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Saturday, February 25, 2017

Intuition & Instinct - The 2 II's of a Successful Artist

Intuition and Instinct (2II) are not things that can be taught in school. Intuition and Instinct are things that take time to develop. Some people may think that instinct and intuition are basically the same thing, but their not. Intuition is the idea, instinct is the direction the idea takes.

Let me give you an example. I was recently working on a project with a piece of wood where it was necessary for effect to burn parts of the wood. Once I'd worked out the best way to achieve this, I began burning the wood. Suddenly my intuition pinged. It clearly said "watch this closely. There is something else here". So as I worked away at the project, part of me was also watching how the wood burned, what it looked like at various points in the burning and what other things might be achieved through it.

Mind you, the conscious part of me was carefully working on the project before me, but another almost totally unconscious part of me was watching for something totally unrelated to the project at hand.

After the process was completed, I could see potentials for other forms which might use a burning process. I got a chance to go back and explore the burning process alone and experiment with it as a technique, rather than a way towards accomplishing a specific goal, as I was doing in the first project. This was my instinct telling me that I'd recognized a potentially new art technique and that I should now go to the next level on it.

This combination of the 2II's has worked countless times for me. Awhile back I was doing some work with Burning Man. I was monitoring their remote video feed and doing screen captures of some of the more interesting scenes the video was showing. The goal for the project was strictly to catch some of the great art being seen. But I also took time to clean up the screen captures before posting them. Like the wood burning project, that ping of intuition sounded and I started watching what I was doing with that more abstract part of my brain. Over the course of a few weeks, I'd taken the simple screen capture project and started monitoring remote feed cameras in other places to create a series of screen shot art which took the basic image to a much higher level.

Again it was the Intuition that alerted me to watch, but the instinct that pushed me to explore what my intuition alerted me to.

Its a challenge sometimes to pay attention to when intuition speaks. Its not something you can just say "okay I'm listening" and expect an instant answer. Inspiration comes when it wishes, not at our command. But by leaving yourself open to the possibility that your intuition can and does speak to you, allows you to hear it more clearly. I know for me that I recognize it because I get a funny feeling inside, almost like the sensation you get when your on an amusement park ride. That sort of flip flop your stomach sometimes does. Now I know enough to realize what that feeling is and open my eyes and mind up when it happens.

And after you hear it, Instinct kicks in. When it takes over, it is using everything you've ever learned to seek out something new and unexpected.

A lot of people ask me where I get my best ideas from. There are many ways to get ideas. But by honing my 2II's I can create a constant idea generator. One piece of art leads to new ideas and variations which leads to new techniques which leads to more art and so on. It creates closed circle which feeds itself.

In the end if you think of Intuition as the furnace and Instinct as the coal burning in the furnace, it will help you define the whole process. 

There are a lot of other skills artists should develop. The 2II's tend to get overlooked. We concentrate on skill, but we forget that these are skills also. We think of these things are metaphysical. They aren't real. They are merely flights of fantasy. But isn't that what art is? 

You are still an artist without either of the 2II's, because at its base art comes from the techniques you learn. But if you want to really take those techniques further, then developing the 2II's allows you to stop mimicking technique and start making technique that others can mimic.


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