Intuitive Painting

 

I was at a crossroads when intuitive painting came into my life. At that time my father had unexpectedly died. In response, I packed up and moved closer to my mom and decided to go to grad school. I didn’t want to return to my job and life after the funeral and taken it day by day as I grieved. Back then, I felt like I had to do something different, change something.  

I decided on a grad school out of state and moved. I started to take the necessary prerequisites. I threw myself into my studio classes and thoroughly enjoyed them. The instructors treated us as if we were already working artists. I loved the 24 hour access to the facilities and working for hour after hour.

But in between projects and critiques and long hours in both the darkroom and painting studio I heard a little whisper. This whisper was urging me to unpack my watercolor paints, the kind you can find in a plastic tray at any drugstore, and let the colors swirl around a bit. I didn’t have any special watercolor paper so I used grocery bags and the back of envelopes.

Somehow as liquid colors mixed in unexpected ways on that first grocery bag I was hooked. That very act spoke to something soulful in me that the loads of extended and enjoyable studio sessions had not. I was hooked on the exploration, I was hooked not having complete control, I was hooked on the surprise.

When I started to intuitively paint, it was easy and didn’t feel like another “to do.” I opened up to the discovery of what would happen next, how the colors would mix, and how the paintings often looked different after they dried.

 

Painting with watercolor in this exploratory way allowed me to engage in uncertainty without my usual need to control.

 

I didn’t know it then, but painting in this way was strengthening my intuition. Following this inner knowing felt effortless. The paintings were small and repeatable and I painted every day on whatever was handy. This was the beginning of a personal painting practice that has been with me for decades.

It is a practice that mirrors journal writing: direct, accessible, personal, and for my eyes only. The lack of censoring in stream-of-consciousness journal writing and this kind of spontaneous painting is important. Many of us have been conditioned to disregard our natural impulses.

 

We often censor ourselves and respond to acting on our intuition with thoughts like: I can’t, that’s too weird, and what will people think?!

 

In order to create spontaneously you need to feel safe enough to try things out without being judged. I’m so happy to offer a safe space for others to paint and follow their intuition. There are fewer and fewer opportunities in our lives to meander and imagine while there seems to be so much pressure to be productive.

Spontaneous creation also needs acceptance. All the starts and stops and missteps of creating are part of the process too. It’s all perfect. Spontaneous creation asks us to let go of needing to know where our artmaking will go before we begin. This ended up being deeply healing for my controlling younger self.

 

The uncertainty that often derails us in our daily lives is crucial and feels more like possibility when you adopt the mindset of an intuitive painter.

 

It seems paradoxical that the unknown and intuitive knowing are so closely related. Grieving, depressed younger me found her way through her grief. Intuitive painting was a huge part of that.

Intuition is important. It’s our instinct. What does your intuition have to tell you?

 

If you’re in the Chicago area and are curious about intuitive painting, I’m hosting a Q & A session Sunday, July 29, 2018 at 1pm. Find out more info here. Admission is free of charge. Hope to see you!

The Wisdom of Enough

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It’s a very American concept that more is always better. However, today I’d like to talk about the idea of enough. I am reminded of the idea of just this much, and no more that I first discovered the classic chinese text the Tao Te Ching. The Tao declares that a knife can only be sharpened to its precise sharpness. If you go beyond that place and continue to hone the knife, the knife itself begins to wear away. In this case, enough is absolutely perfect. No more, and no less. This concept of enough has helped me understand that more isn’t always better. I only need enough, and that has helped me relate to myself with greater compassion.

There is often a deep-seeded fear of scarcity behind that relentless pursuit of perfection. My younger self accepted as much praise, attention, notice, kind words, and recognition whenever and from wherever it was offered because I believed that there would never be enough to go around. If only became the hidden drive. If only I could do more and compete more and win more trophies and ribbons and straight A’s. If only I could do more, I would be more.

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Rethinking Time

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You all know how special it is to have Grandma in your life. There are more treats with Grandma,and she’s a lot less strict than Mom. Even though my Grandma didn’t live in the same city as I did growing up, we saw her a lot. She was the first—and best—babysitter my parents called. She came to our performances and recitals, and we spent every major holiday together. My Norwegian Grandma grew up on a farm and married a farmer. She was accustomed to growing and cooking her own food and sewing for her family. In fact, my Grandma was a voracious creator of quilts. She sewed so many different kinds of quilts. Every bed in her house was topped by one of her creations. She gave my sisters and me quilts to mark special occasions.

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A Conversation with the Seal

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Henri Cartier-Bresson was a photographer from the early twentieth century. He had no interest in staging or prearranging photographs and pioneered what came to be known as the decisive moment photograph. He became well-known for capturing human interactions with an eye for telling a story. I had my own metaphorical decisive moment when I was brainstorming the overarching theme for this business. I was employed in a job I knew I would leave. I knew that I wanted to start my own business. However, I didn’t know what that would look like. At that time I returned to a cherished book, Women Who Run With the Wolves, by Clarissa Pinkola Estés.  After I reread a favorite story, a contemporary take on the myth of the seal woman, I had my own decisive a-ha moment. The seal’s movement into and out of the water and her need for both—along with the restorative properties of the water—inspired my business’ mission to help busy, giving women nourish themselves first.

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