Paintings from Sunset Series by Spence Munsinger, Color Field + Blank White Canvas + Realism + Contemporary Abstract Art, original paintings for sale

“Every now and then one paints a picture that seems to have opened a door and serves as a stepping stone to other things.”
― Pablo Picasso

xmind

xmind logo

Xmind is a mind-mapping software I found through a serendipitous train of thought and action.

I was working through Ariane Goodwin’s Writing the Artist Statement. She talks about clustering or mind-mapping as loading your right brain – or left brain. I can’t remember which – I am left-handed and right/left don’t work for me without conscious thought. She talked about working through it on paper. I’m a computer-oriented rather than paper-oriented process person. I went looking for mind-mapping software, preferably open-source, preferably free, and preferably running on Linux and Windows, since I find my self using both.

To quote from a section of the book “Writing the Artist’s Statement”:

“Clustering is a right brain, learning technique pioneered in the 1970s by Tony Buzan in Using Both Sides of Your Brain. Instead of using linear outlines and sequential data, he theorized that learning works best when we organize material the same way the brain organizes information, with neural pathways branching off of central points. The idea caught on, and now we don‘t think twice about dividing learning strategies into right and left-brain styles. Clustering has also been called spider webbing or mapping, and is often used to order ideas generated in a brainstorming session.”

Do’oh. Right brain… I knew that.

That willingness to see if I could find a tool for the computer to work with the technique led me to Xmind. It worked brilliantly for the exercises from the book, pushing them forward quite a bit. I am close to an artist’s statement that actually communicates effectively what I am doing right now. Once I got beyond those exercises, I continued playing with Xmind and the mapping techniques, creating a map of tasks, basically a map of my life and purposes. From that, I started using sections within the map. It has separate sheets, like in Excel – where you have a workbook and then at the bottom you can present data differently on tabbed “sheets”. Same metaphor, but without a rigid cell structure in each sheet.

The Xmind map allows a non-linear presentation – like brainstorming, but with the ability to place order intuitively as you discover or realize pieces of the process.

xmind workbook

I work this way, fluidly. I am not disorganized, if anything, I am more organized in process. Without the process, following trains of thought creatively never results in actual painting, actual product. But within that process I require a constant adjustment, re-evaluation of importance and direction, a maintaining of mementum.

The rigid structure of Excel never worked for me, and endless lists ala Getting Things Done or before that 7 Habits worked, but were heavy and ponderous, even with a computer. Re-ordering and rediscovery or adding newly found tasks wasn’t flowing even in a text editor on a computer. Xmind allows that discovery. It allows changing the whole map structure on a whim to a tree or a logic chart and then back, coloring for emphasis or intuitive grasp of importance. It’s become a favorite tool.

I would highly recommend Ariane’s book as well.

spence