Since the very sad news of Alan Rickman’s death in January of this year, I’ve been re-reading J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series of books. It’s been very enjoyable to dive into that wonderfully creative and magical world again, and delightful to be reminded of the parts that I had forgotten.
But the reason I felt the need to bring it up here is found in chapter 22 in the 6th book, The Half-Blood Prince, which I was reading last night. In that chapter, Harry, desperate to accomplish a task for Dumbledore and out of ideas, decides to drink the Felix Felicis, or Liquid Luck potion he had won earlier in the school year.
As I read the description of its effect on Harry, I nearly exclaimed (as my friends will attest I am often inspired to do), “Hey, that’s just like painting!”
Let me explain.
As the potion begins to work, Harry starts to follow his impulses, even as they stray from what his original plan was, what logic would dictate was the most likely way to accomplish his goal, with complete trust in the potion’s guidance in spite of his friends’ alarm.
“… an exhilarating sense of infinite opportunity stole through him; he felt as though he could have done anything, anything at all…and getting the memory from Slughorn seemed suddenly not only possible, but positively easy…”
“It was as if the potion was illuminating a few steps of the path at a time: He could not see the final destination… but he knew that he was going the right way… “
“… it occurred to him how very pleasant it would be to pass the vegetable patch on his walk to Hagrid’s. it was not strictly on the way, but it seemed clear to Harry that this was a whim on which he should act, so he directed his feet immediately toward the vegetable patch, where he was pleased, but not altogether surprised, to find Professor Slughorn in conversation with Professor Sprout.”
The scene goes on like that, with Harry listening to and acting on these inner promptings, and eventually accomplishing the task which had eluded him for so long.
If you substitute “intuition” for “potion”, this is an excellent description of the process of intuitive painting, and of one of it’s primary benefits: The strengthening of your ability to trust your own guidance. And, as I’ve learned since beginning this powerful practice myself, that in and of itself can feel like magic.
We live in a culture that panders to the ego, a culture where we are encouraged, both in subtle and in more overt ways, to trust external sources, advice, and opinions more than our own internal promptings, more than our own inner wisdom.
The magic of intuitive process painting, and of practicing art as a way of being (more about that very soon) is that we get to wake up our inner trust and let our souls come alive through color and play, no potions necessary.