, 5:14 am
Filed under: CCA1103

I always enjoy the opportunity to hear from guest lecturers and the creative process involved in their production of work relative to creative theory. Marcus Canning was the lecturer invited to lecture this week on the practical application of his artistic process in realizing a commissioned sculpture with fellow artist Christian de Vietri. The area of public and community based art and the inherent problems and solutions discovered was insightful in showing how creative theories related to community based creativity are practically applied.

The fundamental difference between personal creativity and community creative projects as I saw it, appeared to be the integration of people and government and organisations all needing to work towards a creative process which can satisfy limits set by the commission itself. Limitations such as public health and safety, time, budget constraints, issues of  artistic relevance,surrounding architectural, urban and natural environment, bureaucratic processes, personal and political motives, the undertaking of such an enterprise becomes a difficult exercise to control creatively. These highlighted issues don’t tend to arise in the personal creative process.

The way in which the commissioned work was realised and how the final piece entitled Ascalon evolved was an excellent example of what we as creative practitioners can expect to face if deciding to enter the domain of community based creativity. Here is a clip of the installation of the sculpture.

For more information on the commissioned piece view the following website:

The role and  importance of community based arts and culture in contemporary society was discussed in the tutorial. I have always considered the creative process important for individual growth. However the flow on effects to the community and its’ citizens in forging and promoting a healthy society  through creative study cases citied in the article, gave proven practical examples in dealing with economic and social renewal. A sense of pride, safety, heath and well-being of people in communal groupings regardless of size, place and diversity is imperative to a societies future health.

Reflecting on this I was reminded of a personal case were encouraging contact with diverse groups in the community through creative practice was created. I was teaching oil painting to a group of adult students in a community centre for seven years. In that time I discovered that a side effect to this teaching which I hadn’t counted on was the bringing together of people in the community.Due to diverse economical and social backgrounds the enrolled adults were not likely to encounter social interaction outside of the class. The students would tell me how they relished the weekly classes as a way of learning a new creative skill and the opportunity to engage with the diverse group. How diverse were they? I realised I had Academics, professionals from all parts of the economic spectrum, aged from 18 to 80, fellow artists, domestic mothers, even a nun. The issues discussed were broad, from art, religion, societal woes,etc. and although  not always in agreement, through dialogue and exchanging of ideology there was a great acceptance and tolerance in its diversity.

The passing on of my knowledge about painting was a great source of personal achievement. Bringing together of  a diverse group through communal creative practice, encouraging their personal growth through the visual arts, helping them to form strong social and communal bonds, is immeasurable to my own personal growth.

The creative process has led to interesting discoveries about myself and through the series of blogs in this creativity unit, the reflection and analysis of creative theories discussed, it has helped to give some concrete ideas to the ethereal and subjective analysis of why I create.

Referances :

Borrup, T. (2006). The creative community builder’s handbook: How to transform communities using local assets, art, and culture (pp. 3-30). Minnesota: Fieldstone Alliance.

Canning, M. (2011). Community- Based Creativity: Artrage. Lecture given at Edith Cowan University, Mt Lawley campus. May 13th 2011.

Sceneteamperth. (2010). Ascalon installation at St.Georges Cathedral Perth.. Retrieved May 15, 2011 from:


Gestalt laws, Analogical thinking and Picasso’s idea.
May 15, 2011, 1:48 am
Filed under: CCA1103

We all returned from the mid semester break and headed for the lecturer theatre were Dr. Stuart Medley presented a lecture on visual style in graphic design. He put forward an argument for the importance of creativity relative to style within the creative industry. He spoke and showed examples of  ways  to interpret design using a creative process of reducing photography through graphics to give strong representations of clients requests. By doing this he was illustrating the psychology involved. How the brain does more than the eye in registering certain patterns of association and other perceptual consistencies. We look for patterns in our surroundings using Gestalt laws of grouping including laws of proximity, similarity and common fate. Certain assumptions I had that we as people are unique in how we view the world visually was proven incorrect by these discovered laws.

More interesting was proving that capturing the senses of sound and touch and even smell  in visual format is possible. Through shapes, caricature and illustrative stories such as cartoon strips a certain sense of imagined sound,  touch, etc.  can be achieved. This was again illustrated by associating certain sounding words with certain shapes. A long study of this was carried out globally by two scientists Ramachandran and Hubbard with a sharp-edged enclosed line drawing called Kiki and an organic and soft enclosed line drawing called Oba. They asked participants which word best suited which image. When tested in the lecture theatre by Medley the class unanimously agreed which word best associated with wich line drawing. It was the sound of the names not the name itself that created a sense of which drawing seemed to fit the image. This type of  association was first linked to the condition or disorder that people were afflicted with  known as Synaesthesia. So Dr. Medley was showing us how by using psychology and creative thinking in design, style, graphics and art we can visually communicate successfully.

Communicating ideas in visual format and using ideas, words or concepts and applying them in a new context has been achieved successfully by many people in their creative process. The idea was discussed in the tutorial of analogical thinking and its importance. Through the reading supplied we looked at multiple examples of analogical thinking and the different methods used. From Synetics to direct, personal, fantasy and symbolic analogy to combination of  methods in different examples of great artists, innovators and creative thinkers of the past.

From this enlightening discussion I realised that I have often used analogical thinking in the past to formulate ideas for creative purposes. A long history of this has occurred within the knowledge that as many people state  ” is any creative idea really original?” With this in mind let us look at one of the most famous contemporary paintings produced in the 20th century, Pablo Picasso‘s ‘Les Demoiselles d’ Avignon‘.

Les Demoiselles d'Avignon. Oil on Canvas (244 ...

Image via Wikipedia

                      Les Demoiselles d’ Avignon. Pablo Picasso.1907
On closer examination and research of where this painting originated from creatively Picasso looked to the past as many did before him. The three figures to the left have an echo of the three graces, am image used throughout the late Rennaissance.Picasso’s spanish artistic heritage also played an influence, with the twisting of the two standing figures to the right being similar to El Greco’s mannerist style. Even the blue space between them resembles drapery from  El Greco’s Dumbarton Oaks Visitation. The stony faces of the women on the left which gives them an indifferent and interrogating stare was derived from Iberian stone heads Picasso first saw in the Louvre museum. Whilst the mask style faces to the right was influenced by the African artifacts and masks owned by Picasso as a means of transferring emblems of savagery and violence into the sphere of culture.
Picasso visually illustrated that taking the ideas of others,combining them in a new context can produce work of such revolutionary form and content that it can still shock today. Analogical thinking at its best.
Davis, G. A. (2004). Creative inspiration through analogical thinking. Creativity is forever (pp.145-170). (5th Ed.). USA: Kendall/Hunt.
Hughes, R. (1991). The Shock of the New. Art and the century of change. London : Thames and Hudson Ltd.
Medley, S. (2011). Creative Approaches to Design. Lecture given at Edith Cowan University, Mt Lawley campus. May 6th 2011.
Picasso, P. Les Demoiselles d’Avignon.(1907). Image retrieved on Friday May 6th, 2011. From Wikepedia website:

Erin, Jung – The ties that bind and flow
April 12, 2011, 8:20 am
Filed under: CCA1103

Erin Coates was a guest lecturer who spoke about her work in relation to creative ideology and ways in which she explores process, theory and practice. Erin  was a good choice as she was incredibly focused and able to articulate her artistic work which included drawing, sculpture, media and print. her approach to the visual arts is as she states with a ‘scientific mind’ in that she is thorough in her research, information gathering, and articulation of her ideas. It seems to me to reiterate what John Harman stated in his 5 rules of creativity(preparation, concentration, incubation, illumination and verification)which were demonstrated by Erin in presenting her folio of work.

The thought occurred to me that Erin’s way of creativity was a way i wished to emulate my visual praxis and the creativity unit I am currently studying is adding layers of understanding, by self-analysis of my work and its content and context through the exploration of creative theories.



Carl Jung- he gets me!

This in turn brings my focus to Carl Jung’s complex theory of the active imagination relative to my need to create. Pulling back the layers of complex theory and trying to see how this relates to me, I realised that the searching of why I create which was raised in my first blog seems to be dependant on not only contextual content but my subconscious and state of mind. Meaning that decisions made in the creative process such as subject and context are heavily influenced by my psychological state and therefore its outcome is dominated by my subconscious as much as my conscience thoughts. Why, what,(my emotive conscious and subconscious psyche) is just as important as how, when( analytical, technical process) when trying to balance my creative visual output.

The process of individuation and the maturing through stages of confrontation of the ‘shadow’ side and ‘anima’/’animus’ to reach  fulfillment in life and finding my ‘inner self’ all ring true in my quest to give voice to my creative urge. Am I solving my problems through pencil and paint? Why do I find dreams so detailed and rich in states of slumber? So much so that I can recall those that occurred in  the past vividly.Dreams seem to follow my waking thoughts frequently. I have subconsciously been drawn to books on symbolism and mythology and films dealing with themes of right and wrong, good v’s evil or just plain drama. I even resorted to asking others to try to interpret dreams and bought a book designed to interpret dreams. Incidently the book was using Carl Jung and his theories of dream analysis to interpret the dreams  based on symbolism of object and event.


Image by Austin Kleon via Flickr


 So Jung and his ideas fitted nicely with reasoning behind my creative urge,  whilst Erin Coates working praxis is my aim in aspiring to creative distilling of ideas.

Tying this all is the creative environment of flow and creativity which is the final piece in the creative jigsaw. Csikszentmihalyi‘s 9 aspects of flow showed how when I am really flowing creatively there seems to be certain environmental and mental processes occurring simultaneously. I just didn’t know that they were all aspects that were seamlessly occurring when I was creative. all the 9 aspects of flow from clear goals, action and awareness merged to sense of time becoming distorted have all occurred at some time in my artistic development. The ninth aspect of autotelic activity is definitely a conscious experience I strive for.It is the major theme tying the creative flow,  my passion and drive to enjoy my creativity. It is foremost  something I did for me and that others view of my choice of vocation and it’s hardships and financial struggle to stay in the field simply don’t matter. The secret to my happiness is understanding me, my drives and passions and choosing creativity as my expression and vocation gives me a sense of clarity and purpose. What more could you wish for?


Coates, E. (2011). Visual  Arts and Creativity. Lecture given at Edith Cowan University, Mt. Lawley campus. April 8th, 2011.

Csikszentmihalyi, M. (1996). The Flow of Creativity. Creativity: Flow and the psychology of discovery and invention (pp. 107-126). New York: HarperBusiness.

Harman, J. (2011) Personal Creative Process: John Harman.

Jung, C. (1997). Jung on active imagination (pp. 1-17, 28-33). (Ed. Joan Chodorow). London: Routledge

O’Shaugnessy, M. & Stadler, J. (2002). Carl Jung. Media and Society: An introduction (pp.176-184). Victoria: Oxford University Press.

Carl Jung. Image. Retrieved, April 12th 2011. Zemanta search engine from Wikepedia website;

Memories,Dreams,Reflections by Carl Jung.Image. Retrieved, April 12th 2011.Zemantra search engine from Flickr website;

Landscape and the creative personality

The lecture by landscape photographer by Dr.Juha Tolonen was a good example of using the creative process( landscape photography) and providing a contextual framework (ideas of modernity through social theories) in forging his creative process. Juha captured striking images that didn’t  fall into the categories of pretty or idyllic but more fittingly urban realism or contemporary urbanism because they dealt with urban decay, and the regeneration of  nature in the detritus of man’s consumption of its natural resources. The changing pace of the contemporary world and its visual pollution was bleak to say the least but effective non the less. The fusion and balance of theory and practice in his work ( known as praxis in the contemporary art game), caused me to reflect on my photography relative to the European landscape when travelling abroad.

I like to call it ‘coming up for air’, or travelling overseas as I strongly connect with my italian ancestry and therefore european environments tend to stimulate my creativity. I feel I need an injection of Europe to get the creative mind going. I decided to assess my image taking process and what I try to capture and what it says about my view of the continent. Below are some images of my last trip and see if you can pick the theme.

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Do you see a theme here?

A photographic representation of Europe with an emphasis of a glorified( if somewhat decaying)past. Hence reducing all images to Sepia tones for ageing effect and to simplify the imagery, a loose link to the perceived simplicity and glory of the Europe of the past. All this is fueling my creativity with the stories and histories recited by my family both here and abroad. So my creative personality is infused with my heritage.

I wonder what Freud and Jung would make of all this!

On the idea of creative personality which was discussed in the tutorial, I was reflecting on the 10 attributes of a creative person outlined by Csikzentmihalyi and wondered where I fitted in. As usual I felt rather chameleon like in my changing and shifting of personality dependant on my contextual leaning when creatively engaged. I can’t help wonder though, if personal traits are more imbedded at the gene and nurture level as much as anything else. As I catch myself at times in both creative and non-creative times reacting in ways both intellectually and emotionally as my parents did. In fact it tends to create a split in my personality at times as I vacillate between the two. But it does emphasis the point that ‘we are the sum of all that came before us’ ( as Meryl Streep pointed out in her moment on Who Do You Think You Are?), which only adds to the complexity of layers in my trying to unravel the creative process driving me on.


Csikszentmihalyi, M. (1996). The Flow of Creativity. Creativity: Flow and the psychology of discovery and invention (pp. 51-76). New York: Harper Collins

Tolonen, J. (2011). Photomedia. Lecture given at Edith Cowan University, Mt Lawley campus. March 25th, 2011.

Psycho Babble- creative theories,mind maps and why creativity is everything!
March 31, 2011, 3:33 am
Filed under: CCA1103 | Tags: , , , , ,

Who says you can never have enough of a good thing? This weeks lecture,by John Harman entitled Creativity is Everything,tutorial reading on psychoanalytic theories on creativity and tutor Dr. Mark McMahon suggesting we mind map our way creatively was almost too much for this ECU student to cope with. I swear I almost went for the reviving bottle of vapours and a lie down. The only saving grace was that again it made me appreciate even more this complex discussion and process of creativity. This week John Harman gave an insightful personal journey on his creativity, its effect on his life and the public domain. Namely his economic success as a ghost writer, script writer for mass media and published author. Through the years in the creative industry he has experienced a great deal and has integrated and supplemented his views through research and analysis of why creativity is everything.

He suggested that thinking without confines of ourselves and organisations( administration,rules and regulations) is necessary for creative knowledge. One way was the idea of mind-mapping to make ‘new connections between things'(Harman,2011).This process helps us ‘think outside the box‘ to create new ideas and concepts.

So I gave mind-mapping a go for myself. It wasn’t easy and coming to grips with my creative process in relation to my personal construct was both enlightening and revelationary. Here is the drawn diagram below.

Franco's mind map

Francos mind map

 A view of my mind and the way it functions in a map

It was enlightening because the creative theories mentioned in the tutorial after john’s lecture were not making much real sense(hence the blog title).Then I realized that in the process of analysing myself I gravitate towards believing the creative theory using the interactionist model of creative behaviour works. Person and environment are needed to be balanced and secure in my case to create effectively.This alines with Carl Rogers humanist approach to creativity with  forming a ‘physchologically safe environment’ , ‘internal locus of evaluation’, ‘playfullness’ and ‘openness to experience’ as means of  stimulating creativity.

This isn’t the only creative theory I find myself drawn towards. As sceptical as I am of Freud’s theory containing the ego,id,and superego, I tend to agree with the Primary and Secondary thinking process. As did John in his presentation(although Freud’s theory wasn’t mentioned) his idea on free association, brainstorming, word play, and fantasy daydreams in the Primary process, followed by “grown up” secondary process of analysis and reality and logic, are ways in which John and I go about the creative process.

So basically creativity is everything to me in that the context of creativity(my personal world) is enhanced, excited,balanced,nurtured and enlightened by my need to understand whats going on in the bigger domain of my personal bubble.

It was in the construct of this weeks lecture on the creative ideas of the mind that I decided to add the image at the top of my blog site. The image is representative of the shades and flexibility of the creative process. Sometimes free association of words and images can work well in getting an idea across, of course as anything related to visual imagery, it is subjective and interpretation is encouraged.


Davis,G. A. (2004). Definitions and Theories. Creativity is forever (pp. 58-73). (5th ed.). USA: Kendell/Hunt.

Harman, J. (2011) Personal Creative Process: John Harman.

Creative Schmative- Why is creativity important?
March 15, 2011, 8:05 am
Filed under: CCA1103 | Tags: , , , ,

Dr.Glen Spoors lectured this week on creativity from a historical overview. Included in the lecturer where some very interesting theories on cultural,ideological,philosophical and social contextual changes through the ages affecting creativity. Lecturing on these ideas and theories from the ancient origins to post modern civilisation was certainly given a speedy overview( a one hour lecture covering thousands of years of creativity and its implications was no small feat), however there was certainly a mass of information in power point and discussion which got the grey matter charged.The concept of creativity, an ephemeral and subjective idea at best viewed within a contextual platform was given  concrete form through the exploration of its past and present influences in human endeavours.

Reflecting on the changes in ideas through history and the work created throughout, caused me to think about my personal viewpoint on creative processes and why I create. Was I following the ancients in believing ” images and visions were are means for the divine to be communicated”(Spoors,2011).Do I follow a Romantic theory of an “idealised past” as a way of rejecting an “artificial world”? Am I creating visual imagery believing like T.S.Elliot that “the artist had to speak a “timeless” tradition and make it contemporary”?(Spoors, 2011)

I believe depending on the contextual content I’m thinking about and processing in a visual format be it photography,painting,drawing etc, my creative standpoint on the theories through history and It’s influence on my creativity, change.Isn’t that the point of creativity and it’s importance to mankind? The spark of a new idea and its successive processes involved is what spurs on the cultural evolution of the human species.Why would you want to subscribe to one theory as a platform to showcase your viewpoint? Surely this causes a creatively stagnate loop that simply repeats and reiterates the same viewpoint.Continuing on this path, would only plunge us into cultural darkness.Which leads me to another view on contemporary society and it’s effect on creative impulses.

The tutorial reading “Cock-Crow” an excerpt from ‘At day’s close: Night in times past’ by A.R Ekirch, was enlightening in showing the changes to humanities creativity when influenced by invention, namely artificial light, arguably “the greatest symbol of human progress” (Ekirch, 2005). This innovation coupled with shifting  ideology, created a myriad of changes in rapid succession, including better policing of  nocturnal activities increasing public safety, to creating cities running 24/7 enabling mass production on scales never witnessed in history . This gave rise to mass consumption and creating wealth in the process for more individuals, creating a new social middle class or ‘borgeoius’, as rich and poor had already existed in a longer time frame.This wealth increase ,coupled with labour-saving devices, allow the leisure time of the middle class to increase to consume the goods produced. The advantages and disadvantages can be argued ad nauseum. My point is that with the compression of time due to this where does it leave the importance of creativity? How is the spark of a new idea and process of creativity supposed to happen when the main factor influencing this and compressing as contemporary society moves along its’ path is time? Reading Ekirches loss of  “first/second sleep and its spiritual and other consolations”(Spoors,2011), caused me to ruminate on the idea that this was possibly the beginning of time being lost. Being able to reflect and germinate ideas of the conscious and subconscious in our relationship to the individual and society and our “spiritual” self seems to no longer be a granted option in contemporary society. I believe time is the essence of creativity in giving us reflexivity on issues that concern us as individuals and our place in creating cultural social and philosophical ideologies. This is precisely why I feel creativity is still important.

As to why I create and its importance throughout my life to engage with society visually,the answer isn’t clear.Giving myself the time to explore theories and ideas in this unit on creativity, may provide an answer. In the meantime I have through my visual practice constantly viewed works throughout history to try to inspire and explain this need to communicate visually with contemporary society. Looking to artists  past helps me identify with myself  as an artist and the challenges faced by artists to visually state their place in the world. Here is an example of  one such painting by an artist who inspires my understanding of the challenge to communicate ideas visually. Diego Velasques’ ‘Les  Meninas’ a painting that has intrigued the public and art historians and critics since its inception. Enjoy.



las meninas

Las Meninas - Diego Velazquez


References :

Ekirch, A. R. (2005). At day’s close: Night in times past (pp.324-329). New York: Norton and Company

Spoors,G. (2011). Creativity:An Historical Overview. Lecture given at Edith Cowan University, Mt.Lawley campus.March 12th, 2011.

Velazquez,D. Las Meninas. Image.Retrieved, March 15th 2011, from google image website;