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Florida Gulf Coast University
10501 FGCU Blvd, South
Fort Myers, FL 33965-6565
(239) 590-1000 or (800) 590-3428

TIFFANY BILLINGS

CREATIVITY: MIND OVER MATTER

Senior Project APRIL 2017

According to Michael Posner, training in the creative arts influences cognitive processes, whether a person has a natural affinity for art or not. By doing creative activities, you enter a mental state where your ideas flow back and forth between the brain’s two hemispheres, and this increases a person’s attention span. With time and practice, a person increases their ability to focus for much longer periods of time. This has been researched and proven with individuals who are diagnosed with ADHD.


I can relate to this idea because I started with neither a natural affinity for art nor the ability to focus for a long time. I was identified as having ADD. I also have the struggle of not being mathematical, due to a diagnosed nonverbal learning disability. This deficit makes it difficult for me to transfer my ideas in my head onto paper. I also struggle, to see the visual relationships in line, shape, proportion and depth through observation. Through the practice of artistic, cognitive processes, specifically digital painting, I have been able to change and manipulate how my skills are used from one hemisphere to the other. I have learned to adapt my weaknesses into my strength. This process has opened a new pathway for thought and focus in my brain.  This new path of thinking and seeing has accelerated my visualization skills and attention span over time. I have observed that we all can change and manipulate how our skills are used in our brains. This ability improves our weaknesses and turns them into strengths. Using skills, we already have learned, we can develop our creative processes which can be applied to solve any problems we may face.


My banners are vertical, 110 x 50”, to create a visual flow to the eye. My intent is to show through art we can all evolve from being line dependent to being able to see form in light and shadow instead. These examples show how a more logical thinker would draw something when compared to a more creative personality. For my digital paintings, I use Photoshop with brushes of different textures. Using textured brushes, I lay down base values going from dark to light, in gray scale, to get the correct values. This initial stage helps me develop my compositions. Once the structure is determined I begin to sculpt and blend values together to create form. I continue this process by adding layers of detail and soft and hard edges to create either a smooth or a painterly look. Once satisfied, I add lighting and color to the piece and repeat the process until I am happy. These pieces are a combination of soft and hard edges to create an optical illusion of detail to the eye. The scale is important because when printed up close, you can see every pixel and texture, but from far away it is smooth, which allows for more depth of the details. Digital painting is the building up of layers and opacity to create realism and form in a piece. Overall, I want the viewer to be aware that through the practice of opposing cognitive skills we can all learn to access and balance the harmony between logical and creative thinking. This is the key that can allow us all to be creative.