September 2017 – Andy Peloquin

Andy Peloquin

I am an artist – words are my palette

Month: September 2017

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Why We Art

Art is an integral part of human culture and society. For millennia, people have been using art to communicate thoughts, ideas, emotions, and important information. Some art is beautiful, some is functional, but all is important!

But why do humans feel a need to create art? Why is it impossible to resist the siren’s call of creation? An article on Psychology Today had a fascinating take on it:

Art is beauty. It is beautiful to behold, breathtaking even. We all love beauty, and the idea that we could somehow play a part in bringing this beauty to life is irresistible.

Your art can inspire, dazzle, create an impact, strike an emotional chord, and forge a connection with total strangers. That is magic, of a sort, and something we all want to experience.

Art is evocation. When you see a beautiful pastoral image, you don’t enjoy it because of its greens, blues, and reds. You love it because it brings back those memories of picnics with your sweetheart, laughing and playing with your parents, or enjoying life.

Art evokes memories, bringing back those emotions and sensations you felt. It taps into the stored memories and their associations in your brain, triggering a recall of those events.

Art is communication. Even before we can talk, we’re able to understand simple shapes, colors, and images. Drawings have been around as long as spoken language, and it is one of the oldest forms of communication.

Colors, lines, shapes, and words can all be used to communicate non-verbally. Anyone who encounters that art will receive at least a glimpse of the message you’re trying to share. Your words can only carry as far as the sound of your voice—the message in art can travel around the world.

Art is human. Animals can be TAUGHT to create art—as so many elephants, apes, and gorillas have been—but it is only humans that are innately artistic. Perhaps it has something to do with our higher consciousness, or something else, but suffice it to say that only humans are born with the need to color, draw, trace, paint, or even carve lines into the sand as a means of communication or creation.

 

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Is Conflict Good or Bad?

We all know that every good book revolves around conflict—it’s only when your characters are thrown up against an obstacle, challenge, or threat that they truly shine.

However, outside the pages of fiction, most of us tend to avoid conflict as much as possible. After all, life is so much easier without that sort of struggle. Better to avoid “rocking the boat” or pissing off the wrong people, right?

Well, according to one article on Psychology Today, your perspective determines whether conflict is a good or bad thing. With the right outlook, conflict can make your situation A LOT better!

A study conducted at MIT involved students divided into two groups: the first group were graded against each other (on the curve), while the other group was given an average grade for the entire group.

When the inevitable inter-personal conflicts came, the two groups responded differently:

  • The first group saw the conflicts as “win-lose” situations. This led them to become defensive or attack their “competitors”.
  • The second group treated their conflicts like shared problems that needed to be resolved together in cooperation with each other in order to make progress on their ultimate goal: getting good grades as a group.

The article didn’t say which group got better grades, but that’s not the takeaway from this piece. Instead, the really important thing is to realize that our attitudes toward conflict will determine the outcome.

If we see it as an “either I win or he/she does”, the ultimate outcome will be a hostile environment filled with people going on the offensive or getting defensive. On the other hand, if we treat conflicts as a problem shared by two people—neither of whom stands to lose or gain more than the other—it’s easier to find common ground and take steps to solve the problem.

This image sums it up better than anything I could say:

 

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Why We Remember Faces But RARELY Names

Whenever I meet new people, I try my best to remember their names but just have SUCH a hard time of it. I’ll remember their faces for years after we’ve met, but I’m lucky to remember their name for more than a few minutes.

I always considered myself a bit of an odd case, but it turns out that particular trait isn’t as unique to me as I’d thought. Two psychologists gave an interesting insight into as to why faces are so much easier to remember than names:

Names referring to people are arbitrary and totally unrelated to anything we’re familiar with. We can recognize apples, cars, and knives by their shape, but there’s no way to remember why some person is named James, Bob, or Matilda. They just are, with no connection in our minds.

Names are long, sometimes with 3 or more strung together. To remember someone accurately, you need to remember ALL the names, not just the easy first name. Even worse, some people (Chiwetel Ejiofor, Saoirse Ronan, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) have names that are hard to pronounce, much less remember.

There are no synonyms to names. While “shoes” is a synonym for clogs, pumps, and rocket boots, “Bill” isn’t a synonym for Harold, Wilhelm, or Ulrich.

On the other hand:

Faces can resemble other faces we’ve seen. You have no idea how many people have told me, “You remind me of X family member”, usually due to my height, but sometimes my blue eyes, brown hair, or some other facial feature. Our mind can make connections and find the “synonyms” with other faces.

Shapes are easier to remember than sounds. Children can learn the SHAPE of letters faster than they learn the sounds. Babies know what circles look like before they recognize the word “circle”. Studies have proven that we remember what we see more than what we hear.

Your brain places more emphasis on visual stimuli than auditory. One study found that visual stimuli (emotion-eliciting pictures) could modulate the response to loud, sharp, unexpected, and abrupt sounds, but sounds didn’t alter the reaction to visual stimuli. Another study found that we react to the SIGHT of threats more than the SOUND of them.

The information here won’t help you be any better at remembering the names of the people you meet—you’ll have to find other tips and tricks for that—but at least it gives you an understanding of WHY you remember faces so much more easily.

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