As in last year’s post about fidgeting and health, it appears there is solid research to support my notion that wandering helps creativity. Regular readers know my habit when traveling is to walk for hours, taking photos that later serve as reference material in my painting studio. And when I paint, my habit is to stand, gesture, step away, and repeat.
Turns out that activity – walking, or just standing – is better than sitting or lying down when it comes to creative tasks. Research reported in Psychology Today found that roaming freely, versus walking in proscribed directions, worked best of all. The hypothesis: being active consumes more bandwidth in the brain, so the brain’s control center exerts less authority over thoughts, allowing your mind to be more flexible.
This truly doesn’t surprise me. Less structured time has always been appealing, despite my tendency to fill my weeks with client work, lunches, book groups, theater, Pilates, board meetings… Travel offers me the opportunity to just be. I can have new experiences, with no schedule other than catching a plane or train. These interludes have proven to be incredibly important for my creativity.
Wandering around a new place inspires me to take hundreds of photographs and lots of notes. These help me create paintings when I return to my studio, full of excitement about what I experienced and ready to share it with others. Here’s an example. These “thumbnail” sketches are based on photos taken in Greece, and will soon turn into a series of paintings of Chania, an ancient port city in Crete.