ArtTherapist.ca

 

New course Materials will be posted on Mondays, Fridays, Saturdays, & Sundays.

Visit the Painting With Your Muse Forum regularly for member’s discussions and announcements.

For extra support during Painting With Your Muse there are one on one Mentoring sessions available for those who choose.

 

Download your PDF for Week 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 here:

Week One

Week Two

Week Three

Week Four

Week Five

 

Welcome to Week Five!

Bonus:

Download your Process Painting Prompt cards here: [download#30]

 

Final Chat Recording:

Watch live streaming video from petrea at livestream.com

 

Welcome to Week 5: Trusting and Tuning Into Self

 

Week Five Sunday

Intuition Tune-up with Mother Nature

“A bird doesn’t sing because it has an answer, it sings because it has a song.”

Today you will be going on a forest walk  (or similar nature path) to fine tune your intuition.  Many adults walk around on any given day tuning out that inner voice that would normally guide their decisions.  They get use to tuning out surroundings, often rightfully so given the amount of external stimulus our senses are bombarded with.  But, in tuning out our inner voices and external environment, we begin to dull our senses and ignore our intuition.  It’s as if we either have the volume on full blast and are in a state of information overload, or we completely mute the volume and can’t hear what we need to hear.

This nature walk is a metaphor for how we choose to interact with our world, just as process painting can reflect back to us our way of being in this world.  When we open our eyes with curiosity, we allow creative expression to flourish.   Here is a short video to guide you.  As I was editing the video, it was amazing for me to see how certain things I focused on look quite sculptural, and I could make out images within the shapes of nature.

Expressive Arts Exercise: 

Take a camera with you on your walk. Whenever you notice something, observe it and be guided by your intuition whether to photograph it or not.  Let your intuition lead you in how to photograph what you see.   From what angle or perspective are you being called to look at this discovery?  From what distance?   Take this collection home with you and make an intuition collage (either on the computer or print and cut up).  As you piece the images together,  notice the images you chose, and journal about your experience:

  • What are some common elements?
  • What might be some hidden messages for you?
  • What attracted you to notice this particular thing?
  • What prompted you to notice these out of all the nature you passed?
  • Do you see anything else as you look at it captured in a snapshot?

Week Five Saturday Musings

Story time

“More important that the quest for certainty is the quest for clarity” ~ Francois Gautie

Here is another way to engage your muse in helping you uncover your inner wisdom.  Approach your painting as if it is a story being told.  You have heard the saying “a picture is worth a thousand words” right?  What story does your picture tell you today?

Try beginning your story by focusing in on one part of your painting and just begin writing or dictating into your phone: “Once upon a time there was  . . . .” Or pick a “main character” from your painting and tell the story from his or her perspective.  Inanimate objects count to, personify away! Just one thing, if you write it, it stays as part of your story, same thing if you are dictating.  Keep it stream of consciousness. We need to set some boundaries to keep those censors in check  (a kind of censoring of the censors).

Remember, this is just a snapshot in time after all, the story is ever changing.  Allow your self to tell the story of your painting for today.  Tell it on another day and it it will likely change and that’s okay.  Perhaps today you write just one “chapter” of this story.

Use these questions as a guideline: 

  • Where does your story begin?
  • What happens?
  • Where does it end?
  • Is there a sequel?
  • What kind of story is it?   Mystery? Drama? Science Fiction? Romance? Thriller?
  • What does your story reveal to you about your painting?
  • What tidbits of inner wisdom have you picked-up from your story?
  • How do you feel about your story?
  • Are there revisions in the works?
  • Is this an old story (classic)? A new story (modern)?
  • How do you feel hearing this story?

The questions are endless for self-exploration.

If you have written your story down, try reading it out loud,  and recording it.   This way you can  play your story back to yourself afterwards when you have given yourself enough distance to listen.

 

Week 5 Friday:

Exploring Your Painting

“Painting is an attempt to come to terms with life. There are as many solutions as there are human beings.” ~George Tooker

Download your Mp3 Guided Meditation for Week 5 HERE. Listen to it as many times as you like throughout the rest of the e-course. It will help you follow your intuition.

Once you are satisfied that you have finished your painting, allow it to hang in a (safe) spot where you will see it daily.  Allow your eyes to drink in the images.  Listen to the week 5 guided meditation to help you with this process.   As humans, we communicate to a great extent with our words.  We are explorers, on journeys towards meaning.  As it is indeed a part of our nature, there is a place for attempting to discover the significance of our art as well.   Some of you may be feeling a need to explore your art in the verbal realm.  For some it feels unnecessary, or perhaps the timing is not right.  Regardless, it is for you to decide.  Beware however, if you have a strong resistance to exploring your art as outlined below  check-in with yourself; Is it fear that is steering you or intuition?   On the other hand, if you have strong urge to dissect every part of your painting and it’s meaning.  Be cautious;  Is it your Muse leading you or your Monkey Mind?  Only you know for sure.  Do what feels best for you.     There are many layers of meaning and significance to your painting.  The personal symbolism represented can not be fully explained by words (which is why you are painting right?). It is important to allow yourself to sit with the images of the painting to absorb their essence.   This alone can be powerful once you have given yourself enough time to absorb your painting in this way then you will have enough distance to be open to new discoveries. At this point you can engage your painting in several different dialogues.

Giving Your Painting a Voice

Sometimes we have to out smart our mind to bypass the censor.  Asking questions of our painting in different ways and from different perspectives can help us do this.

Here are some ways to approach your completed painting:

(Please note, I don’t recommend journalling or exploring your painting while you are still painting it simply because I feel it will interrupt your flow and the painting process, by keeping you in your head too much)

  • Be an art critic: describe what you see, describe what you think the artist is trying to convey.  What feelings are evoked in you as you look at it?
  • Describe the painting through the eyes of a child (how old is this child?). What would they say that they see?
  • Choose a part of the painting to focus on: Interview this part asking:
    • “Who are you?”
    • “Why are you here?
    • “What do you do?”
    • Ask and any other questions that come to mind as you look at this part of the painting.  Repeat this process for each part of the painting.  Be sure to include and blank space in your interview.

Have fun with it.  There are no “wrong” answers.  Whatever responses you receive are fine.  Each time you come back to these questions, at a later date, you will likely find that you get a different response.  That’s okay, you are uncovering the layers.  No one answer is “the” answer.  They are all significant at the point in time that they are given.

Week 5 Monday

You know what you know, you don’t know what you don’t know- and that’s okay. 

 

Painting is just another way of keeping a diary. ~Pablo Picasso

 

 

Intuition is an inner knowing that we all have.  Sometimes we listen and sometimes we ignore it.  As soon as we self-doubt or second guess ourselves, intuition slips away.  Through Painting with Your Muse you have been learning ways to reconnect with that intuition, allowing the natural flow that comes when we just trust the process of painting.  Our intuition allows us to paint what needs to be painted in that moment, without censoring.  This connects us to our creative source and inner wisdom.   We remain “stuck” any time we resist this natural flow.  Overtime our resistance can become habit, creating what is known as “creative blocks”.

Beware the monkey mind

Often when monkey mind interferes with the process of self exploration we may not notice it at first.  In fact we may actually think  (and this is in an of itself is a clue that we are on the wrong track) that we are understanding or connecting with our self more deeply.   When we see the images before us and begin to have “aha” moments, where we think we know what our painting is about or why we painted it or why it is so significant, then monkey mind is at work.

As human beings we want to understand things so we try to place meaning with our words onto what comes before us.  We try to explain why things exist because it makes us feel more comfortable, and we think it gives us the ability to predict or know what to expect.  This gives us a false sense of security.  We believe that if we know what to expect then we will be prepared for it.  And this notion calms our “rational” monkey mind into feeling safe.

I believe that sometimes we try to explain things to avoid feelings things.  Sometimes it is easier to rationalize what has happened, or is happening and stay in our mind rather than to go deeper into our bodies and experience or allow the feelings to surface.  When we intellectualize our process, and talk about what it means to us, we risk staying stuck in our head, detached from the emotion of what is unfolding before our eyes.

Being distracted by our thoughts AKA Monkey mind is a way to avoid our feelings.  When this happens, no matter how much you can explain away what this action or image or thought or feeling means, you remain disconnected from the true purpose which is to feel or experience what is happening.   With these thoughts more actions are created by our intellect.  So this is about BLANK and now I will represent this aspect of myself this way and so forth.  Pretty soon we are allowing our intellect to dictate how the painting should look and what we should paint next in order to convey this new found concept about our self. The painting then becomes a reflection of our intellect rather than our inner world, emotions or being.  The images become like a type of hieroglyphic symbolic language to be interpreted only one way.   The very intention of them conveying meaning serves to strip them of their potential.  They become flat, lifeless, and after a while the painter begins to get frustrated with them as they are not turning out as planned (ah the inner wisdom is fighting back).  In trying to impart meaning on these images or forms the very opposite happens, they become devoid of any true meaning or connection to self.  They become an exercise of will rather than of allowing.

In process painting images will come forth that reflect the inner world which cannot be reduced to mere words.   Keeping this in mind (pun intended) it is important to allow yourself to explore your painting through feeling your painting rather than just thinking it through.

Following the Flow: Week 4

 

Week Four: Sunday

Knowing when to stop.

 

“My hand does the work and I don’t have to think; in fact, were I to think, it would stop the flow. It’s like a dam in the brain that bursts.”  ~Edna O’Brien

 

I once read somewhere that a good kindergarten art teacher knows when to step in and stop the child from “ruining” a picture.   I disagree with this.   Sometimes we hold ourselves back from expressing all that we can in a painting.  We may stop because we are afraid to ruin it.  We may stop because it looks appealing to us and we have an idea of how we want it to look.  Stopping based on these notions are a false knowing,  a knowing that is thought, rather than a true knowing that is felt.   You will know when to stop your painting when it tells you it is done not when you do.  You will know when to stop when the brush or paint no longer calls you to the paper.  It is a feeling not a thought that will guide you.  You may have a thought like “maybe I should just add more colour here or something over there”.  Knowing when to stop will happen when you sense that it is time, you have a sense that you are done and you feel satisfied with your process.

Inviting Intuition

 

“Your mind will answer most questions if you learn to relax and wait for the answer.” ~ William S. Burroughs

 

Try this: Instead of using your eyes to signal to you when you are finished, really turn within and tune into your intuition by standing in front of your painting and closing your eyes.  What do you see in your mind’s eye? Are there new parts being revealed to you as you “look” at your painting from within? Are there parts of the painting which you are having difficulty remembering or visualizing with your eyes closed? What could you put there instead? What could you add? How does that feel.  Now with your eyes open look at your painting and notice any discrepancies. Is there anything that you have not allowed to be present in your painting?

 

 

Art Journal Exercise:

To strengthen your intuition and allow yourself to detach from the outcome, paint in your art journal for at least 15 minutes (put a timer on) with your eyes closed.  Pick your colours first, have them beside the paper and with eyes closed begin to paint anything that comes to mind, whether it is a recognizable image or abstract forms, just paint it.  Don’t worry if you are putting it in the “right” place, just paint.  Don’t fret about whether you actually picked the colour you had intended, just paint.  Do you get the picture? Good! Now paint!

 

“The future is completely open, and we are writing it moment to moment.” Perma Chodron

 

Week Four: Saturday

The Painting is the Process

Trust the process!

Action and reaction, ebb and flow, trial and error, change – this is the rhythm of living. Out of our over-confidence, fear; out of our fear, clearer vision, fresh hope. And out of hope, progress. ~Bruce Barton

When I work as an art therapist I am constantly aware of the importance of letting clients know that their art will not be shared without their permission.  I know that this gives them permission to do whatever they want in their art without the dread of being judged. Stick with your first painting not giving in to tugs to stop because you don’t like it and want to start over or because you think it looks just fine the way it is. You will know when to stop when the painting tells you I am complete and you feel it with your whole body that this is so. There is no wrong way to do your intuitive painting. If you have a strong sense that you do not like your painting it may be because it is unfinished and has not run its course Refrain from interpreting your painting before it is complete.

Change your Perspective

“Open minds lead to open doors.” Unknown Author

When you don’t know what to do or when you feel stuck:

Paint like no one will ever see it. Paint as if you are painting on a magical paper which will vanish when you are done. In other words paint like you don’t care how it turns out. When painting there is a fine line between painting like you don’t care too much and caring and respecting the process   The idea is to stay detached from the results.

Paint like you are a younger self. Really young kids really are in it for the experience.  They savour the process and often forget about the product afterwards.

Paint as if you are someone else. What would your mother, aunt, father, uncle, brother, sister, shero do?  Think about someone else who maybe you don’t approve or someone who you see as being starkly different than you.  What would they paint? Changing perspective this way opens up your imagination to the possibilities that lie ahead in your painting.  It doesn’t mean that you will paint how these others will paint, it just means you will be thinking outside your own “box” and expectations.  The ideas that come to you after all, are still coming from you.

Why not broaden the horizons and see what happens?

Ways to stick with your painting:

Here are some things you can do as you are painting that can help you keep the flow going when you are feeling stuck.

  • Take a break and give yourself a change of scenery, so you can come back to your painting with a new sense of energy,  fresh eyes and enthusiasm.
  • Getting outside in nature for a walk, remembering to  breath fully as you walk mindfully.
  • Dance out your frustration or “stuckedness”.
  • Pretend you are in the painting what would you do? How would you move? Can you paint that somehow?
  • Vocalize your frustration with sound then return to your painting and paint that vibration.
  • Change your tempo as you are painting, allowing your brush strokes to vary it’s speed and intensity. Hanging in there at the same pace for long enough that you feel a shift in your resistance.
  • Switch hands and see where your non-dominant hand lets the brush lead you.
  • Switch it up paint with a different brush size, tool (sponge, old credit card, etc.) or other body part.
  • Take time to stand back from your image to change your perspective literally.  Look at it from different angles, frame it with your hands, moving your finger frame around the painting to focus in on parts of the painting which need your attention.
  • Work on a different part of the painting continuing an unfinished line or expanding colour
  • Think outside the paper: extend the edges of your painting, adding paper to the side where the image or shape is, which you are extending.

It’s okay to paint over finished parts of your painting as long as you are doing it because the painting is calling you to make that change rather than you doing it to cover a part that you don’t like.

When I say that there is no wrong way there really isn’t. You will ultimately do what you need to in that moment and it will reflect where you are at and how ready you are to connect with yourself. You may just be ready to go to one layer of depth right now and that’s okay.  That is the right way for you right now.

When you are ready to go to the next layer you will.  Above all, trust the process. Staying with your painting allows you to face those fears.

Getting unStuck

“As for the future,  your task is not to foresee it but to enable it.” ~Antoine de Saint-Exupery

Resistance sometimes comes out of things we have learned.  We can learn so much when we let go of our resistance. To break through we need to face the resistance by acknowledging and doing what it is you are resisting. Whether it be details or going bigger, painting fast or slowing down doing the opposite of what you are used to can often get you out of the rut. Sometimes the very thing we avoid is what we need the most.  It is in accepting those images that we are afraid of that they no longer have power over us.

Key Questions to help you through: 

  • What is the worst thing that would happen if you make a “mistake” or the painting turns out differently than you wanted it to?
  • What past messages are getting in the way?
  • What would you add to your painting if you were 5?
  • What messages of encouragement would help you now?  Write a letter to your self.

 

Week Four Friday

 

Download your Mp3 Guided Meditation for Week 4 HERE. Listen to it as many times as you like throughout the rest of the e-course. It will help you connect with your Inner Muse.
Below is a process oriented video to help guide you through week four. Remember, everyone’s process is different. Listen to your intuition, trust yourself and use what works for you. However, you will not know until you try.
Before you begin each painting session, remember to take some time to centre yourself with a few deep breaths, really coming into your body and out of your head. Do any of the three, guided meditations you have received to help support you with this process. Remember to stay hydrated if you are working for extended periods and take breaks to stretch and breathe.

 

 

Monday Week 4

Below is an introduction video for  Week 4.

 

 

 

A painting is never finished – it simply stops in interesting places.” 

– Paul Gardner

 

It’s about the journey not the destination

 

When I was in my twenties, I remember going on a day hike up a small mountain with a close friend.  I was thrilled to be out in nature, and excited about the challenge of reaching the top.

 

As we set out, my friend put his head phones on and tuned into his music.  He then proceeded to bolt full speed ahead walking at a very quick pace, determined to get to the top as quick as he could.  While I too was excited about getting to the top, I remember feeling a sadness that we were going to miss out on really taking in and enjoying the actual hike.  My friend was going to miss it because he was busy distracting himself with his music and his determination to finish the hike as quickly as possible.  I too was going to miss out because I was letting my annoyance with him and judgement of him cloud my ability to be present and enjoy the hike and the beautiful nature surrounding us.

 

If we focus only on the end result, we miss out on all the beauty and growth on the way.   When we paint or express ourselves through the arts, a huge part of the experience is in the doing, the process.  If we invest all of our hopes and energies into the end result then we miss out on a very important part of life, the journey.

 

Sometimes we can get so far ahead of ourselves in our minds, that it gets in the way of us moving forward. Procrastination can set in and freeze us.

 

Where are you stuck?  Is it in the painting, or is it in your mind.  Are you stuck on what it is that you want  to paint and how you want it to look or turn out?

 

Are you stuck in the fear of what it might mean if you paint a certain way or a certain image?  Then you are stuck in your mind, posing as emotion.

 

Are you stuck not knowing what colour to pick or where to put your brush on the paper?  Then you are stuck in your mind.

 

Are you hesitating to paint because you feel you do not have the skill, it’s not for you, or you won’t like it, won’t like how it looks?  Then you are stuck in your mind.

 

Do you long to paint a beautiful painting full of expression and vibrancy that you and others will look at after and say “wow!”  Then you are stuck in your mind.  Stuck in the notion that painting is about the product not the process.  You will remain stuck until you let go of the idea that painting is only about the end result.

 

You will remain stuck if you believe that you have any say in the matter.  Process painting is about allowing your inner expression to come forth, on the paper, through the flow of painting.  It is not about willing things into shape, ideas into form.

 

Honouring your expression 

 

You may start with an idea that pops into your head as you begin to paint or right before.  That’s okay if it feels right, if you feel a deep yearning to paint this.  The trick is to not get hung up on sticking with this idea.  It is important to allow the process to take control rather than you try to control the process.   In the same vein, it is essential to the integrity of your expression and painting process that when you paint your image which came to you in the moment, that you stay true to it.  That is to say that you accept how it comes out and not change it to another image simply because you don’t like it.  When you feel those feelings of wanting to change the painting drastically, sit with them for a few moments and see what comes to you.

 

  • Where does your brush want to go next?
  • What can you add while maintaining the integrity of your expression?

 

 

To intuitively paint means to allow the idea to have a life of it’s own as it dances across the paper into your vision.  It may change and morph into something else.  Beware of wanting to annihilate it, wiping it out completely from your sight.  Trust what comes forth, honour it and respect it by giving it the space it deserves.  Whether you like it or not.

 

Rather than painting over images that surprise, frighten or disappoint you, sit with them. Drink them in with your eyes (not your mind).  Feel them.  This can be hard to do. So called “rational mind” (AKA monkey mind ) wants to step in and persuade you to do something about what you see.

First Live Chat Recording:

petrea on livestream.com. Broadcast Live Free

Week Three

Sunday

 

Inner Critic Collage

One way to face your fears of being criticized or judged is to face your harshest judge, that of your inner critic.  I believe our inner critics have valuable messages to tell us, they just aren’t  always as diplomatic and gentle in conveying them as we would like.  One way to understand our inner critic better is to face them.

For this exercise you will need either magazine pictures to choose from or if you choose to do it digitally then you can get images from some place like Pinterest and collage them in a program such as Adobe Photoshop.  You can always print it up to put in your art journal after.  The advantage of using real magazines is that you can be a little more precise with how you cut things out to shape your inner critic.  Or you can collect images from online and print them up to cut out.  For those who are not doing this digitally, have on hand your sketchbook, scissors and a glue stick.

To start re-read your messages received and the critical messages you hear from your  inner critic.  Go through images in your magazines or online and pick out whichever images resonate with those messages.  From these images construct what you think your inner critic looks like, adding any other details with drawing materials of your choice.  Using images for your collage this way is a quick and easy way to bypass the censor.  You flip through the pages quickly grabbing those images that call to you as you think about your inner critic.  This exercise can be done in your art journal so that you can keep you inner critic contained and manageable.

 

Interview your inner critic

Now you are ready to get to know your inner critic better.  You may think you know him/her, however you may find that by asking questions of your inner critic their intentions and purpose become clearer.

To interview your inner critic place their picture at eye level where you can face them.

Thank-them for joining  you (this will engage them, so they wont be on the defence) and then tell your inner critic how you feel about what they have said.  Give your inner critic a chance to respond.  Continue to converse with your inner critic

You could also let your inner critic know that you would like to understand them better by asking them some questions.

I understand that you want to help me by pointing out certain things to me.  What is it you are trying to tell me when you say (insert one of the messages from your inner critic here).

Some people find it helpful to do this gestalt style, really getting into the activity by having two chairs one for you and one for your inner critic and switching chairs depending on who is talking.  For instance ask your question of your inner critic then switch chairs to where he/she is “sitting” and be the voice of your critic responding.  I have made a short video to demonstrate this.

If you find you still need some answers after doing this exercise try this writing exercise:

  • Write out the messages from your inner critic that are blocking you or holding you back.
  • Re-write each message in a positive supportive voice.  Note this does not mean to make everything sparkly and nice.  It means you take the underlying message or intention of  each message.

For example:

  • Inner critic: You can’t paint that!
  • Underlying message: (Fear)  Others will judge you and you will be hurt
  • OR: (fear) that is too scary to paint, it will bring up too many feelings and you will be overwhelmed.

Saturday Week Three

 

Expressive Arts Exercises:

Remember, different people find different approaches fit for them.  However, feeling uncomfortable with a certain approach may actually mean that this is the approach that will be most helpful for pushing through any fears that may be holding you back.  Keep this in mind as you go through these exercises.

 

Here is an interesting quote from the book Spiritual Warfare by Jed Mckenna:

“To move forward, you must figure out exactly what is obstructing you. Whatever it is, it isn’t really there; it has no reality, no substance. It’s your own creation, a phantom lurking in the shadows of your mind, a shadow demon. Your obstructions are your demons, and your demons are shadow dwellers. They live and thrive in the half-light of ignorance, so the way to slay a demon is by illuminating it with the full force and power of your focused attention; by looking at it, hard. Banish shadow with light and see for yourself that no obstruction exists, nor ever did. We create our demons and we feed them. To awaken we must slay them. That’s really the whole process: Slay one demon, take one step. Repeat”

 

I would have to disagree with the way he talks about banishing or slaying the shadow and demons.  I think by looking at our so-called “demons” and acknowledging them they become less scary, they don’t go away, we just see them differently, so perhaps in that sense they no longer are “demons”.  As for shadows, we need them too.

Journalling

Often my mind is spinning a mile a minute with thoughts and memories.  This can be distracting when faced with a blank page.  Before you sit down to do your process painting it is important to ready your space. This also means clearing your inner space.  Take 3-5 minutes to write whatever is on your mind however trivial, silly, mundane, or serious it may seem, write it down and dump your mind.  You can write anything, free-flowing.  It is not meant to be an exploration into what you will be painting.  However, if you find yourself writing about that then fine get it out in your journal to allow room for your imagination to take you out of your head and into your art on the big paper.  You may choose to practice this each time before doing your process painting along with any of the other warm up exercises such as movement and breathing.  Write this in your lined journal and resist the temptation to read it over after.  This exercise is process oriented and meant to empty out some of the junk that may be clogging your creative flow.  

If you already write before you paint, then you may wish to try doodling in your journal instead.  Simply get a favourite pen or fine marker and see what your hand wishes to scribble or doodle.  Some people like to make Zen-tangles, sometimes called zendoodles.  Essentially it’s elaborated doodling with repeated lines to create different patterns.  The idea is to just intuitively follow the lines, filling in, repeating, adding lines so that it is meditative.  Here is a link to give you an idea, but keep in mind there is no one right way, I’ve added the link for those of you who are not sure what I am talking about and want more information.

 

Friday Week Three

Download your mp3 Guided Meditation for Week Three HERE.  Listen to as many times as you feel the need to.  It will support you in your journey to the shadow side of self.

 

“The range of what we think and do is limited by what we fail to notice. And because we fail to notice that we fail to notice there is little we can do to change until we notice how failing to notice shapes our thoughts and deeds.”
R.D. Laing

 

Delving into the Dark-side

Have you ever wondered why so many of us are attracted to horror films, crime and mystery or autobiographies of famous people. There is something alluring about this side of human nature, the not so perfect side of human nature that we are curious about. Why is that? Deep down we know that we all have this side of us that we see as less than acceptable. While we may not be mass murderers, sometimes we may have experienced an anger so strong that we recognize a destructive side of ourselves. This side is usually pushed away for fear of what we might do. But destruction, death, anger and the other “dark arts” are an essential part of life. We can not have new space without destruction of old; new life springs out of death in nature. Anger fuels action and can push one forward. Anger doesn’t have to lead to destruction.

 

Artistic license

 

Welcome so-called “accidents” they are your Muse’s way of taking you where you need to go. There are no mistakes.

 

Images will morph before you if you allow them to. Just because you started painting a house doesn’t mean it will end up one in your painting. This is where it is important to let go of any preconceived notions. If you feel that it is the fault of lack of technical skill that brought you there think again. Oops, I mean don’t think. It is what it is now.  Just let it be, it is there for a reason. No need to contemplate what that might be right now. Remember this is not about intellectualizing your painting this is about following your painting where it leads you and being open to discovery.

When I work with parents in my clinical practice sometimes one of the hardest thing for them to do is allow their imagination to lead. They often will get stuck in the role of teacher rather than allowing themselves to let go and play with their children. They point out factual information to their children unable to let go into their imagination. The elephant that the child calls or pretends is a dinosaur is disregarded as the parent looks for the real thing. The person that is painted without hands or nose or ears is pointed out as a mistake – “you forgot the hands” – in an effort for things to be realistic and predictable.

One of the things that most parents have difficulty with is aggression that shows up either in the art or the story that the child shares. It’s as if they fear that in accepting this in the play (rather than saying the standard “that’s not very nice”), that they will be condoning violence in their child. But the two are different. The art is a safe place to explore and express these feelings. They are expressions they are not you. You are not your painting.

This week be the permissive parent with yourself.  Each time you paint, allow the unpredictable, allow so-called “mistakes”, allow “unsavoury” images to come forth if they so choose. Really let go, surrendering to your imagination and where ever it may take you.

 

Facing Fears

Photo Credit: Rahat Pye

Photo Credit: Rahat Pye

 

“Never fear shadows.They simply mean there’s a light shining somewhere nearby.”

~Ruth E. Renkel

When we connect with that part of ourselves that has been ignored or pushed aside, great things happen. We become alive, less burdened and ready to face our life in a more fully present way.

We all have skeletons in our closest. Things we would rather forget, that linger in the crevices of our mind because we have not truly dealt with them. We need to face these, not to analyze them and deconstruct every detail with our intellect. We need to face them head on in all their confusion and unknowing so that we can put them to rest and be at peace with them.

We need to give the “dark side” the recognition it deserves for playing a part in our lives. Give it a funeral, but not the standard Western “Civilization” kind of funeral that mourns and suffers with regret and lament. Rather we need to celebrate these parts of ourselves by accepting them as part of life, as part of creating and pulling out our strengths by challenging us. Only then will we be able to let go of the pain once we release them.

In process painting we face these so-called demons head on. We face them not out of choice but out of allowing. We don’t will them into our paintings but rather we allow them the space should they choose to make themselves known. Once they have revealed themselves in the flow of the process, outing themselves amongst the images created before our eyes by the paint brush, then they are released. However, once we get caught up in intellectualizing them with our words, dissecting their shell through the imagery, then we are right back to hanging on to them. Explaining their pain, suffering, cause -that excuses us from taking on all of our life, the “good” and the “bad”.

 

When we bury our “dark-side” that part of ourselves that we are uncomfortable with, an important part of ourselves is left unexpressed. This is often why these parts of self come up in our paintings, because we keep denying and repressing their expression instead of accepting them as parts of our selves. Within these other parts of ourselves are many untapped lessons and strengths.

By allowing ourselves to paint these darker less “acceptable” images, we allow ourselves to become more comfortable with our expression of these parts of self that have previously been rejected.

 

 

Below is a process oriented video to help guide you through week three. Before you begin each painting session, remember to take some time to centre yourself with a few deep breaths, really coming into your body and out of your head. Do either of the two, guided meditations you have received to help support you with this process. Remember to stay hydrated if you are working for extended periods and take breaks to stretch and breathe.

 

Are you ready to allow your self to express, no matter what that may be? Without attachment to it’s meaning? Without judgement of it’s content?

“The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing.” ~Walt Disney

Monday Week Three

 

“You have to leave the city of your comfort and go into the wilderness of your intuition. What you’ll discover will be wonderful. What you’ll discover is yourself.”

~Alan Alda

Photo credit: Rahat Pye

 

“No matter how fast you run, your shadow keeps up. Sometimes it’s in front! Only full overhead sun diminishes your shadow. But that shadow has been serving you. What hurts you, blesses you. Darkness is your candle. Your boundaries are your quest. ……. You must have shadow and light source both. Listen, and lay your head under the tree of awe.”

~Mevlana Rumi

 

 

Calming the Critic

In order to move past our inner critic(s) we need to work with them.  Their job is to bring our attention to something, to voice our fears, and our insecurities so that we can face them, not run from them.  So in that sense our inner critics have a job to do.  Their job is  to  remind us of what gets in our way.  Now sometimes admittedly our inner critics exaggerate or blow things out of proportion and perhaps they are overly critical.  Again, there is a reason for this, it is to call our attention to something that needs to change.  Usually what needs to change is a thought or a way of thinking about things that we have picked up and have hung on to somewhere along our journey.  Often these thoughts or responses served us well in the moment, but as we change and grow they no longer serve us well.

Sometimes these accumulated thoughts or self-criticism are messages we have received from others which we have learned to repeat over and over like the replay button on the mp3 player.  Habit, you could call it.  Our inner critics bring our attention to these habitually repeated inner scripts.  They try to make us aware of them. As I said, their job is to remind us and sometimes they are trying to protect us.  But they are acting from a place of fear.  The may serve us better as messengers and protectors if we re-write their job description.  Give them something useful to do, that will help us.

Before we can do that however, their messages need to be acknowledged and appropriately addressed or simply recognized as habit that need changing.

 

Messages, Journal Exercise:

We’ve all received conflicting messages at some point in our lives that have held us back in some way from fully expressing ourselves.  This week we will focus on how to deal with discouraging inner discourse.  First we need to identify messages that we have received that may be feeding our inner critic.

Think about when you were a child and any messages you received about your art or art in general. In your writing journal, write down some of the messages (whether you perceive them as positive or negative) you have either heard or were implied by action.  If you have an image that comes to you or feel the need to paint about these messages, do so in your art journal or if you are called to on bigger paper.

What are some of the messages you received either implicitly or explicitly:

From your parents or family:

From your teacher:

From your friends:

From the media:

 

How have these messages held you back from exploring your creative side?

How have these messages helped you connect more with your creative source?

What messages do you still carry around with you today?

How are they different?

Which messages have become the script of your inner critic?  

Take some time to write the messages of your inner critic.

 

Sometimes it’s not so obvious what messages may have interfered with our creativity.  For example, many times praise and acknowledgement of our creativity can restrict us in ways we are not aware.  We may feel the need to live up to other’s expectations of what our art should look like and be afraid to explore beyond those parameters.

Write about what being creative meant to you growing up.

 

 

Are you feeling stuck? Is your inner critic getting in your way? Stop by the Painting with Your Muse Forum and start a discussion about it if you are called to.  Rumour has it you are not the only one! Feeling stuck or inhibited is a big part of the process.  It is likely the reason most of you are here, to get past the “stuck”.  But rather than resisting that stuck feeling allow yourself to sit with it, feel it, heck why not even paint it! You just may surprise yourself.

 

Sunday Week Two

What do you most need to hear?

Sometimes we are so busy listening to what everyone else is saying we should do or say or feel that we forget to tune in and listen to our own inner voice and what we need.  What is it that you most need to hear. What message, reassurance, affirmation would be most helpful to you right now, this minute, hour, day, time of your life?

Write in your journal for about 5 minutes exploring this question.  Begin by writing I need to hear, or my inner wise self tells me, or my inner Muse says . . . . Keep writing for the full five  minutes, anything goes, it does not have to make sense.  When you are done, pull from it the messages you need to hear.  Design a tear off poster with a central message on the poster and the different (or all the same) messages that you most need to hear right now. Tear off a message each time you need a reminder and carry it with you and post it up in your work or art area.

I found the message above posted on a post on my way to work one day.  At the beginning of the day only a few had been torn away.  By the end of the day all of them, on the several posters which were up, had been torn off.  Sometimes it is these little things that can make your day.  Why not make a poster for yourself and one you surreptitiously put up for others in public?

Alternatively you may wish to write your special messages of encouragement on cue cards, picking from one a day and posting it in your art area.

Saturday Week Two:

Intuitive Inkblot Painting: 

A daily exercise for your imagination.

 

Materials:

Liquid Paint (not watercolour)

Black or Coloured ink (optional)

Sketch book or paper to fold

markers, pens, crayons- any drawing materials you desire (optional), or simply use paint.

Imagination (not optional)

 

Here is a video on making paint/inkblot art:

 

In a nutshell, here are some ways you can make paint/inkblot art:

    • Use one colour or 2-3 colours- you can always add more colour in after when you are transforming your paint blot.
    • Or add one colour at a time fold dry and add another colour if the paint blot tells you to! Let the paint drip when you put it on, dap it on with a brush, fingers, or stick. Spray it on, use a dropper- anything goes- just don’t let the paint dry before folding the paper together  or else it won’t make a print.
    • Sit with the blot until you see something to enhance, form or shape.
    • Remember to look in the empty spaces as well to see what shapes or forms appear to you.
    • Turn the paper around and look at it from different angles.
    • Use a paint brush with paint a marker or pencils pens to draw in your details of what you see.
    • Sit with it looking at it and listen to wether it is finished or not.
    • The idea is for it to be a quick way to practice following your intuition while painting and creating.
    • Continue doing daily if possible to strengthen your imaginative muscles and encourage free flowing expression.

Tip: Make a whole bunch of blots at the beginning of the week, (one for each day) then they are ready to embellish as above for your daily practice. Make sure you open the book and allow the pages to dry, especially of you are doing multiple blots at once.

Friday Week Two

How often should I process paint?

“There is no must in art because art is free” Wassily Kandinsky

 

That is really up to you, there are no “shoulds” trust your intuition.  However, I can tell you that the more you allow yourself to paint in this manner, the more comfortable you will become with process painting and the deeper you will be able to go.  If you can start by working on your first painting for about 2-4 hours for 1-2 days on the weekend then you will be able to delve into the process with less interruption from your intellect and perhaps break some old habits that inhibit your expression.

If this is not realistic for you, no worries, we all must do what fits for us.  Just be sure you are not falling back on excuses that are enabling procrastination.  Of course take breaks when you need to; get out and do something else, leave the painting behind both physically and mentally then return to it.  There is no perfect moment to process paint, no need to be inspired.  The painting process will inspire you in and of itself if you follow it and give it the space.  Have a back up plan by scheduling in time throughout the day dedicated just for your painting.

For the purpose of this course I made a sample schedule to get you started.  Tweak it to fit your schedule.  I highly recommend that you try to do as much painting as you can during the course to establish a routine for yourself, get familiar with intuitive painting and be able to access the support of myself and the others who are on this adventure during the next 4 weeks.   Do read the materials, watch the videos and ask questions.  However you will not truly “know” the power of process painting until you actually do it.

Sample schedule:

As  often as you wish visit  Painting With Your Muse forum for support/camaraderie, and accountability.

Saturday:

Review Course Materials online
Watch process video & intro for the week
2-4 hrs process painting

Sunday: 2-4 hrs process painting

Monday-Friday

daily practice

Do warm-up exercise(s) 5-15 minutes daily

Listen to guided meditation daily

Recap:

Some Ways to Practice:

  • Use the guided meditation as a starting place.  After listening to it once, you can start to practice closing your eyes and observing images which you then can pull from for your daily journal painting practice.  If you have more time or prefer to work bigger, then feel free to use the larger paper for this.
  • Use the paint brush to make large, small, fast, slow strokes in the air.  Dab it in a paint colour that calls to you in the moment and begin to scribble on the paper with the brush.  Focus only on the movement of the brush, and what feels good to you. Stop after a few minutes. Look at your painting up close as well as stepping back from it.  Choose another colour and fill in parts of the painting (white spaces) that are calling for paint.
  • Paint the first word that comes to mind when you face the paper. Continue painting based on this word.
  • Use marker, crayon, pastel or paint to write a phrase or quote that you find soothing or motivating. Add more paint as you see fit.
  • Finger or body painting in journal or on larger paper.
  • Explore the 5 rhythms/movements (flow, staccato, chaos, lyrical, stillness) movements with or without Mp3 in journal painting or on larger paper
  • Try another journal or warm-up exercise from Monday or Friday in the weeks to come or combine any of them together. Experiment!

 

Monday Week Two

Process Painting

 

 

Intuitive process painting means following your inner guidance as to how to proceed with your painting.  In the beginning, it may be tempting to rush through the process and finish quickly.  However, while you are fine-tuning your intuition and getting use to painting without a plan it is important to give yourself and your painting the time to get to know each other.  Step away from your painting from time to time, observing it from different angles and perspectives.  Get closer to your painting, focusing in on a part that you are drawn to.  Take your cues from the painting as to what you should do.  This process painting you will be spending a little more time on than you did for the warm-up and expressive arts exercises.  You will continue painting this painting until it feels done, which means you may paint on it a few hours one day and then another for a week or more. When you run out of space and think you are done, you can add more paper on to some or all sides to allow the painting to expand and evolve more.  View the videos for guidance, but above all, listen to what your inner muse is telling you.

 

Before you begin, ask yourself:

Am I concerned with how it will look?”  If so, acknowledge this and let it go. To be truly spontaneous in your expression you need to release any judgements and preconceived notions of results.

Do I have an image of how I want the end result to look?” It’s okay to start with an idea if it has just come to you as you start but try not to be too attached to it.  You may find that it morphs into something else as you allow yourself to be spontaneous and follow the flow of painting.  It is unnecessary to “know” where to start.

Have your area ready with drop sheet, paint smock,  paint, palette, paper, container with water, and drinking water for you.

Pick a colour to start, and paint on the paper allowing the paint  to flow over the paper from your finger tips or whatever you are using.  Be led by the painting, try not to lead it.  If your fingers are calling for another colour, allow them.  This is where the painting becomes a kind of meditation: you are focused on what is happening in the present, not thinking ahead to where you want to be with the painting.  If your mind jumps ahead just notice whatever it is focusing on and focus back on your painting and what is unfolding, colours shapes, perhaps you are aware of the paint on your hands and how it feels, or perhaps you are aware of some feelings that arise as you paint.  It’s all okay, just notice and release.

I have made a video for you to help you get started with your process painting.

Week One:

 Sunday

Connecting With your Internal Creative Rhythm

Movement can take us out of our heads and back into our bodies.  I can remember when I was a child how easily I moved to the music around me without a thought of how I looked to others.  As I became older I became more self-conscious and controlled my movements more to fit a certain look.  I remember viewing old film (yes actual film on a reel, not videos) and seeing myself dance like a free spirit, carefree and joyous.

When I was in University studying psychology, I stumbled upon a modern dance course for non-dance majors and jumped (literally) at the chance to connect with that part of myself again.  Although there was some technique involved in the course, a big component of the course was expressing an inner story through dance and movement.  I became familiar once again with the language of the body.  Both it’s subtle and gross motor movements allowed me to connect with myself in a different realm.

You don’t have to be a dancer to reap the benefits of moving into your body.  You can use whatever mode of movement speaks to you as a warm-up, whether yoga, tai chi, or free style dance.  Even jumping-jacks if you wish.  The movement can also be subtle like rolling of your shoulders (we all tend to hold tension in the shoulders) or clenching and releasing your fists.  These movements can be done between pauses in painting as well to help ground you and bring you back to your body. For example, stomping your feet while process painting  can really help ground you.

Moving to music is an easy way of introducing some movement into your warm-up when you are not sure “how” to move.  I personally enjoy the 5 Rhythms approach to movement and dance by Gabriel  Roth.  She uses the different rhythms and beats as a guide to connect with your inner expression and feelings. I have included a video for you to get a feel for these rhythms. I feel that her  description of this dance process can be interchanged easily for the process of painting.

 

I have included a dancing meditation with original music by Christos, Ares and Alexi Adamidis for you to download. It will take you through different rhythms to help you warm up for your painting.

Download your Rhythms Movement Exercise Mp3 here.

Give yourself space to move around.  Listen to your body and what it needs. Please do not attempt to do movements that are difficult or taxing on your body. Wear clothing that you will be comfortable dancing in.  Listen to the beat and tempo of the music and allow your body to respond with any movement that it pleases.  As with process painting, there is not only one way to respond with your body.  However your body responds to the music is fine.

First start by solely moving to the music in a moving meditation.  Allow your body to be free as you are physically able, taking care not to over extend yourself.  The 5 rhythms you will hear will be flowing, staccato, chaos, lyrical, and stillness.  Use the sound as a guide for loosening you up and freeing a different part of your creativity.  Remember this is not about producing a painting, this is about connecting with self through rhythm and painting. Listen to the musicality and allow your body to respond to the rhythm any way it wants, on beat or off, quick or slow, smooth or rough.

According to Gabriel Roth, The five rhythms (in order) are flowing, staccato, chaos, lyrical, and stillness. The five rhythms, when danced in sequence, are known as a “Wave”.

 

Rhythms for finger Painting

Gather your materials: paint,  large paper (use your practice paper) water (for paint and to hydrate) rag and prepare your self and your space.  Now it is time to translate this rediscovered movement into your art expression.  For this warm-up exercise, it is important to allow yourself to step outside your comfort zone.   You will be painting with your fingers minimally, and if that seems comfortable enough for you, then step outside your known comfort zone and use another body part or parts to paint with.  The idea is that you are trying something new to shift your present way of approaching your expression.

You can either use the Mp3 of the different rhythms and see how they play out in your finger painting or take pauses and recall the movement from the movement exercise and allow your body to flow from the different movements. Follow your intuition and move between the different rhythms that Gabrielle Roth identifies as flow, staccato, chaos, lyrical, stillness.  There is no one way to do this, there is not one right way.  Tune into your body and allow it’s movements to guide your painting.

I have included a video, however please note that this is my interpretation of the different movements.  Yours will be unique to you.

 

Week One: Saturday

Guided Meditation 

Download your Guided Imagery Meditation for Week One here.

To use the guided meditation, find a comfortable spot to either sit or lie down and listen to the mp3.  This meditation is designed to help you exercise your intuition through imagery creation. Listen to this guided meditation throughout the week as many times as you are called to.

Art Journaling  Daily Practice

Choose a time of day where you can add in a new ritual/routine of creating daily art for 5 minutes minimum, if you have 15 minutes then go for it.  You may want to do this first thing upon waking up, in the evening (but not right before bed or you may overstimulate your brain and find it gard to sleep), on a lunch break, or at any other time during the day when you can schedule it in regularly.

Remember, it is not about the product it is about the process of doing, creating, and  making a commitment to your self to engage in some creative expression through painting.  By creating daily space in your day for art, you set the tone that creating art is important and you send a message to your muse that she is welcome.  Actions speak louder than words.

Some Ways to Practice:

  • Use the guided meditation as a starting place.  After listening to it once, you can start to practice closing your eyes and observing images which you then can pull from for your daily journal painting practice.  If you have more time or prefer to work bigger, then feel free to use the larger paper for this.
  • Use the paint brush to make large, small, fast, slow strokes in the air.  Dab it in a paint colour that calls to you in the moment and begin to scribble on the paper with the brush.  Focus only on the movement of the brush, and what feels good to you. Stop after a few minutes. Look at your painting up close as well as stepping back from it.  Choose another colour and fill in parts of the painting (white spaces) that are calling for paint.
  • Paint the first word that comes to mind when you face the paper. Continue painting based on this word.
  • Use marker, crayon, pastel or paint to write a phrase or quote that you find soothing or motivating. Add more paint as you see fit.

 

Here are some Artful Affirmations to get you started. If one or more speaks to you then use it, or better yet use it to jump-start your own words of wisdom. These can be used in your journal, large paper painting or as a poster message in your painting area.

I am creative

I allow my inner child time to play

I am

Art is my soul

I am full of beauty

I can

I love myself

Just because….

I deserve respect

Within me there is so much potential

My heart overflows with gratitude

I choose my own path

I am my own muse

I inspire myself

All that I need is within me

 

A note about the Expressive Arts Exercises & daily practice

Before starting your daily practice, centre yourself by taking a few deep breaths, either standing with arms at your side or sitting, feet touching the ground. allow your breath to happen naturally.  You can use the guided meditation as a guide for this.

Each of us have our own unique process, we can’t make it fit into a nice tidy package.  Follow your own process, trying the exercises out in any order that calls to you. Give each an honest try. Repeat the ones that sing to you. Note the ones that make you uncomfortable. Come back to them when you are ready.

More exercises will be introduced throughout the next weeks.

 

Friday Week One

Connect With Your Child side

It took me four years to paint like Raphael, but a lifetime to paint like a child”. Pablo Picasso

One of the best ways I know to loosen up is to pretend.  Pretend you are a child, you once were after all.  You may be able to remember times when you were a child and were carefree, uninhibited about the way you expressed yourself through the arts.  You expressed the way you felt, the way you wanted to and that was all that mattered.  Even if you cannot remember a time like that as a child, this innocence of expression can be re-learned.  Watch a child you know paint, or watch a video of a child painting and see how they allow themselves to paint or dance free style.

 

Aelita Andre is a wonderful example of a child following her intuition as she paints.  To me she encompasses the freedom of expression that any one of us is capable of if given the right space for it to flow.

 

At the age of 4 she was identified as the youngest professional painter in the world.  When I watched this the first time I was thinking how free she was and how any child or any person could be this free.   The only difference between this child and others with her freedom of expression is permission.   Watch this for the process, and how freely she follows her intuition when she paints.  Keep in mind she is considered a professional artist, my intent is not to show this to you as goal to achieve the same kinds of paintings.  I simply share this video  because of the beauty of her process.  We weren’t all given the freedom that she so obviously is given.  And even if we were it does not mean we would paint like her or even be a professional artist.  I repeat: that is not the goal here.  I hesitate to say that there is a goal but if I were to say a goal, Painting in and of itself is the goal.  The sooner you surrender to this, the easier it will be to enjoy the process.  Watch Aelita’s video below.

“All of us need to be in touch with a mysterious, tantalizing source of inspiration that teases our sense of wonder and goads us on to life’s next adventure.” 

~Rob Brezsny

 

Wednesday Week One 

Your Inner Muse

Once upon a time there was a child.  This child liked to explore with her hands, experience the world with her whole body.  Her curiosity was insatiable.  She looked at things with wide wondering eyes, drinking it all in with excitement, enjoying each moment, each second.

This curious child lived to discover the world around her and within.  She was confident and proud of her accomplishments and quick to let others know “look at me!” she’d say.  She was open to trying new things, experimenting was her forte.

When she heard music she would dance with her whole body, using every muscle she could muster.  Moving to the rhythm she’d pick up on the beat, tempo and all the nuances in between.  Her dance became a reflection, not of the music, but of her Self as bold and subtle movements burst forth from her inner most being.  She did not care how she looked.  She did not care if others saw her; she was too busy dancing her dance.

When she picked up paints her eyes gleamed in anticipation, hands twitching with eagerness.  The blank paper was an invitation to explore.  An invitation to express herself in any way she wanted, in any way she deemed necessary.  Deep inside she could feel the importance of this expression.  She allowed her self to experience the paint to it’s fullest, large dollops of paint on her brush and on her hands.

The blank paper called to her: paint me, paint me, paint meThe voice that called to her was from within, the voice of her core being.  Paint ME. She listened, and she did. With a furry of motion she painted, slowing to a crawl when it called to her.  Pausing to allow the “me” to reveal itself in any way that “me” choses.

Her hands full of paint became the voice, the image, the words, the process her connection.  As her inner being spoke through her she became more energized and full of life.  She felt whole.

The more she was allowed to express this way, the more she felt a deep satisfaction with her purpose.

I have recorded a video of this story which you can watch or listen to below:

 

Exploring Your Muse

It may have been a while since you last were joined by your muse.  Your muse may have been engaging you in an endless game of hide and seek.  Perhaps it’s been a month, a year, several years, or more.  Perhaps your muse visited for what seemed a fleeting moment, only to go away again.  Whatever your situation, it can change.  Your muse is just waiting for the invitation from you to come out to explore and create.

Just one thing: there are no rules to this game of creative

expression.  There are a plenitude of ways, shapes and forms that you can use to express through painting, none of which are confined to the suggestions made here.  You may wish to paint abstractly, or not.  Large or small. Fast or slow.  With bright colours, dark colours or both.  With a brush or not.  Smearing paint or dapping paint. Using a palette, sponge, or cloth as a tool or not. There are endless possibilities.  The choice is yours.

 

Today you are invited to bring your muse more fully into your day.  Look at things through new eyes, experiment with your painting and try something different.

Painting Your Muse

Give shape and form to your muse, painting what your muse looks like.  Again, no rules.   She/he could be portrayed as abstractly, realistically or as child-like as you wish.  You can either do this small in your art journal or use a large sheet of paper.

Use your writing  journal to write your muse’s story.  Who is she/he to you?  Highlight a significant time she/he last visited you.

A note on mixing colours:

Be free with your painting. A few things to be aware of:  mixing certain colours together will make mud.  If you want to experiment like most children do and find out which combinations will make what colours, then go for it.  But if you are not sure you want the “mud” effect (when colours mix and turn a brown colour), then please check out the section below on mixing colours.  If you are already familiar with mixing colours then by all means skip this part.

In brief:

Primary colours are: red blue yellow

Mix any 2 primary colours together and you get a new secondary colour

Red + yellow= orange

Red + blue = purple/violet

Blue + yellow = green

To lighten any of the above colours add white

I.e. red + white = pink

Basically if you combine two complimentary colours (any 2 colours that are directly opposite each other on the chart below) you will create the mud effect (picture those finger paintings where a child adds so many colours then mixes them on the paper and you can’t tell what colour they started with).  Or if you combine 2 secondary colours (those mixed by combining 2 primary colours). To avoid doing this, (unless of course you are called to paint this way), make sure you use a fresh brush for different colours, change your paint water often, or better yet have more than one large container of water for washing brushes in between colours, and dab it on a rag after to get off any access dirty water that might muddy the colours.  Finally, don’t paint over wet paint, unless you want to blend a new colour.

 

 

Monday Week One

Today is your chance to get oriented.  You can access the Painting With Your Muse Forum HERE.  Please read through the forum guidelines, set up your profile, and introduce yourself. The Forum is a private member’s only area hosted on ArtTherapist.ca.

Here is a brief breakdown of what we will be covering over the next 5 weeks.

Week one we will lay down the groundwork for creative expression preparing your external and internal environment in order for your artist within to feel more comfortable.

Week two we begin to peel back the layers to your creative side, inviting you to loosen up and let go through different creative exercises.

Week three we explore the shadows, calling out and challenging the monsters that inhibit creativity.

Week four we continue to break the patterns that block your creativity.  Following your natural internal rhythm to connect with creativity.

Week five we delve deeper. Gently exploring your inner-landscape and creativity, and further connecting you to your creative source.

There will be plenty of videos, written materials, expressive arts exercises and guided visualizations (4 total) staggered throughout the next 5 weeks.  Go at your own pace, pick and choose what calls to you of the exercises and warm-ups. Above all set aside a chunk of time each week to allow your self to do intuitive process painting.

 

To get you started on this first day, please read through the sections on Creating Space, below.   This will help you prepare both your outer and inner space for Painting With Your Muse.

Creating Space

Before you can open yourself up to creating in a free way, you need to allow your self the space to let loose.  Our creativity can be crowded out by too many thoughts racing through our heads.   Procrastination mode can easily kick in if there are distractions such as clutter in our environment or clutter in our minds.

Outer Space

There are many ways that you can create a physical space no matter what your actual space restrictions may be.  I have set up spaces all over my home, some portable some not, where I can pull out my paints, put down a drop sheet, and paint.  Sometimes it’s on an easel or on my table in my kitchen because we have wonderful natural light there.

Sometimes it’s in the upstairs hallway on the cardboard covered wall (there is a lot of natural light there too).  If you don’t have a lot of natural light, that’s okay (it’s just my personal preference), a well-lit room is perfectly fine.  Any wall or large floor space works well for process painting.  Just put down a drop sheet, or cover the wall or floor with newspaper or cardboard, add some good lighting if there is not any natural light and voila you have an instant studio! I know someone who even set up a painting space in her garage!

Inner Space

Finding a physical space to create in is just one part of making space to create.  If you want to be able to let loose and express yourself there needs to be a certain amount of mental and emotional preparation as well.  Have you ever noticed how distracting it is to try to do something when there is a ton of clutter around you?  It can become an excuse that pulls you away.  De-cluttering the area that you will be creating in, not only clears your physical space making more room, but it also creates a clear passage to focus on your creating.

Before you create, make sure your direct space is de-cluttered.  Make sure you get any unnecessary papers, objects, and so forth, out of your space, without letting yourself get bogged down by tidying your whole home.  The idea is to clear the foremost area you will be creating in.  Gather up any items that don’t belong and put them in a basket.  Sort them later, otherwise you will distract yourself with trying to put everything away and once again avoid the blank paper that so patiently awaits you.

Part of preparing your environment for intuitive painting is making sure that you feel safe.  When I do art therapy with clients a big part of my work is to ensure that clients feel safe enough to express themselves. Feeling safe from the judgement of others is a big one. This is why we do the art in a private setting.  The art is only shared when the client feels safe to do so.

When you embark on intuitive painting, the same principles apply. Make sure the space you are using will not be intruded upon by others, well-meaning or not. Sometimes even the smallest of comments can distract one from going deeper into process painting. Even so-called “good” comments can be inhibiting.  Praise may be experienced as something you need to live up to.  Praise may also get you off track by valuing the aesthetically pleasing parts of painting, or valuing certain images over others.  This can set a precedence for you to  continue the painting in the same way even though you may have been ready to change course with the painting before the comment.  Comments or questions like “why’d you do that?” or “why don’t you. . .?”  or “is that a . . .?” and so forth can really set you up for second guessing yourself and in turn your intuition  We don’t need to weaken your intuition muscles we need to strengthen them!

If you can, find a space in your home where you can paint privately without prying eyes.  If space is an issue then set some ground rules with your loved ones or housemates. Let them know the importance of not commenting on your painting while you are painting. Even comments made after may interfere with future process paintings as they may set up expectations for you.

If space is an issue set aside time to paint when no one is around; either when others are at work, school or sleeping, or just ask them to give you the space without interruption if that is possible.

It is important that we carry the same principles over to the Painting with Your Muse Forum as well.  In doing so you are allowing others the benefit from your creative energy.  There is no one way or right way of how an intuitive painting “should” be. You are also challenging yourself by sharing with others to reaffirm your commitment to Painting With Your Muse.

You are welcome to share your art in the forum and have it witnesses by others starting after week 2. The reason for this is so that you can sit with your painting, finished or not, before sharing it.  This will give you the chance to listen to your intuition about what is best for your own process.

 Setting the Intention

Another way to prepare your space both inner and outer is to have some sort of quick ritual that you do to set your intention and commitment to create.  This could be as simple as spraying a favourite essential oil in the air (small spray bottle with some drops of essential oil in it), having a cup of your favourite herbal tea (ice it for the summer), doing a few yoga stretches if that is your thing, throwing on some centering music for a few minutes before you start, or closing your eyes and meditating in silence for a few minutes. Is there a favourite quote that you have which you find helps you get into a creating head space?  Display it in your painting space, writing it out in big bold paint strokes as a reminder to you intention to connect with your inner Muse. Is there a message you need to hear to help you begin? Write or paint it on or near your painting paper.

If you already have a routine that you do before you settle into creating, shift things around and see what happens.  Try something different and see how it feels, especially if you have been feeling blocked.

Wearing old clothes, a paint smock or apron and putting down drop sheets if need be, also helps you let your creative spirit loose without the inhibitions of making a mess or getting your clothes dirty.

Watch the intro video below.

A Note From Me

I am not a teacher but rather your guide. My role is to guide you back to yourself and the innate creativity that you hold within.  You are not here to learn a technique but rather unlearn the false and preconceived notions you may have about your ability to express through art. You are not here to learn something new, you are here to uncover the creativity that has been buried under years of repression. You may be here to connect with your muse who has been lying dormant since your childhood years or who has been hiding for fear of not being accepted.  You may be here because your muse has been playing hide and seek and you feel yourself growing frustrated trying to find her.  It may be that you are here because you recognize the need to nurture your muse at this time.  Only you know what brought you here.  Trust it. Nurture it.  You deserve to be heard.

Musefully yours,

 

 

I am so excited that you and your Muse will be joining me for  Painting With Your Muse!
I have made up badges for those of you who would like to show that you are taking part in this e-course on your blog or webpage.

Below I have included the html for 2  different badges, just copy and paste the html into your blog/website for the images and links to show up.  Please feel free to post a badge on your bog if it calls to you.  I would be most honored!  They are pictured below in the same order.

You are also welcome to join my Affiliate program where you have an opportunity to make some commissions on every course sign-up through your special links.  Click HERE to find out more about the Drawing The Self Out Affiliates.

<img title=”PWYMjeanieBadgeSm” src=”https://arttherapist.ca/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/PWYMjeanieBadgeSm.jpg” alt=”” width=”200″ height=”200″ />

<img title=”PWYMbadge2″src=”https://arttherapist.ca/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/PWYMbadge2.jpg” alt=”” width=”200″ height=”200″ />

Painting with Your Muse  Supply list:

 

Journals for the expressive arts exercises:

A small to medium sized blank sketchbook that has  60 pages( or more)  in it (you will be using full spread of page when open)

An inexpensive lined paper notebook for journaling in separately from the sketchbook.

Paints

A good quality Liquid Tempera Paint. I use Chroma Temp here in Canada, I have heard that Utrecht is of similar quality, which can be purchased in the USA.

If you already have Tempera paints and are on a budget then use these if you like.  However, depending on the quality of the paint you will get different results in terms of colour and texture.  Avoid the very cheap children’s paint you often find in dollar stores. If you have acrylic and prefer to use those then by all means do (just beware, you may be using a lot of paint). The reason I suggest tempera paint is that it is very affordable, so you are less likely to be inhibited for fear of “wasting” it. This way you can experiment and let loose with your painting.  You will need to have on hand minimally the primary colours: red, blue, yellow (which can be used to mix secondary colours orange, purple, green) as well as  black and white for lightening your colours.  But since it is so affordable why not get turquoise, orange, brown green violet magenta, and save yourself the trouble of trying to mix these colours yourself.

Paper:

A heavy weight paper such as Vellum Bristol 80 pound weight.  The weight is important to sustain the paint.   The size should be minimally 18”by 24” or if you find paper that is 20” by 26” or 24” by 36 or thereabouts that would work too.

As you work on your painting you may make it bigger by taping on more paper on any side of your painting.  It can grow as big as you feel is necessary for your painting to be complete.

Brushes:

Several brushes in different sizes to accommodate different strokes.

Watercolour brushes work well for this when using tempera.  I suggest you have a variety of sizes including 0 for small details, size 8 and size 14.  You may wish to have a few of the same sizes so that you can use them for different colours without having to be so careful about washing in-between.  If you use the same brush for a different colour make sure you rinse it well as any remnants of colour can change your next colour and make it muddy.  Take care of your brushes washing them well and letting them dry with their hairs up so as not to bend them out of shape.  Sponges, sponge brushes & rags are also interesting & fun to use.

Pallets, water container & miscellaneous

You can either buy the “real thing” from your local art store or use make-shift pallets such as an ice cube tray, Styrofoam trays saved from wrapped produce.  The benefit of using a pallet is that it will have dividers on it to keep your mixed paints from mixing with other paints and making a brown mess.

A few plastic spoons and plastic knifes will suffice for transferring paints from their containers to your pallets

Have a few water containers on hand that are tall enough to support your brushes with out tipping the container and large enough so you are not constantly changing water.

A spray bottle that you can use to keep you tempera paint moist if it seems to be drying is sometimes helpful.  It is also good for spraying your painting for different effects.

Scissors for changing the size or shape of your paper.

2-inch wide duct tape for taping paper together to make it larger.

 

Musefully yours,

Petrea Sig