Bold Brushstrokes and Being BIG

by jenn on August 18, 2009

in Creativity,Entrepreneurship,Expressive Arts Coaching,Intuitive Painting


In high school, my speech coach encouraged me to “Be BIG!”  To trust in myself, project my voice and boldy embody the characters I portrayed.  He even had me practice standing more powerfully with my feet wider apart to take up space.  The “be big” and “take up space” lessons continue to show up for me in different forms.  Lately, they’ve resurfaced on paper in my intuitive painting class with a painting that just keeps getting bigger…


… and bigger…


… and bolder… AND BIGGER …


… AND BIGGER still … (This photo gives a sense of the scale compared to the folding chair to the right of the painting.)


… and yep, you guessed it… even B-I-G-G-E-R!  (Now it’s getting so big that it’s hard to fit the whole thing in the iPhone camera frame!)

I’ve been working on the same painting for the past few months.  It started off innocently as a single sheet of paper.  Before I realized it, I envisioned images extending beyond the four corners of the initial sheet and added on a second piece.  And then a couple of weeks later, I added a third.  Each time I’d cringe as I’d call over to Chris to let her know that I think I needed to add another piece of paper.  Facing an ever-expanding blank canvas was quite overwhelming, however, I knew I needed to follow my intuition.

The painting continues to grow and become more wild and strange.  I’m learning to go with that and challenge myself to continuing pushing my own edges.

At the beginning of class a couple of weeks ago, I unfolded my painting and got ready to hang it on the wall.  Chris came over and offered to help.  As I stepped back to take in my painting, my first reaction was irritation — the images, bold colors and energy were so “IN MY FACE.”  In response, I stood up, shimmied my hands near my head jazz-hands style, shook my body violently and, with my tongue hanging out, cried “Aaaaaaaaahhhh!!!!!”  That’s how my painting felt and sounded to me!  I went with that sensation and the rest of that class I painted with annoying, obnoxious florescent paints.  The acrid colors evoked that same irritating vibration.  I also ended up adding some 3-dimensional aspects to have it take up even more space.  I looked at where my discomfort was and asked myself, how can I turn the volume up on this more?  Funny that Chris hung the painting up flush at the left edge of the wall… she left room just in case the painting decided to get bigger.  And it did! (If I had hung it up, I would’ve positioned it right in the center with no room to add on more.  Gotta love having someone hold me bigger than I see myself!)

Through this painting, I’m also noticing what it’s really like to be in the process.  To honor what I need in any given moment and to not be attached to staying there.  For example, when I added on the 2nd to the last panel, I was feeling so overwhelmed with the bigness and boldness of all that was going on in the painting.  A large body began to emerge which helped me feel grounded in all of the chaos.  When I came back to the image the following week, I was worried about “marring” the peaceful quality of what I created, but Chris encouraged me to follow where my energy was in that moment and I began to incorporate vibrant colors and surreal images once again.  I’m re-learning that I have capacity for the full range of boldness, bigness, chaos AND calm, grounded, centered.  It’s not an either/or.  And as I take up space, I’m learning to stand fully in my own bigness (and to admit that yes, indeed, I’m a Leo!).  It’s certainly still a growing edge and there’s lots more juicy learning to come as this painting is not done with me yet!  Plus, I’ll be starting Chris’ Expressive Arts Teacher Training this Friday.

Check out this gorgeous and inspiring video about Chris and Painting from the Wild Heart.  Art student Peter Lee did an amazing job capturing the beauty and power of the intuitive painting process.  Plus, you’ll see my painting in progress when it was almost a third the size it is now…

Painting from the Wild Heart from Peter Lee on Vimeo.

Where are your growing edges?  How can you be big and bold?  What’s it like when you give yourself permission to take up space?

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