The title of this Online Energizer is taken from a quote by the Dutch-American painter Willem de Kooning. Born in Rotterdam he made a name for himself in the United States with beautifully strange, abstract expressionist paintings.
In this visual game, we are going to use famous abstract paintings to brainstorm. The paintings act as a “void” that needs to be filled. So we actually do the opposite and add things. After all, the art of abstract art is to evoke a reaction! And that, of course, is what a brainstorming session aims to do. Gives us new ideas.
- The first thing you’ll need for this game format are some images of (famous) abstract artworks. Our suggestion is to start with 5 ‘copies’. 😉
- For some inspiration: the website The Artling made this list of most famous abstract artworks. You can discover more paintings at Virtuoso Art and The Artist will also be happy to lend a hand.
- To prepare for this mental, visual and creative task, have everyone also read this definition of abstraction: Abstraction is the inductive process of omitting all non-essential information and secondary aspects, and then generalizing, in order to reveal the more fundamental structures.
- The game moderator has chosen the images, shares the online meeting screen and shows the artworks in a Powerpoint presentation. Optionally, the moderator sets a timer in advance. The participants then get – for example – 3 minutes per artwork.
- The goal of this Online Energizer is to give the eyes all the freedom to reach new insights with the brain.
- Each participant gets (extensive) time to let the image(s) work in on them. All participants write down everything that comes to mind during this ‘viewing session’. What feelings bubble up while looking at the painting?’ Where do their thoughts wander off to? What does the painting resemble? What subject do you ‘see’ in it? Dare to write it down!
- The participants can now compare their thoughts per painting. What do they have in common? Variation: what similarities do the participants see between the paintings?
- In the end this game is about the most striking similarities. At the very least, these findings say something about how the team – as a whole – thinks.
- Now comes the crucial step. Using the similarities and associations found, return to a problem in your day to day work and try to use these new perspectives to solve it. (Important: the game leader can select an issue in advance, or have the participants come up with a work problem at this point. The chosen work problem should not have been shared beforehand, as the associations must remain completely free. After all, it is all about the thought processes at work).
- Even if you don’t achieve a concrete result after playing this game, you’ll have practiced to associate freely as a team. In an open minded and creative environment. Thinking in connections, similarities and analogies will increase your problem-solving abilities. After all, every (work) problem contains similar – comparable – sub-problems. And some of those other problems you (and your team) have already solved before. The most important thing is to see the connection!
- Variation: do you feel like messing about yourself? The team can also get to work with some paintbrushes. Afterwards have the same type of brainstorming session inspired by the paintings your colleagues have made before. This works best if the participants all try to paint in the same abstract style. Who can do it best – or not at all! What will it be this week? A Mondrian, Pollock or Appel?
- Variation: are your colleagues more verbal than visually minded? Start a discussion about one of the following quotes on the abstract. Coincidentally or not, abstract art has been the subject of wonderful theorizing.
- Variation: this Online Energizer provides an excellent opportunity for a good conversation about abstract versus concrete. Which colleague is best at abstracting? And who should speak or write a little less abstractly? Daring to tell each other the tangible truth helps the team move forward. The loose atmosphere of a jointly played energizer makes it possible. That’s the power of Serious Play.
- Bonus idea: at the moment of deep (abstract) reflection, it can help when game facilitator plays one or more of the following songs about famous painters! Do you know a fun song about a painter working in abstract art? Get in touch with us.