I've been reading Bronowski's A sense of the future: Essays in natural philosophy this weekend. It's been eye opening.
I've always seen the world as being divided into math/science types and language/arts types. (I, of course, see myself fitting into the latter category.) Bronowski talks about how scientists must use their creative abilities to be better scientists and how artists use science to discover and improve their creations. He uses the skeleton as a simple example. Scientists use it to learn about the body and artists use it to learn how to draw/sculpt or otherwise create bodies in their art.
The example worked for me, since biology was the only science I was any good at. I actually enjoyed cutting up the fetal pig in grade 12... not because I was cutting up a dead animal, but because I was genuinely curious as to what I'd find and how the little creature's body worked...
Anyway, back to Bronowski... I find myself as curious about his theories on art, science and philosophy as I was about that little pig in high school. He also says that good scientists ultimately can't be emotionally divorced from their work... objective, but not devoid of passion for what they're doing.
Artists discover new techniques through experimentation and use what they learn to create new things.
In both cases, artists and scientists can spend endless hours on the most repetitive or minute task, only to suddenly have a small leap that takes them to some new level they've never experienced before. (Sounds like learning in general to me... Lots and lots of effort. Jump to a new level of understanding. Plateau. Repeat.)
I think I may have just had one of those little "jumps". I'm finally starting to "get" that artists and scientists can have a lot in common... passion for what they do fuelled by curiosity, and a willingness to step back and ask "Why?"