This article is by Moshe Mikanovsky, Regular contributing writer for FineArtViews. An emerging artist searching his way in the art world, he loves to share what he learns. With over 20 years of technology experience, Moshe combines his technological background and his passion for the arts with the goal of "working his dream". You should submit an article and share your views as a guest author by clicking here.
We have all heard it before. The right side of our brain is the creative side, the side where all the creativity juices are controlled. We learned how to draw using the right side of our brain. Some of us have even taken some aptitude tests to find out which type of job we are suitable for, and part of these tests might have resulted in identifying our dominant hemisphere inside our skulls. We know that if we are mostly right-brained, we might have random thoughts, which help us think of solutions out-of-the-box, our non-verbal communication skills are strong and we are more inclined to explain ourselves in pictures or many words.
But I believe there is much more than that to the right-brain-left-brain conundrum.
I recently came across an amazingly inspiring speech on TED by brain researcher Jill Blote Taylor, who, herself, has gone through a brain hemorrhage and a stroke in the left side of her brain, and was able to give a first hand account, not just as a patient, but also as a brain researcher, as to what actually happens while in this life-threatening and near-death situation. It is worth the full 18 minutes and 42 seconds to watch and listen to Dr. Blote Taylor’s account, minute by minute, and witness her emotional insight.
In her account, Dr. Jill (as she refer to herself on her website), explains how the right hemisphere of our brain is in charge of all the sensors of our present state – seeing, smelling, hearing, tasting, feeling. It is basically responsible for the present, for the here and now. And in the present, it can feel one and whole with the entire universe around it.
The left hemisphere on the other hand, works in a sequential way. It knows and remembers the past. It plans the future. It takes all the information gathered throughout time and processes them to create logical sequences. Basically, it is responsible for the past and the future. While losing, one by one, all her abilities to walk, talk, read, write, and recall her life (all learned abilities controlled by the damaged left-side of her brain), she felt a euphoric sense of new reality, one connected to the world, with her senses heightened and she felt the life force power of each of the molecules making her existence. Only the remaining undamaged part of her left hemisphere helped her saved herself, telling her that something was wrong, and through a painstaking process, she was able to get help.
Dr. Jill’s story and vision of what each side of our brains do, or what we can actually become once we are tuned with our brain, reminded me of a book I recently read, “The Power of Now” by Eckhart Tolle. Being “a guide to spiritual enlightenment” and using my left-side-of-the-brain logic, I was a bit skeptical to the effect of Tolle’s teachings on my life. The concept of living in the present is not new and is taught by psychologists, as well: the past cannot be changed. The future is not here and as much as we plan for it, our actions are always in the present. So there is no other time than the present time and that is the only time we can control. In his book, Tolle explains this concept as the spiritual essence of human beings, wrapping all faiths, their definition of God and spirits, into one central them, the now. He shares his teaching on how to learn to live in the present, and how to achieve, or strive for, spiritual enlightenment, by living in the now.
How does it all circle back to us, as artists?
I think it is more than just being a creative people. More than just utilizing our right-side of the brain in better ways. Think about it. What is art? It is the manifestation of our sensory system in illogical ways. It exists only in the present, as we immerse ourselves in observing and/or creating the art. The more we focus our sensors to what we see, what is around us, we can better represent it in the art form. We forget where we are and who we are and we are just there. At that moment. And our artwork is a manifestation of our inner selves. Other people tap into our present. When they observe our art, it is their present, their sensors telling their right side of their brains that they are seeing something beautiful/great/gruesome/provocative. Our moment in time becomes their moment in time.
But then, we also need to make a living. And that is where our left brain takes control. Planning our future, learning from our past. Calculating how to get there. What we need to learn, what we have to develop. Sometimes it takes over and creates “surviving-art”. Art that will sell well because of marketing studies shows it sells well. Art that makes a lot of money because it is trendy and sought-after. But it might not be us. We reside in the right side of our brain, and we have to train ourselves to tap into it and be our best creative selves.
And that, for us, is a spiritual salvation, isn’t it?