Have you ever wondered how to be more creative in art? Finding the best time of day to get work done can be a great start. Are your powers of observation greater in the morning or do you find you’re more creative at night? And, just what are circadian rhythms and how do these affect you?
For most of us, each day revolves around a set routine we’ve been following since childhood. We get up in the morning, go to school or work, come back in the evening and go to bed. However, if you’re trying to get more creative, it can sometimes help to shake things up a bit (assuming your lifestyle allows for this).
Here are 5 ways to find the best times to become more creative. These all depend on you as an individual, so experiment and see which method generates better results for you.
Are you at your most creative in the morning or at night?
1. Are You A Day Or A Night Person?
Right from our first day at school, we’re told our brains are more attentive in the morning. And, while the working routines of many artists would seem to back this theory up, there’s also a significant body of research that suggests some of us just aren’t wired up this way. So, when it comes to learning how to be more creative in art, it seems we’re all different.
The Morningness-Eveningness questionnaire (MEQ) was devised by researchers in 1976 to determine the circadian rhythms of an individual. Although now more than 30 years old, this set of 19 questions can still be a useful tool when learning how to be more creative in art.
Why not have a go at the questionnaire yourself? The results may be surprising and you might even be able to find the peak time for your creativity.
Whatever the results, it’s important to remember that everyone is different. History reveals lots of artists who preferred to get their work done in the wee small hours, while others were keen advocates of getting up early and letting inspiration work its magic.
The famous French painter, Henri De Toulouse-Lautrec, preferred to set up his easel and depict the, ahem, colorful world of Parisian nightlife, while famous American author, Thomas Wolfe waited until the midnight hours before sitting down at his typewriter.
Conversely, many artists preferred to get to work shortly after waking up, with English novelist, Somerset Maugham, once saying: ““I write only when inspiration strikes. Fortunately it strikes every morning at nine o’clock sharp.”
Some researchers have found we’re actually more creative when we’re tired. Perhaps even this cat feels inspired!
2. Feeling Tired? This Could Be When You’re At Your Most Creative
During the day, the part of our brain called the frontal cortex is working hard to process the information we take in. This is known as ‘working memory’ – it’s how our brains record everything you hear, touch and see. As we start to get tired, our frontal cortex slows down, making it more difficult to concentrate on things. Have you noticed how your attention span gets a lot shorter when your eyelids start drooping?
How can this help if you’re discovering how to be more creative in art? Although you might find it more difficult to concentrate on things, it doesn’t mean you’re not at your most creative when you get tired. Your frontal cortex may be taking a well-earned rest, but the other parts of your brain are filling in the gaps – meaning you’re free to explore ideas without letting logic get in the way too much. That’s why you might find that brilliant idea for a painting comes to you as you’re dropping off to sleep.
And, talking of sleep, some theories even suggest our dream patterns are very similar to the creative process. There could be some truth in this. Think of the way random ideas are joined together in dreams – you’re able to make connections between things that might usually be a little trickier to find.
Understanding how the circadian clock works can help you become more creative
3. Understanding Circadian Rhythm And The Circadian Clock
Circadian rhythm is a biological process which takes place during a 24-hour period. This oscillation (a repetitive variation) is driven by the circadian clock – a highly regulated internal ‘clock’ present in all mammals (including humans). It dictates your wake-sleep cycle and is influenced by external features, such as exposure to light. Take a look at the diagram above – it explains how things such as blood pressure, hormone production and body temperature are all dependent on the time of day. Naturally, this also means you’ll be more attentive at certain times of the day than at others.
What does this mean for you? According to recent research carried out by The Department of Psychology at Michigan State University, most people have counterintuitive circadian rhythms. This means that ‘morning people’ (those whose brains function better with analytical tasks such as problem-solving early in the day) will be more creative in the evenings, while ‘evening’ people (those who find they’re more alert when the sun goes down) will find the opposite is true. Which one are you? Learning how to be more creative might be as simple as making art to fit in with your circadian rhythm.
4. Need An ‘Aha’ Moment? Ease Off The Coffee And Energy Drinks
When most of us are feeling sleepy, our immediate reaction is to reach for the coffee or crack open a can of our favorite energy drink. Why not? After all, we’re told we need to focus on things, avoid distractions and be as mentally alert as possible when working, right?
However, if your goal is to learn how to be more creative in art, you might want to have a chamomile tea instead. According to some other research on creativity and mental alertness carried out by Mark Beeman, a cognitive neuroscientist at Northwestern University, the creative parts of our brains don’t function as well if we’re trying to squeeze them into doing something – especially if we’re trying to stay alert with coffee and stimulating fizzy drinks. In fact, those ‘Aha’ moments are much more likely to occur when you least expect it.
What can you do about this? Mark’s research suggests it’s worth slowing down if you’re trying to work out how to become more creative in art. Those alpha waves (electrical neural oscillations in your brain linked to when we’re feeling most relaxed), are much more likely to do their work if you take a stroll, have a shower, play ping pong etc. So, feel free to chill out – the inspiration you’ve been looking for could be just around the corner.
Eating the right foods at the right times can actually help make us feel healthier and more creative
5. Eat The Right Foods At The Right Times
We all know eating healthy food makes us feel better, but recent research suggests the time you eat can make a real difference to your wellbeing…which can also help you learn how to be more creative in art.
In 2013, researchers at the Yale School of Medicine found a direct link between food intake and your body’s biological clocks. They found there are ‘optimal’ times to eat, which mean the body’s peripheral clocks (found in every cell outside the brain) and the brain’s central clock are synchronized perfectly.
Previous research has suggested that people who disrupt the body’s natural rhythms and eat outside these ‘optimal’ times (such as shift-workers) are more prone to diabetes, depression, obesity and cancer.
Surprisingly, the Yale scientists found that eating two meals a day might be the most beneficial for synchronizing our biological clocks.
What can you do? If you’re an early riser, the researchers suggest eating breakfast and lunch but skipping dinner. What if you’re more of a night person? Make lunch and dinner your main meals. Feeling healthy plays a huge role if you want to learn how to be more creative, because you’re more likely to be motivated to make art if you feel good to begin with.
So there you have it – our five insights into how to be more creative in art. We hope they help you get the most out of your creativity. Have you got any of your own tips you’d like to share? Just leave us a comment below.