Creativity in everyday life – Intuition

Intuition is also the friend of creativity if you let it.  There are many ways to stimulate your creativity according to the book ‘Wired to create’ by @Scott B. Kaufman and Carolyn Gregoire (2015).  Known to us as a ‘gut feeling’, intuition is that unconscious nudge that pushes us into action or that nagging feeling that we should keep going without really knowing why. 

Kaufman and Gregoire say that intuition is a form of thinking and it arises from the link between conscious and subconscious. We need both. This interaction between the two helps us think, reason and create. You have the conscious mind that is more effortful and controlled and the subconscious that may be faster and more sophisticated.  Both are needed for the creative process. As we move between the two, we get flashes of insight. Studies have shown that different regions of the brain are triggered at different times in the creative process.

According to studies, Kaufman and Gregoire suggest that there are steps to creating that insight. A good mood helps as it broadens your attention.  Focus on happier thoughts.  It is important to note that like most theories, there are exceptions and some people get their best ideas in a bad mood. If you had to choose, which would you pick? I would go for the happy mood myself.   

Build up your knowledge base of a particular subject you are interested in or stimulate your brain with a new subject and you will be on your way to priming your brain for action.  However, there is one problem. In the book Outliers by@ Malcolm Gladwell 

 said that 10,000 hours are needed to master a skill. Sometimes, more than that.   Check out this article:

After you have enough knowledge of your subject, there comes delaying action and playing around with ideas (which I mentioned in an earlier blog) and this is a necessary step.   You should take the time to just let the moment happen. So, in my world, that means allowing some time to just play with the ideas.  Let the ideas come and go.  Make a small painting or two using your ideas. Discard the bad ones and keep the better ones. 

The authors also say that you should also allow yourself new or unusual experiences. Explore you interests that you don’t usually have time for.  If you like diving out of airplanes, go now.  Explore interests that you haven’t spent time on yet like collecting fossils, for example. If you have always wondered how Persian carpets are made, look it up.  These activities should follow your interests.  The important part is giving yourself time to do them.The desire to learn and discover are more important than any other factors.  This drive for exploration is what provides the raw materials for the ‘insight’.

The insight happens during what is called Flow. A flow state, also known colloquially as being in the zone. At this stage, a person performs an activity, is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and enjoyment in the process of the activity. In essence, flow is characterized by the complete absorption in what one does, and a resulting loss in one’s sense of space and time.

Named by Mihály Csíkszentmihályi in 1975, the concept of flow has been adopted by many creativity experts. Kaufman and Gregoire say that what disrupts the familiar is what leads to new ideas.  A balance between the intellectual, imaginative, aesthetic and emotional realm is important for creative work.  Habit and convention are creativity killers. But, to create change that will trigger ideas, you don’t have to move to another country, just try something new.  Try new skill, a trip to art galleries, a new food, a new kind of movie, a documentary on something that you have never heard of before and so on. 

Mindfulness and flow go hand in hand.  Remember that mindfulness is focussing on what you are doing in the moment.  The roots of Mindfulness come from Buddhism. Like flow, mindfulness became popular in the 1970’s.  Artists like Leonard Cohen adopted Buddhist beliefs and started practicing the basic principles.  Steve Jobs, co-founder, chief executive and chairman of Apple Computers, is another person who adopted Buddhist beliefs and mindfulness in particular. 

In more recent times, mindfulness has been used to increase functioning abilities in executives in order to increase concentration and flexibility in every day life. Mindfulness is also linked to greater memory, sense of self, empathy and stress. The goal is to be present when those good thoughts arrive and remember them.

So what can you do?  Kaufman and Gregoire present some interesting ideas that some of their research revealed.  One person in their study wrote down one item every day that caught her attention or was ‘interesting’. This was material that made her more present in her life and made her notice what was around her. She was a seeker of interesting and a collector of interesting things.

What can we do as artists to imitate this idea?

-Draw one item a day.

-First thing in the morning, look outside.  Draw the feeling.

-Take 5 minutes in your day and stop. Close your eyes. Smell.

-When you eat a new food, eat it slowly. Draw it. 

-Sit for one minute and look around you.  What do you see? What catches your eye?

Going back to the beginning, intuition, flow and mindfulness are all interlinked. Observation is the one skill that is closely linked to creativity.  According to Kaufman and Gregoire, the one skill that creatives need to disobey is acting with awareness, because it restricts mind wandering, one of the key components of creativity.  So as artists if we work on our projects, we work them one at a time.  I have a hard time doing this.  Mixed media work needs time to dry so I tend to work on 3-5 projects at a time but there is one point in the painting where I focus on just the single work.  This is near the end of the project.  I let my ideas flow just for that one work.  Your challenge is to try this and see if it works for you.  Find the right routine that will lead to better and better work.

I hope this helps you.

Doris’ website:

I have creativity courses and art courses online at:

For more information on mixed media by Doris Charest:

All photography and artwork by Doris Charest

Thanks for reading, and please do recommend, like, share, comment, etc. Thanks.

Till next time …

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