March 02, 2011

Positive Sign #1


Christine Wong Yap, Positive Signs #1 (Five Steps of the Creative Process), 2011, glitter pen on gridded vellum, 8.5 x 11 in / 21.5 x 28 cm. Five Steps of the Creative Process. Preparation: immersion into a set of ideas. Incubation of ideas beneath the threshold of concsciousness. Insight: the aha moment. Evaluation: determining worth of idea for pursuit. Elaboration: Developing the work. A caveat: This classic analytic framework... gives a severely distorted picture if taken too literally.... The creative process is less linear than recursive. Mihaly Csikzentmihalyi, Creativity, 1996, 80.

A weekly series of interpretive diagrams, quotes, and speculations on creativity, optimism and the lives of artists.*

Positive Signs is an attempt to share my research into positive psychology with artists and art enthusiasts.

In the course of examining optimism, pessimism, and happiness in my art for the past few years, these themes have formed a feedback loop winding through my art, life, and attitudes. I have become endlessly fascinated with how individuals make their lives in the arts, and what keeps them motivated and resilient.

In my research, I have come across interesting findings in positive psychology, a branch of psychology that encompasses wellness and optimal experience. I hope to share some ideas that might help artists maintain optimistic outlooks. For the general public, contemporary artists’ lives may seem shrouded in mystery or rarefied discourse. I hope to increase popular understanding about artists’ lives, concerns, and enthusiasms.

Every Wednesday through June, I’ll post a selection of new works on paper, specifically, drawings with glitter and neon pen on gridded vellum, with occasional foil printing. I often see my works as opportunities for trust or skepticism, and so I welcome dialogue, debate or response.

*Notwithstanding brief forays into the nature of space, stuff, experience, and cognition.


With thanks to the following authors, and apologies to Edward Tufte.

Csikszentmihalyi, Mihaly. Creativity: Flow and the Psychology of Discovery and Invention. New York: Harper Collins, 1996. [ listing]

Lakoff, George and Mark Johnson. Metaphors We Live By. Chicago and London: The University of Chicago Press, 1980. [ listing]

Ruppersberg, Allen, Allan McCollum, and Frédéric Paul. Allen Ruppersberg: books, inc. Limoges, France: FRAC Limousin, 1999. [ listing]

Seligman, Martin E. P. Learned Optimism. New York: Free Press, 1990. [ listing]

Tuan, Yi-Fu. Space and Place: The Perspective of Experience. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota, 1977. [ listing]

Next Wednesday: Positive Sign #2: The 10 Dimensions of Creative Personalities.

Comments (1)

  • been to sfmoma in person several times but never been to sfmoma blog before now, drifted into it via link from somewhere else, saw the columnists, and randomly clicked one; and went straigh to this aritcle #1, odd, and coincidental because I have been EXACTLY in the ‘incubation period’ for a couple of days. That is why I’m endlessly browsing the net for days looking at the current worldwide goings on in our art world/exhibits etc. while at the same time putting together my latest ideas in my mind, turning it over,…incubating….I went through the preparation stage already. decided my next project is to do some 3 dimensional abstract futuristic work. I will read more later this week, as I see there are succeeding articles to this one, at which time I may still be incubating or I may start ‘hatching’ or be “hatching” something.

Leave a comment

Please tell us what you think. We really love conversation, and we’re happy to entertain dissenting opinions. Just no name-calling, personal attacks, slurs, threats, spam, and the like, please. Those ones we reserve the right to remove.

Sign Up

Join our newsletter for infrequent updates on new posts and Open Space events.
  • Required, will not be published

Dear Visitor,
We regret to inform you that Open Space is no longer active. It was retired at the end of 2021. We sincerely appreciate your support and engagement over the years.

For your reference, we encourage you to read past entries or search the site.

To stay informed about future ventures or updates, please follow us at

Thank you for being a part of our journey!