Artwork may hold the key to effective problem-solving

Many years ago I took courses at the Center for Creative Leadership, a world-renowned leadership-development firm.

I worked for Dole at the time, and I guess they had high hopes for my changing the world, or at least improving my portion of the organization.

One of the courses I took was called “Leading Creatively.” I recall it vividly, mostly because of the unique lessons it provided on problem-solving.

Each of us was to come to the course with one or two key business issues that were giving us difficulty. The instructors would use a variety of creative exercises to help us find solutions.

One session involved musical instruments. We chose our instrument (percussion, woodwind, string, brass or keyboard) and developed a melody based on the issue we were grappling with. After our jam session, we were to note how the exercise induced new thoughts or ideas about our dilemma.

Another exercise that really resonated with me involved art. We were taken to a gallery and asked to walk around, stopping at a painting that spoke to us. We were to study the piece of art for an entire half-hour and then write an essay on what the image told us about our problem.

That exercise elicited the most progress from the students in our classroom.

To be honest, it was a bit painful to stand in front of a piece of art for 30 minutes, trying to concentrate on the image rather than think about what was going on back at the office or what might be served for lunch that day.

But after a time, our brains let us settle into the exercise and listen to the message our art choice was trying to tell us.

It’s difficult for me to remember the problem I brought to the session. What seemed very important at that time is now diminished by time and circumstances. However, for many years now I have taken that practice and used it for problem-solving.

I find a piece of art that speaks to me, that evokes a feeling, a reaction, an impression, and I apply that to what is on my mind.

The beauty of art itself is that there are no restrictions, no rules and no boundaries to follow for the artist.

Artists are free to be creative and, in that creativity, they encourage the viewer of their work to have freedom of thought and meaning.

There’s potential richness for this type of exercise, especially with seniors, because we have a sizable amount of life experience that we can apply to our reflections on a piece of art.

I am the grateful recipient of a recent tour through a local artist’s home, where the pieces he showed included African art, original mixed-media art and original photographs. What an eclectic and marvelous collection it was. Had I had more time; I would have loved to ruminate on some of his works.

If you are interested in art— and in viewing and possibly purchasing some interesting pieces—consider attending the Creations and Libations Art Sale benefiting Senior Concerns.

Pre-owned, affordable pieces of art in many media types will be for sale from 4 to 7:30 p.m. Fri., June 21 and from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sat., June 22 at Thousand Oaks Art Gallery, 2331 Borchard Road, Newbury Park. Refreshments will be served.

Come see if any of the art speaks to you. Who knows where it may lead?


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Andrea GallagherAndrea Gallagher

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