Intelligence Having Fun

"Creativity is intelligence having fun." – Albert Einstein

What traits do creative people share? Dean Keith Simonton discusses the science behind creative accomplishment in the Winter 2014 issue of Scientific American Mind magazine.

Julie Playing the Violin by Berthe Morisot, 1893, oil painting.
Julie Playing the Violin by Berthe Morisot, 1893, oil painting.

Although we may never be certain how large a role nature may play in a person's tendency to be creative or how much hard work and tenacity may expand a person's abilities, there are some key tendencies that are commonly found in highly creativity individuals.

One of these is cognitive disinhibition. Because humans are inundated with data, we have developed mental filters that allow us to process out that data which is irrelevant or not necessary to us at the time. Cognitive disinhibition is a failure to keep those irrelevant ideas out of our conscious awareness. A positive side to this is that In creative individuals it may allow a wider range of ideas to be considered when pursuing solutions to problems.

All this may go hand-in-hand with the fact that many well-known creative geniuses had extraneous hobbies that seemingly were unrelated to their areas of focus. Einstein took the time to practice the classics on the violin. Galileo studied the visual arts. Perhaps these distractions allowed their brains time to relax and digest information from their primary endeavors. It is also likely that ideas sparked from these disparate hobbies may have provided creative insights into the areas of their primary focus. Amassing knowledge across domains may be one of the most important traits of the creative genius.

Creative people tend to be able to generate a great variety of ideas, but, generating a large volume of ideas is useless unless one is willing to explore the most interesting ones as far as they will lead. The crucial mental trait in all this seems to be the creative person's willingness to fail, and then back up to a previous idea or stage and try that avenue. Repeatedly. 

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–John and Ann


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John Hulsey and Ann Trusty

About John Hulsey and Ann Trusty

John Hulsey and his wife, Ann Trusty created the website, The Artist's Road - Painting the World's Beautiful Places.  The Artist's Road inspires with practical art tips and painting techniques for the traveling artist, video painting tutorials and demonstrations, workshop resources, artist profiles and interviews and remarkable painting locations.  The Artist's Road is an artist community for oil, watercolor and pastel artists.  Articles cover intriguing art travel experiences artists have had while painting the world's beautiful places. "I believe I must speak through my art, for the preservation of Nature and the natural landscape from which I take my inspiration and living." John Hulsey is an accomplished artist, author and teacher who has been working professionally for over thirty years. In addition to producing new work for exhibition and teaching workshops, Mr. Hulsey continues to write educational articles about painting for national art magazines, including Watercolor magazine and American Artist Magazine. He has been selected as a "Master Painter of the United States" by International Artist Magazine where his work was previously chosen to be included in the top ten of their international landscape painting competition. He was awarded residencies at Yosemite, Glacier and Rocky Mountain National Parks. "I strive in my art to celebrate the mysteries of Nature - the fleeting light on the landscape, the unimaginable diversity of creatures, the beauty of each leaf and flower." Ann Trusty  is an accomplished third generation artist whose work embodies the natural world and is created through direct observation and translation of her subjects into her paintings. She has found inspiration in the dancing light across the water of the Hudson River (where she had a studio for ten years), as well as the big sky and waving tall grasses of the open plains of the Midwest (her current home). Her work has been exhibited throughout the United States, France and Turkey in both museum and gallery exhibitions, and has been reviewed favorably by the New York Times.