Since February, I’ve been attending Chris Zydel’s Intuitive Painting class at her cozy Oakland studio. What a gift to have stumbled upon Chris via twitter and to have this opportunity to explore my creative self in new ways. I’ve always loved painting. What’s great about playing with this approach, though, is that I’m accessing different parts of my intuition and allowing the images to just unfold – even if they don’t make sense or if I think they’re crazy and hideous!
It’s about the process not the product.
I’m finding that the intuitive painting is enhancing my creative process in general. In fact, the other day my book coach said she noticed that I’m getting more comfortable with sending her really bad and incomplete first drafts. Since I’m typically a perfectionist, this has been great progress! The crappy first drafts are valuable fodder which eventually evolves into something that works and feels good.
I felt compelled to share some of the pieces I’ve created recently, even though it feels vulnerable to do so. In class, we refrain from making any comments to others about their paintings. This helps to create a safe space where anything can show up on paper without fear of criticism (or even praise – or not getting praise). There’s definitely an edge for me in putting all this out there AND I know there is value in sharing my own process. So, here it goes…
The painting above started off looking and feeling like roadkill. I just happily slapped on layers and layers of red paint. Then some figures started to emerge…
And then over the course of two classes it morphed into this bizarre image. When I was stuck at one point, Chris asked me what are three possible things that could happen next, perhaps a new color or image. I said something in the top left corner. I really dislike purple, so that’s what I decided to go with – where there was the most resistance. At the end, I signed the painting and pinned it up next to me to dry. When I looked over, though, I saw some faint eyes staring back at me in the purple mess in the corner, so I had to go back and fill in glowing eyes in more detail to truly complete this wild painting.
Even though my judging mind thinks this image is quite ugly and disturbing, I found the painting process very satisfying. And that’s what it’s about! As Chris tweeted to me later on, “You’ve just discovered one of the secrets of the intuitive painting process. Making bad art can feel SO GOOD.”
This was painting I did last month. It was such a surprise to see what unfolded here as I let my brush just allow images to take shape. Beauty is a value of mine, so it is quite uncomfortable and strange for me to give myself permission for things to be ugly and weird. However, besides aesthetics, to me, there is the beauty of emotion and the inner world. So, in that respect the intuitive painting aligns deeply with my values of beauty, creativity and self-expression. It’s amazing to me how the painting really just paints itself.
The painting above started off with swirling circles that then formed what I thought was going to be a sun or a planet, but then surprisingly turned into a giant cross-eyed snail. Who knew? I had been feeling very tired and sluggish, so I guess it was befitting. It wasn’t complete until I added the red glitter glue which went on all slimy just like a snail trail! Very visceral and fun!
And then there’s my new favorite technique… what Chris called the the “use up your paints” painting. I was fascinated just watching the paint globs drip down the page until they dried.
Some great resources about the painting process
I’m looking forward to diving deeper into this process by painting regularly and also through taking Chris’ Expressive Arts teacher training program starting in August. Until then, I just finished reading Painting from The Source by Aviva Gold and I have Life, Paint, Passion by Michele Cassou and Stewart Cubley on my nightstand. And below is a fantastic video by Stewart Cubley about the Painting Experience.
These are great resources if you’re wanting to dabble in some intuitive panting on your own. But of course the best way to learn about the painting process is to just pick up a brush and let your Inner Muse guide you. Enjoy!