The process is the outcome.
“When you buy something from an artist, you’re buying more than an object. You’re buying hundreds of hours of errors and experimentation. You’re buying years of frustration and moments of pure joy. You’re not buying just one thing, you are buying a piece of a heart, a piece of a soul. A small piece of someone else’s life.”
This quote (I couldn’t find to whom it was attributed), was read out at my group’s meet last night. A member brought it along for me, and at the end, shared it. After he read it I thanked him and told him it made me feel emotional. Almost like I was going to cry.
The group last night met to take part in a spot of intuitive painting. I found some great guidelines and drew on my own experience taking part in a group like this in Oakland, CA. Intuitive painting is a process and a form of therapy. We allow ourselves to be inside paint and colour. We uncover images of our inner selves.
The very experience of it is the transformative aspect of intuitive painting, not the work that is produced. I have half a mind next time to bring to the session the process of burning our paintings after we’re finished, to underline the point that what’s produced is of no consequence. This is the one place in art where we can do away with fetishising our objects. Paraphrasing Nancy Fletcher Cassell’s document, here are some ideas for intuitive, or process painting.
1. Painting as meditation
After correct preparation with necessary materials, use the session to allow your mind to wander to wherever it goes. Allow no interruptions. Don’t stop painting until the allotted time runs out.
2. Painting as healing
Be aware of what the painting is trying to say. Use affirmations which validate self-expression and stimulate self-acceptance.
3. Painting as journaling
Use journals to start with. Then trust the process and move to painting. Without forcing particular results, deep issues can come up.
4. Painting to silence your inner critic
This is play, there is no good or bad, right or wrong. Free your body and spirit. Accept and allow your responses. Release yourself.
5. Painting to live a full life
It’s never too late to start painting. The spark of creativity exists in everyone regardless of age, perceived ability, background etc.
6. Painting to relieve stress
Small message cards with affirmations encourage freedom and help us get past fear and beliefs about our limitations. They might include: Offend yourself. Allow the light. Use your anger. Forget who you think you are. Steal your own heart.
7. Painting to rest & renew your spirit
Become your instinctive self. Take a holiday without leaving home. Know that all you need exists within you.
8. Painting to feed your professional art practice
Take away all expectations. Forget that part of your creativity which receives praise and reward. Forget about what others in your field would think of you.
9. Painting to release creative blocks
Dive deep into the process, staying alive and awake. Use as many tools as necessary, while reading poems, listening to music, viewing objects and using personal experience both positive and negative.
10. Paint to give yourself life
“Don’t wait. Painting is only an idea until you begin. Forget about wanting, needing, or expecting support from others. Forget about people liking or praising your art work. Painting in this manner can help release fear on all levels in all areas of your life.”
Another thing I found with the process is that even though we’re sitting there, each working on our own pieces and not speaking for 45 minutes, and we’re painting incessantly, it is a sort of collaboration as what we’re exchanging is energy.
There was lots of surprising synchronicity at the session. The two guided imagery visualisations I ended with, referenced planets and rose gardens, which coincidentally had come up in the participant’s work. At the end there was no critiquing, no mutual admiring of each other’s work. There was just a great feeling of energy rejuvenation and renewed faith in myself and my creativity. I hadn’t painted since I was in America.
I went into it with all ten of the intentions above. I gave a lot to the experience and received good vibes and energy in return. Writing about everything kind of sucks the living out of life, makes it all sound so serious. I want to play, to have fun, to dance and sing and paint and make other people feel good and feel OK making a fool of myself. To feel! I want to say everything’s OK, because it is. It’s more than OK! It’s stupendous!