Creativity: The secret to exponential growth for creative people

This article is about creative people and one essential element for exponential growth.

Surprisingly, creative people rarely have this important creative characteristic.

I’m passionate about learning and have studied creative growth for decades. As an artist I love the creative process.

Here’s the main point of the article…

Point 1. Exponential creative growth means understanding the principles of order and structure underpinning the laws of nature.

Uncontrollable chaos does not work.

Leonardo DaVinci illustrated this important universal principle, which underpins creative growth. Once I understood and applied this concept to my life, my best artwork was produced.

I had become in tune, with the principles of nature.

Vitruvian Man by Leonardo DaVinci 1487

Leonardo DaVinci drew the Vitruvian man to illustrate the ideal human proportions as a foundation for classical order, balance and structure in Renaissance architecture.

It was the artists attempt to represent the inseparable relationship between man and nature. Created in 1497 the drawing is still one of the most highly reproduced images in the world today.

Here’s the reality: today our modern lives can become dangerously artificial. Far removed from the governing laws of nature.

Most people are too busy chasing commercial goals, to really care about their relationship to nature and how they might grow with organic ease.

Point 2. Most growth adults experience is dangerously artificial ignoring universal truths.

Natural growth requires rest. Like a plant, relaxation allows nature to take its perfect course.

But over time, people’s concept of growth changes.

Confusion leads adults to believe that real growth means a bigger bank balance. They just want more money to grow. But there’s a problem with this type of thinking…

Building wealth doesn’t always mean personal growth.

Here’s the truth…

Point 3. People can be extremely wealthy, but still think like a greedy child.

Most of us rarely give any quality thought to the process behind growth. Personal growth. Creative growth. Business growth. Spiritual growth.

Real growth is rarely about our relationship with money. But as Leonardo implied, it’s about our relationship with the structural principles of the universe.

Positive growth always, without exception, requires working with nature. Not against it. Negative growth mostly happens when we push beyond our natural selves to achieve our egotistical artificial goals.

Notice how a child grows.

If I want a healthy child, I can’t rush the process.

Likewise, I believe, it takes nine months for the delivery of a well-formed idea.

Then once a creative idea is born, it experiences a lot of falling over, crying, growing pains and dangerous situations to conquer.

Point 4. Growth is a natural organic process that can’t be forced or rushed.

There’s little strain or struggle to make our bones and flesh grow. In fact, if we eat enough it’s very easy to grow.

For example, the painting in my studio below grew organically from thinking about diving in the beautiful coral reefs of Indonesia.

Painting the artwork was a natural process requiring very little conscious effort. There was no strain or struggle. Only pure creative enjoyment. Creating layer upon layer of beautiful rich colour. In the studio for hours, I was in a natural creative rhythm.

Time passed amazingly quickly.

Coral Fish 916x1024 Creativity: The secret to exponential growth for creative people

‘Coral Fish’ by Simon Brushfield (2011) Acrylic on canvas 1.2m x 1.2m For Sale $3500

Point to Ponder: How can you avoid the tiresome struggle of life to grow naturally, with ease – free from strain or conscious effort?

Babies never push themselves to grow and a top painting never forces itself to be beautiful. But so many people ignorantly push themselves to extremes, hoping to grow. But only cause damage.

Point 5. A natural growth path, called a destiny, has already been planned for us.

It seems some adults grow effortlessly.

But others appear to strain and struggle everyday, fighting battles on every front, only to achieve tiny insignificant growth.

Some people know the secret, but others remain ignorant.

In plain terms, it’s silly to fight against a much larger opponent. The forces of the universe and laws of nature are much greater and more powerful than one individual struggling to achieve a goal.

If a person continues in this battle, frustration and exhaustion is guaranteed.

Here’s the simple secret…

Point 6. Relax and go with the flow of a structured, very orderly universe.

Even amongst a messy artistic process, there should be some order and structure, but it’s essential to go with the flow and use what the universe provides. This is how I created what might look initially like a disorganized abstract painting below.

Eucalypt painting by Simon Brushfield Creativity: The secret to exponential growth for creative people

‘Natural Beauty’ (2001) Eucalypt painting by Simon Brushfield Oil & Acrylic on Canvas 1.8m x 1.4m (Sold: Private Acquisition)

In the painting above titled ‘Natural Beauty’, which contains Australian gum leaves and raw elements from a beautiful old eucalyptus tree, I spend countless hours creating multiple layers, observing how paint and nature randomly fell onto the canvas.

Aided by my artistic intuition, what developed was a natural order and organic flow captured in abstract painterly terms.

Although on first appearances it might seem wild by nature, my painting above is very ordered and thoughtfully balanced. This visual structure is designed to please the eye.

Hopefully, creating instant appeal on a conscious and subconscious level.

Careful planning determined how I wanted the viewers eye to travel across the painting. Starting at the top left corner and finishing at the bottom right.

Point 7: I spend much time observing, reflecting and understanding the natural order and structure of perceived randomness in nature.

Many creative individuals operate in and actually enjoy the messy chaos of the creative process. Walk into any artists studio and you’ll probably find an untidy studio with lots of paint, scrap materials, and pieces of inspiration stuck on the wall or noticeboard.

I have been an artist all my life, graphic designer and art director working in the creative industry for many years. I have also taught and mentored international creative minds from bachelors to master’s degree levels.

Here’s what I have discovered…

Point 8: People need order and structure to grow. In fact, they crave it.

However, many people are turned off by the word ‘discipline’. But all the most successful creative people behind the scenes are disciplined people.

Everyone has a personal system determining the way they operate.

Some have highly efficient productive systems requiring little energy. Other people’s systems are faulty, creating exhaustion and wasting large amounts of energy.

Discipline is the key.

A personal system needs to take advantage of the creative flow of the universe too. Nature is a highly ordered system. The sun rises in perfect time. And its relationship to the moon is precise. Universal structure is the theme of my painting below.

Sunrise on Fresh cut grass 768x1024 Creativity: The secret to exponential growth for creative people

“Sunrise” by Simon Brushfield (2009) Oil & Acrylic on Canvas 80cm x 60cm   For Sale: $1200

But messy disorganized personal systems fight against the natural order of a precise creative universe.

Point 9: Order and structure in the physical world, helps develop order and structure in the mind.

For example, I remember a friend complaining she couldn’t find a very important file on her computer. The deadline was fast approaching. Time was running out.

Frustration and anxiety were building inside her.

As an authority figure in her life, I had spent much time discussing the importance of order and structure in creativity .

After hearing her complain and become growingly agitated, I asked to look on her computer. I was shocked when I saw her desktop. It was a complete mess with files everywhere.

‘Pink Angels’ by Willem de Kooning (1945) Oil and charcoal on canvas 132 x 101cm Frederick R. Weisman Art Foundation, Los Angeles. © 2011 The Willem de Kooning Foundation/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

The famous New York modern abstract artist Willem DeKooning who painted the picture above once said…

“The attitude that nature is chaotic and that the artist puts order into it is a very absurd point of view. All that we can hope for is to put some order into ourselves.” – Willem DeKooning

The physical indication on her desktop, gave me clear insight into the state of her mind. I’m surprised she could even think straight. It’s a common problem many people face. For a long time my friend had operated in ‘last minute urgent mode’. Unlike Leonardo’s Vitruvian Man, she had zero structure, having fallen away from natural ordered principles.

She lacked order and structure. Her mind was a chaotic mess.

It affected her productivity and clarity in life.

Although very intelligent, she was too busy with the next urgent task, forgetting to keep her house in order. Her computer (symbolic of her life) had no orderly structure or foundation to build upon.

Unfortunately, for most people….

Life just happens.

My friend spent her life reacting from one crisis to another. With little planning she operated in ‘last minute urgent mode’. This style of living creates anxiety. And an incredible mess.

Point 10. Short-term thinking creates restraint and an anxious troubled life.

Chaotic random energy needs an efficient system to harness and control things, directing energy towards a desired target. Systematic uncontrolled chaos rarely works well.

Like the painting below in my Australian studio, people need an overall target to direct and control natural energy.

‘Red Target’ by Simon Brushfield (2008) Oil & Acrylic on Canvas 1m x .8m (Sold: Corporate Aquisition)

I am suggesting living a creative life of conscious thought and careful planning aligned to the natural patterns and principles of the universe to provide support . This works in the non creative commercial world too.

When I create order and structure in my life and understand the relationships between various elements, things are under control and I begin to work with the principles of nature.

No longer do everyday pressures create worry, exhaustion, anxiety even terror.

The universe has existed for a long time. It knows what’s best.

When we begin to understand the correct order and structure of our lives, and align ourselves to those universal principles, our world dramatically changes.

When I’m well aligned with nature, my creative output and personal growth is turned to automatic pilot. I grow exponentially and my creativity flourishes.

The experience is a natural organic growth process.

Point 11. My best creative work is well planned with order and structure beneath the surface.

‘Sunshine’ by Simon Brushfield (2010) Oil & Acrylic on canvas 80cm x 80cm For Sale $1200

A painting can appear messy and colourful on the surface, but the visual structure and order behind the scenes is what really determines its appeal. My painting above is a prime example because it has a solid structural support system underneath.

Point 12. My paintings all contain: Order, Structure and Balance beneath the messy abstract textural paintwork.

This provides the viewer with a sturdy strength and comfortable security.

The elements that create visual pleasure in the painting above are; firstly, the horizon line through the centre of the painting.

Secondly, the thick redish pink textural base.

Thirdly, the two red margins on either side of the canvas acting as strong supportive pillars, guiding the eye into a bright beautiful yellow future.

In fact, I can hear the order and structure when a person speaks. Are our thought processes ordered or scattered? It’s guaranteed, that if a persons thinking lacks discipline and order, so too will their work.

Point 13. Discipline is essential for innovative and ordered productivity.

However, a child’s mind is not well accustomed to the concepts of discipline, balance, order and structure. In fact, many creative people also struggle to implement these important concepts into their life and work.

Leonardo understood the importance of the Vitruvian Man. However, it wasn’t his unique idea. The concept had been around 1500 years before Leonardo was born.

We all need to integrate an ordered structural balance in our own personal universe. Balance between the creative uncontrollable side and the disciplined predictable side of life.

Final Point. Once these opposing universal forces are in balance, growth happens automatically.

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About Simon Brushfield

Simon Brushfield is an artist whose work has been described as ‘poetic, enigmatic and dreamlike’ (Michael Berry, "Selected Contemporary Artists of Australia" book). His paintings have been exhibited and sold across Australia and internationally. If you enjoyed this post, sign up to Simons VIP list and have posts sent directly to your inbox.


  1. Is it true that there other version Vitruvian Man? and was created before Leonardo work, great article by the way thanks.

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