Creativity is not a ‘divine inspiration’, magic or ‘accident’. It is a process of conscious intellectual endeavour of mathematical precision. Artists don’t idly make assumptions. They actively engage their brains to continuously challenge preconceptions.
“Assume nothing, question everything,” Socrates said. Assumptions are enemies of creativity, questioning solves problems. But questioning is not easy: not only do you have to ask new questions, you have to find new answers. Although, if you have the know-how, creativity becomes less difficult and good ideas come easier to you.
Piero della Francesca ( 1415-92 ), an Italian mathematician-turned-painter, lived at the time when the flat, two-dimensional Gothic style of Middle Ages was replaced by the three-dimensional style of Antiquity. He asked: “Can mathematics represent three-dimensional objects in art?”
He began ‘building’ his paintings out of architectural elements of highly accurate perspectives, rendered them in precise light and shadow, and cleared compositions of all clutter.
When a convincing illusion of depth and mass was achieved, Piero posed another question: ‘If one can paint an illusion of a three-dimensional object, can he paint an illusion of an empty space?”
Constructing vast expanses and voids, he became known as a ‘painter of air’, the ultimate illusion, and for the last 20 years of his life, wrote treatises about his pictorial discoveries.
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