A Creative Character

Here is what seems like an appropriate thought for the time of my life in which I’m at. That is: is creativity a character trait, rather than a way of doing things? If so, is it opposed by other personality forces for example neuroticism, or conscientiousness? Can creativity be controlled; is it a free and spontaneous spirit? Last week, I watched part two of ‘The Great Personality Test: Child of Our Time,’ in which a theorem of [negative] correlation between creativity and conscientiousness couldn’t have been made more logical.

In a psychological experiment, the children who are being documented and their parents were [unknowingly] arranged into predominant personality traits of ‘openness’ and of ‘consciencousness’ in character, where they sat, in semicircular form as though in a life drawing class, colouring in a Warhol-esque template of Professor Robert Winston. A scene not dislike the Van Gogh colour-by-numbers exercise that Julia Robert’s gives her disciplined History of Art class in ‘Mona Lisa’s Smile’ emerged. The participants were asked to colour by a certain selection of rules applying to neatness of line and realism of colour. Midway through the allotted time, they were then corrected, and the rules demolished, so that the remainder of the drawing could be as ‘creative’ as the artist allowed it to be.

The conscientious couldn’t stray from the originally imposed laws, and in obsession to precision, most didn’t finish. One ‘open’ character on the other hand felt imprisoned for the first part and created an out-of-the-box, out of the lines drawing.

I am the behaved child, who has to consciously stray from the set rules – I may have the skills of a craftsman, but not the spontaneity or ingenuity of an artist. Another comparison would be to learning styles: I am not an activist learner – I don’t try first and improve from mistakes later on. I am considered and planned – a theoretical learner. This is exactly what ‘Decisions’ discussed – an ingenuity in risk-taking. This is why my art teacher referred to me as Desperate Housewives’ perfectionist Bree Van De Kamp – I cogitate my action to the expense of time, and to the lack, sometimes, of freedom into creativity.

It is not stubbornness, or stupidity that has caused me to find little care to warm to ‘open’ contemporary art in the past, it is conscientiousness! An inbuilt preference in my character to the way things are carried out and completed. So you see why perhaps it appears we were born to do a certain profession, and why it is that I have felt the study of History of Art, the subject that it is, and the style of learning it requires, suits my very personality.

In my explorations I came across another psychological experiment – ‘Does the art you enjoy match your personality?’ in which they made two fascinating generations from their results which relate to this discussion: People who like representational paintings may be more conscientious than average, like me. And People who are open to new experiences are less likely to enjoy looking at realistic paintings. They seek something more atypical and challenging.

So OK Contemporary Art Phobes, here is your moment of validation – your opportunity to shed feelings of optimism that you might ever be turned to the Avant Garde side. I’ve found you an excuse! Scientific reason why you (if you fit this description) have the reason to not like the art you detest.

Here is my nugget of thought on creativity and conscientiousness: Openness in character is related to a non-conformity and originality in problem solving, and thus is expressed in creativity. This seems highly logical to me that artists thus are open people – more than craftsman they are willing to, and inspired to experiment – to be practical activists who tuck into their skills relentlessly and without regret. This to me is an insightful thought – it relates to so many things I have considered, such as: Is artistic talent nature or nurture? How can you teach students to be good at art – what is effective art education? How can you identify geniuses of art?

If people with this creative character continue to be born, as they do, then it is certain the art’s inspiration will never run dry, as I suggested could be true in ‘Contemporary art – A Reason to Embrace 4.’ There are people whose openness to art and its power and possibilities, extends beyond the box and outside of the outlines of a paint-by-numbers. Art lives on in people. Thus our faith in the future of art, is in the character of the artists who create.


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