What Makes Artists Different: Messy Minds, by Wendy DeRaud

Do I contradict myself? Very well, then I contradict myself. I am large, I contain multitudes.

Walt Whitman



"Abyss A-Go-Go", oil on canvas, Mark DeRaud




Part of what makes artists so weird is that we have messy minds.

Mark is the poster boy for messiness of mind. He is a visionary with a brilliant mind, but the act of using his mind to come up with new ideas can be so messy. For me, watching the process can throw me into a tailspin. It’s called living on the edge. Life has been an adventure being married to Mark, a roller coaster ride, but it is a way for me to learn to trust, trust him and trust God.

Most people crave stability and predictability, because living with uncertainty can be hard and confusing. But it's the state of uncertainty where creative invention thrives. Creation occurs when we think out of the box and see things differently. Outside the box can be scary, because it's unknown territory. But venturing into the unknown is what artists love to do.

Being married to Mark, I have learned that thinking is an activity. From the outside, people can and often do judge thinkers like him as being lazy-good-for-nothing slackers. This is far from the truth, they are constantly thinking, working on new ideas. They are conniving, weighing, figuring, sorting, comparing, contrasting, throwing ideas out and starting all over again. It can be exhausting work.

Mark likes to make connections between seemingly disparate ideas, bringing them together into something new. He wants to originate an idea that no one, or very few, have thought of before. Or he looks to rediscover an ancient truth that has been forgotten, and find new connections. 

The creative mind doesn't function the same way as a rational mind does, it is much more complex and messy. It doesn't follow a linear pattern, but rather, it has the shape of a mandala or a visual mind-map with dozens of thought-bubbles connected together.




We are not taught to think like this in school, and only in rare GATE classes is this kind of thinking encouraged or acknowledged. This explains why so many of us feel out of place in the systems of our culture, including school, church and the workplace.

In the institutional church especially, maintaining the status quo and the chosen traditions and vision of the pastor is what is desired, but be careful not to add any messiness. Artists usually feel unwelcome or out of place in these kinds of churches, but would be drawn to a place of innovation, experimentation, and vision-casting.

The early church's sensibilities seem to be more in keeping with the the artists' way, it seems:



        Take no thought for tomorrow...


                      Don't plan ahead what you're going to say, but wait for the Spirit to teach you....



I don't think I'm taking these sentiments out of context that, while I see that there is a need for order in church services, there is an openness to the Spirit expressed here that seems more in keeping with the artists mind.



Next: What Makes Artists Different, Daydreams