Though the phrase bright ideas is meant to refer to clever ones it’s more often used to mean the opposite. As in, “hmmmm, yeah Joe, that’s one way to do it. Anyone else got any bright ideas.” In this case, poor Joe’s idea has actually been determined stupid and whoever said this is using the phrase to warn others to avoid his failure and submit a better one. Over the years in brainstorming sessions for my various day job projects, people have often started each meeting with, “Keep ’em coming. There are no bad ideas.”  This is meant to avoid editing out ideas too soon. In theory, it’s a good one, and manages to flood a white board with lots of words, but goes nowhere unless someone is willing to truly judge them. The truth is, there are bad ideas and perfectly stupid ones, but the key is looking for the hidden gems of truth that might be waiting inside each of them. Little notions that when put together in a different order form something entirely new and clever. For me, this is where the magic happens. Taking a series of bizarre and odd notions and knitting them back together into something that makes a heck of a lot of sense.

I’ve been a Creative Director for over 20 years now, mostly because I don’t really know how to do anything else professionally. While I have a myriad of various skills, when you mash them all together, there’s no other job they create. It’s been my job throughout my career to discover, develop, and nourish bright ideas from inception to their final ultimate birth. And it’s also why when I attend family gatherings of my more rurally-inclined extended family, my job is distilled down to, “he works with computers.” In truth, it’s perfectly impossible to truly explain what I do each day. I observe and listen and watch and wait for an idea to appear. I then pounce on it, nudge it next to another idea, and point at the resulting casserole declaring, “there’s the solution.” When I spent time in a corporate environment, this always required some sort of PowerPoint show to get the idea across and tell the story. Often with animation and music to help lure them in. The resulting epiphany can often produce awe in the audience, even though I’m simply restating their ideas, remastered in a combination that finally makes sense.

I have ideas of my own, of course, but for me it’s always been more fun to help the ideas of others come to fruition. Perhaps that’s why this site is primarily focused on other artists rather than myself. I think the best ideas are the ones that bump into one another. They’re never quite complete on their own, but can become extraordinary when combined with bits and notions from others. Our Doodlewash Club is an example. I had a notion to build a community and then the community arrived and made it what it needed to be. I didn’t build the sidewalks until I saw the path the people themselves created. My advice in all of this is that when you have a notion of something you’d like to do, you should tell anyone who will listen and listen to what they have to say about it. Don’t take the sage advice at face value, but let it blend with all the other advice you receive. That cocktail of creation that forms in your mind is the very path you should pursue. It might be a little fuzzy at first, but after time it will reveal itself. And if you ever find yourself struggling, simply turn and ask whatever group might be near you, “Does anyone else have any bright ideas?”

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About the Doodlewash

Da Vinci Paint Co.: Da Vinci Yellow, Benzimida Orange, Quinacridone Red, and Cobalt Blue.  Lamy Al-Star Safari Fountain Pen with sepia ink in an A5 Hahnemühle Watercolour Book.
 #WorldWatercolorGroup - Day 9 - Bright Ideas Light Bulb - Doodlewash

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36 thoughts on “Bright Ideas

  1. Nice post Charlie. Listening is indeed a skill in short supply these days. And I love that you always give credit to others for their ideas, even as you make them into something more complete. (K)

    1. Thanks so much, Kerfe! 😃💕 Yeah, when I was truly in advertising there were always award ceremonies and I would insist my designers take the stage. One of my designers once insisted I join. He said, I wouldn’t have put it together that way. That was probably the best award I could have received.

  2. This light bulb is spectacular 💕 You art keeps getting better, and brighter!
    I knew you like to encourage others when I first saw your guest artist posts. It’s a wonderful thing to do, an ambition for sharing and building up.
    Reading a book right now from A.A. Milne (Whinnie-ther-Pooh). Called “Two People” (we found a 1st edition from the 1930s!). The main character is a writer, whose wife and friends have no clue what it means to him; kind of like your comment about others saying you “work on computers”.

    1. Aww I’ve not read that book, but now I want too! 😃💕 I’ve so thrilled you liked this and think my art is getting better. I probably should think the new scanner Philippe bought me for Christmas. hehe…. it’s light years better and shows more accurately what I drew!

      1. I’m almost finished with the book and so far it’s annoying; wouldn’t recommend it! The main character is so shallow and not very nice. Some other characters are nice enough to keep reading. Please tell me what kind of scanner you have? Got a new one last year; it’s better but limited due to size of the scanner bed. Isn’t it wonderful when the scan actually looks like your work? 💕🙂

          1. Definitely, I think it’s out of print, anyway? I started out liking the character but then he sneers at everyone inside his head. Near the end, he’s starting to realize what a derp he is haha, so probably a happy ending! Thanks for the link, a scanner that can do all that, and do it well, is amazing! 🙂

  3. With a Ph.D. in Plant Physiology, I ended up as a science writer at a major university, generally writing about plants. Faculty, in their myopic vision, give me way too many details about genome sequencing and DNA; then I translate it so that artists and anyone else in the world can understand it and see value in it. My extended family says of me, “she grows plants.” My nieces and nephews call me Aunt Plant. I appreciate YOUR family saying, “he works with computers.” Tee hee

    1. hehe!! That’s so awesome, Ann! 😃💕 Reminds me of Philippe’s job which is similar and equally difficult to explain. But I think telling a story that anyone can relate to is a true gift and that, in the end, is what we really do. Even if others can’t quite describe it. 😉

  4. I love this line, Charlie: “I had a notion to build a community and then the community arrived and made it what it needed to be.” But you did create the space and the incentive for everyone to paint and communicate about art – you are the best kind of teacher.

    As for the lightbulb portrait – it’s really luminous. Something fantastic is gathering in the glass globe.

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