Art & Art History ETDs

Publication Date



Herein is a discussion of creative thinking as it is manifested in scientific and artistic inquiry. Specifically, creativity is treated as a special kind of problem solving and is discussed as a mental process rather than an isolated event. The process consists of three phases: 1) preparation, 2) subconscious work, and 3) evaluation. These three periods are seen as essential characteristics of creative problem solving. The creative process consists of both conscious and unconscious mental activity. Primarily, the conscious work is carried on during the periods of preparation and evaluation, and the unconscious mental functions occur during the period referred to as subconscious work.

Preparation consists of the assimilation of information relevant to the field of endeavor and occurs during the conscious, systematic, and fruitless analysis of the problem at hand. Preparation also leads one to successful conscious work. However, problem solving that is that is the result of a conscious, logical thought process is not creative in the context in which the word is used in this discussion. Although there are certain aspects of preparation, such as immersion, that predispose one to both conscious and subconscious work, the discussion of this period focuses on attitudes that will enhance subconscious work.

Subconscious work consists of unconscious analysis of a problem and occurs during a time referred to as an incubation period. Certain characteristics of subconscious work are: unconscious scanning, fragmentation of the problem, abstraction, ambiguity, and the nature of specific intentions in the work.

During evaluation, the results of subconscious work undergo the scrutiny of both conscious and unconscious thought. Methods of determining the validity of the results of science and art are seen as having certain basic differences; the similarities are largely a function of the reliance on intuition in assessing the validity of these results.



Document Type


Degree Name


Level of Degree


Department Name

UNM Department of Art and Art History

First Committee Member (Chair)

Ronald Grow

Second Committee Member

Charles Mattox

Third Committee Member

Thomas F. Barrow

Fourth Committee Member