“To develop their concepts, Oldenburg sketched while the two discussed ideas.”
From a thumbnail review in the July/August 2009 issue of The Artist’s Magazine of a joint Claes Oldenburg/Coosje van Bruggen exhibit (speaking of the 30-year collaborators’ work method).
“The last time the Nashville square peg Todd Snider wound up in jail, he did what any self-professed folksinger would do: he wrote a song about it.” From “The Balladeer of Just Getting By” by Craig Marks in the June 14, 2009 issue of The New York Times.
The image that comes to mind when I think about my writer friend Mal Karman and his creative process is not that of a light bulb over his head or a bolt of lighting — it is of an open window.
Mal’s got plenty of ideas. That’s never been a problem. He pays attention to his ideas, and has the discipline to record them as soon as they come – pen and index cards are always nearby. Then he leaves them alone on a metaphorical window sill. Yes, alone.
“Ideas need air to develop, but the air won’t come through a closed window,” says Mal. ”The window needs to be open to the outside world, and it’s widest open when I’m living my life.”
Mal continues: “In my experience, solutions and new paths come when I’m not actively looking for them. They come when I’m driving or working out or talking to someone or falling asleep. The mental work stops, and the creative and the visceral take over.”
Mal says he’s not patient with himself, but I wonder. ”I know I have a good idea when, after a year, I still think it’s a good one,” he says. Proof? One idea, for the film that he has written and directed, started 7 years ago as a short story. It lay on the window sill until 2 years ago, when a “what’s new” lunch with a friend led to a funding source which led to … “Etude in Black” is in the final stages of color-correction and sound-editing. Another idea, for a novel, was born 24 years ago after a personal trauma. It languished far from any window, but another trauma — Mal’s serious illness and present recovery — living life, indeed — brought it the air that it needed. Revisions are almost complete.
“He agrees with what a child once told him — that ideas come from ‘both your inside and your outside.’”
From “A Very Young Heart” by Holly Davis in the July/August 2009 issue of The Artist’s Magazine (referring to children’s book illustrator/writer Eric Carle).
For a scientist, an idea may result in an hypothesis. Something to be put into the form of a specific, limited question that can be tested.
A team of doctors and researchers at the University of California-San Francisco has an hypothesis. Although it is already known that breast-tissue density is a risk factor for breast cancer, they seek more specific data on the genetic and other characteristics associated with breast density — in other words, What are the actual markers of breast density that predict breast cancer risk?
To help, I took part in the UCSF study. It involved releasing to the researchers my breast-health records and undergoing a sort of super-mammogram. I was #250 or so out of the 600 women needed for the study.
It’s taken the team almost two years to get to this point. It will take another couple of years to find and test all the subjects, and to answer the hypothesis. Then the results will be published (around 2012?) and somehow become part of the battle. One narrowly defined question, one study, one conclusion — on some days, it may not seem like much. On the other hand, on a certain day, to a certain woman, it may be everything.
Already, one outcome seems probable. Under development is a new way for each mammogram to automatically measure a woman’s breast-tissue density and incorporate that measurement into the image, thus giving more data for interpretation.
Paul Didier’s idea came to him in a dream. We’ve all heard that line before — and may have had a similar experience ourselves.
Paul’s idea was for a chair. A wooden armchair, amply proportioned. Fitted together with joinery, not screws or nails. In his dream, it was fully conceptualised, except for the color of the painted accent panels on its arms. As soon as he woke up, he drew what he had seen, and it was as accurate and build-able as if he’d already plotted and planned it with his drafting and design tools.
We now own that chair. It’s the first in a series of eight prototypes that Paul has constructed over the past 18 months, in what now seems like a natural extension of the work he has done all his adult life. This graphic designer-turned gallery owner-turned fine artist/sculptor-turned licensed contractor has now added custom furniture-making to his resume.
Susan: Were you surprised to have such a dream?
Paul: In the sense that I had already been thinking about chairs for some reason, no. And I learned a long time ago to pay attention to my dreams. But usually my dreams are about specific problems I’m trying to solve. I didn’t put “chair” into that category.
Susan: But to dream such a complete and accurate picture of what you ended up doing …
Paul: That WAS different. But now I’m over the surprise and almost expect all my dreams to be that complete.
Paul decided to paint our chair’s panels red, and he calls the prototype La Rouge.