Intuitive Painting and Discoveries in the Studio

by Vivian Liebenson

There’s been a lot going on lately in my art studio.

That’s right. I have an art studio! {swoon}

For years, if I ever actually stopped procrastinating long enough to make some art, I would have to tear apart a poorly organized cupboard to find the right supplies (or worse – make a trip to the dreaded basement if what I was looking for never made it upstairs), then go work at the diningroom table or on our bed. FYI, watercolor, glue and glitter in the bed do not make for a happy hubby.
But, now, finally our spare bedroom is an art studio. Sure it still has my husband’s clothes in it, and there are still water stains on the ceiling from before we replaced the roof this winter, and it isn’t as cute as I always dreamed of, and the light stinks. But who cares?! My supplies are all organized so I can find them, my art books, journals and sketchbooks are within arms reach of my desk, there’s room for my easel, and I can go in and close the door and make art whenever I want to. And I have been. A lot.
I’ve been really into mixed media collage, art journalling, and intuitive painting lately. Whenever I’m in the studio I’m either working on an actual project or getting something ready – cutting out collage images, painting backgrounds for journal pages, or even watching some of the great videos and interviews out there from intuitive painters. It’s nice to be able to have three or four projects going at once – because I’m working on all of them, not putting off working on all them.
I’ve made two – no make that three – important discoveries over the past few weeks by working this way.

#1 – Having small tasks ready to occupy my hands keeps fear at bay.

By having several projects going at once – and more importantly – by having some mindless prep work that doesn’t require a lot of energy or decisions, I have lots of ways to bypass any fear that may come up. This is especially a problem when I have other obligations I have to deal with and can’t get to my creative calling until later in the day or evening. Then when I finally get into the studio I can feel that fear and resistance bubbling up and the old tapes start playing in my head: “Actually maybe I’m too tired now. I don’t know what to work on. etc, etc, etc.”
But by having something fairly simple like cutting out magazine pictures, or just slathering some paint in my journal without worrying when or what I may write on that page, I have something I can quickly get my hands doing. And that stops the tapes and lets me either just relax or my intuition and imagination kick in. Then, sometimes, before I know it, I’m not just cutting out pictures, but I’ve got the glue out and glued them to a page, or I have started writing in the journal too.
I really don’t need to know what I’m going to work on at all. If I have no idea, I might just sit down at my desk and take out a book with project ideas or creative prompts and start leafing through. That might be all I do that day, or it may kickstart something new, or even prompt me to finish an old project. A few weeks ago I started thumbing through one of my books of project ideas. Seconds later our 11 year old son came in and started hokking me about going to the bookstore. I convinced him to help me make some air-dry clay appliques for a wooden box I had from years ago, based on one of the projects in the book, and then I’d take him. While we were at the bookstore I looked through several inspiring collage books (that are now on my wishlist), and when I came home I finished a mixed media cake collage that I’d started in March 2014. Wouldn’t have guessed that was where I’d end up that day, but even though I didn’t know what art was going to happen, the fear didn’t get me.

#2 – Anticipating getting to my artwork is almost as fulfilling as doing the work itself.

In Kaizen-Muse Creativity Coaching we call this “Creative Foreplay” – thinking about your creativity to the point of being able to sense how a brush would feel in your hand or the smell of the paint. Or going on a quest for a video to learn a new technique, or just getting your supplies ready. It’s a tool we use to help people get past – you guessed it – fear and procrastination – and frankly I’ve only used it once (or thought I had) and that was for an assignment during my coaching training. But, in fact, I do this all the time already.
For the past few weeks I’ve been devouring everything on the internet I can find about intuitive painting – watching videos, listening to podcasts, gathering supplies. In my mind I was already there painting – the actual painting was almost beside the point.
Almost. It was pretty awesome to actually paint too. Which brings me to the third discovery.

#3 – This one is my favorite.

The other 2 weren’t a total surprise because they tied in with coaching tools – it was just neat to see them in action. But this #3 – totally new and totally delightful.
On Sunday, after all the reading and video-watching I finally started and finished a painting using this intuitive process I’d been reading about. I wasn’t sure I loved the painting, but it didn’t matter – it was about the process. But then I decided I did really like it. I posted it on facebook, and showed it to some people at work. And then I left it up on the easel and I’ve just been admiring and enjoying it all week.
I realized I actually do this a lot. Pretty much every time I finish a piece I like. I savor it and admire it for a few days. I discovered it is part of my creative process.
Anicipation, Action, Admiration. That about sums it up.

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