Angela's Art Blog

Thoughts on Art and Process

Experiencing painting as a loving healing practice

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In my last blog post I shared some of the benefits I enjoy from the practice of intuitive process painting. And during the recent weekend painting intensive I held at Painted Crow, I experienced a new one that was quite profound and is still strongly sticking with me nearly 3 weeks later.

To tell it properly, I have to start earlier that week. I had found that being more settled into my new place, my new home where I now live alone, brought up another layer of stuff about my uncoupling to work through, and I had been feeling sad and subdued for much of the week.

Since it wasn’t a full class that weekend, and they were returning students who wouldn’t hesitate to interrupt me when they needed help, I decided to paint along with them. So we painted. For hours. And then we took a lunch break and came back and painted for more hours.

One of the guidelines for this type of painting is that we work in silence – no music, and very little talking. And when I work by myself, I have to admit that I don’t always strictly follow this because, well, no one is there to make me! And it can be very uncomfortable because one of the reasons for it is that the silence lets you really feel what you’re feeling, and think what you’re thinking, without distraction or influence. (But, as my mentor once said when I was feeling uncomfortable at a weeklong retreat, “I didn’t bring you here to be comfortable.”)

So my mind decided to go on a full rampage of thoughts and feelings full of doubt and fear and loss and grief and unworthiness, and feeling unloved and alone, and more fear and… So yeah, not fun.

But the truly intriguing part was that through all of this, my painting wasn’t expressing any of these things. Instead, it seemed to be trying to comfort me. These paintings don’t always have meaning, and we’re not trying to make meaning with them. We’re just following the promptings of color and shape, asking simply, what next? But this one was being very insistent on continuing to comfort me. The final strokes were these little wavy circles around some gold spheres and for some reason they just brought/bring me such a profound sense of peace.

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So I went home, had my dinner, and then cried the rest of the night. The thoughts and feelings were still with me big time, and the crying helped to release the ones the painting loosened up.

When I got to the studio the next morning I was a little curious, but apprehensive about what this day’s painting would bring. The first thing I noticed is that the barrage of thoughts was gone. I was just painting, following the brush. A big gold heart and all these snakes started showing up weaving through it. I was like, ok, snakes can represent change and transformation, so maybe this will be a deeply meaningful painting too, but I’m not going to hold on to that, I’m just going to keep painting. What next?

And then we took our lunch break.

When we got back, the painting wanted a bunch of fluorescent pink spheres all over it. Ok. And then I stepped back and said what next? And it came to me really strongly to make them into smiley faces! I laughed out loud! And I did it, and I giggled as I did it and felt so happy! And with that all those feelings and thoughts from the previous day felt lifted, and I felt sooooooo much better and lighter.

Sure, there’s more to process. LOTS. And yes, I still feel downright depressed at times. But the painting that comforted me, and is still actively comforting me, now hangs in my new living room. And I have this amazing, magical, loving, beautiful process to turn to again and again and again. That I can turn up for exactly as I am – without expectations to be an artist, to be inspired, to be someone who’s got their s#*% together. I don’t even need to know the words for how I’m feeling. And if I allow myself to truly be in the process, it never fails me.

And I’m going to offer the weekend intensive again and again and again too! I wasn’t the only one experiencing huge transformations that weekend simply by being given the space, and permission, to paint so deeply for so long. We all did. And that’s something I really want to share more often. So I’ve scheduled the next one for the weekend of October 22nd & 23rd.

I invite you to allow yourself the gift of this amazing process, the gift of permission to give yourself this magical, nourishing, loving time for you to connect with, well, you! Permission to experience long, uninterrupted time of expressing yourself freely, communing with your creativity and nourishing your soul.

If you’re interested in being a part of it, let me know soon (registration deadline is October 19th). To make sure there’s space for everybody’s vision, and to keep the class to an intimate size, there’s only room for a few lucky women, so make sure you’re one of them!

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