I’m taking an intuitive painting class on line. Intuitive painting is the process by which you paint freely and wait for images to present themselves. You arrive at the blank page with no preconceived notions about what you want to appear. In fact you discourage that piece of yourself that would press at you to put just about anything on the canvas just to have somewhere to begin. Instead you scribble and doodle and paint large stripes of color that look like the paintings children do in pre-school. You even use your hands!
I’m an intuitive painter myself so this isn’t an entirely new idea. But I can get into a rut and stay in a style comfort zone. Even intuitive painters often see the same images in their canvasses resurface again and again. I’m inclined to see women’s faces. A face is generally my starting point. I’m looking to open myself to new ideas and images. It’s a challenge for me as an artist. It’s a challenge for all of us as people. New is difficult. New is uncomfortable. New is unknown. New can be messy. But taking an occasional leap of faith is the only way to move forward and expand your own place of knowing. If you keep doing what you are doing, you will keep getting what you are getting.
You don’t have to be an artist to try these simple exercises—in fact most women I work with consider themselves “non-creatives” but that’s a whole other subject. Intuitive painting brings you closer to that little person you were—before the universe kicked in and told you what you were not good at. It’s an incredible opportunity to explore all those inner censors and critics and duel them to the ground.
People from my class post their works in progress everyday. I find myself a bit intimidated. Even in the early stages of painting some people’s work is extraordinarily beautiful. I have a sludgy mess on my two canvasses. Some people break the rules and add other colors. I’m following the directions to a tee. Thus far only reds, oranges, yellows, blues and greens are permitted. I’m not a blue and green person but my canvas is decidedly blue and green. I’m struggling with it. I have to remind myself to trust the process.
Maybe I tell myself I’m not really as talented as some of these others? Maybe I follow the rules too much? I’m impatient. I don’t always trust the process. And I am way more attached to the product than I imagined I was. I need to let some of the intensity go. This class is not about the art! It’s about me and meeting my inner demons and making friends with them.
As a coach and counselor as well as an artist I am always on the lookout for tools and techniques to help women explore in fun and imaginative ways. I’m all about engaging both the right and the left brain in the process. Before I engage in anything creative, I set an intention for the moment. I allow myself to stray but I create a starting point for my adventure.
Here’s a few ways to start your own adventure:
- Purchase a journal with heavy weight paper that will accept liquid (like water colors)
- Additional journal for writing
- 1 glue stick
- 1 set of inexpensive watercolors and paintbrushes
- At least 3 different colored markers
Draw a circle in the middle of your first journal page. Now write a word in the middle of your circle (it can be anything that comes to your mind). You can also cut out a word from a magazine or newspaper, or cut letters and paste them into the middle to create your word. Now start doodling. You can add shapes within the circle. You can add more words in the circle. You can make more circles in and out of the circle. Use the different markers to do the doodles. Use the watercolors to paint in the shapes or color in the background of the page.
Stop when you feel you are done. Or if you find it difficult to get started or feel your censors pressing at you, set a timer for a certain amount of time to do this exercise. Close your book. Ask yourself one question: How do I feel? Exercises like this ARE NOT about the art. In order to grow we all need to know what’s keeping us from growing. It’s only then can we begin to work through the obstacles we face within ourselves. Instinctively I know that my sludgy green canvas will become something but it’s a challenge to keep working on it. It would be much easier to start with a fresh white canvas and draw a familiar face. I gently remind myself when I feel anxious that something new will emerge which is exactly what I am looking for.
I’m looking forward to hearing from you after you do this exercise. Feel free to email me and check out more tips and blogs about exploration, change and reinvention.
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