Nurturing Curiosity

“The wisdom begins in wonder”  Socrates

One of my artist friends talks about the importance in focusing art work to things that you care about. I add  “and things you are curious about.”

I can not think of an artist who is not driven by curiosity. Curiosity is the joy of exploration that drives learning, critical thinking and reasoning. When I use my sketchbook to capture the folds of fabric, the gesture of a figure, or the texture of tree bark I am choosing those subjects to explore because I am curious. I am curious about how I might use a drawing tool to convey my observations, use a technique for personal expression, or if I can translate all the nuances of the form that I am observing. Sometimes my inner critic will try to usurp my curiosity by distracting me with negative messages. If I deeply care about what I am doing and have deep curiosity about it, this diminishes the power that the inner critic would like to have.

Research suggests that intellectual curiosity has as as big of effect on performance as hard work. When put together, curiosity and hard work account for success just as much as intelligence. Another study found that people who were curious about a topic retained what they learned for longer periods of time. And even more impressive, research has linked curiosity to a wide range of important behaviors including tolerance of anxiety, and uncertainty, positive emotions, humor, playfulness, out-of-box thinking, and a noncritical attitude — all attributes associated with healthy outcomes. As a teacher this was important asset in the class room for students and now is important asset for me to remember in my own work.

People in the arts who are open and curious orient their lives around an appreciation of novelty and a strong urge to explore, discover, and grow. As I practice a daily habit to use my sketchbook as my workbook, my goal is to do do just that. It is one of my tools to nurture my own curiosity.

It is curiosity that moves me forward.

Sources for research cited:

Science Daily

Wiley Online Library