In the first part of this article, I shared about the practice of intuitive painting as a personally transformative and liberating way to develop mindfulness and connect with your inner creative source. In this second part, I will share with you two of the most common blockages that we face when we start intuitive painting and how to overcome them.
1) The fear of the “white canvas”
One of the most important blockages for a novice painting student is to place the first strokes on a blank canvas or paper. In the case of intuitive painting it happens too, and it may be even more intense because we are expressing internal aspects of our mind, opening and showing them to the outside world. We are showing who we are, what we are feeling, what we have inside. This is very powerful.
The fear we experience as we look at the white canvas in front of us relates to several things. First, it relates to the feeling that by putting the first stroke or color, at the same time we rule out a thousand other possibilities, many more ways to go. Also, it relates to the lack of internal trust, to the logic of the head bringing questions (comparisons, references, and so on) that end up making you doubt what you are going to paint. Finally, it relates to the fear that the process has no going back, that when we put a color or shape we cannot change it later. But not quite.
In intuitive painting, one of the most fascinating things is the transformative power it gives you during the process. In an intuitive painting session, you start painting one way, and gradually you will come to realize how it is changing, taking different forms; it may change so much that it may even seem that you are completely redoing it again. Thus, the end result can be so unexpected that you may even be surprised. Or not.
So the first thing to keep in mind when starting a painting is that you have this freedom to be able to change direction anytime you want. You are in charge, and the most important of the process is the process itself, not the result. Just like in life. Over time and with practice, you can refine your techniques and your visual identity, achieving more consistent and cohesive results among your various paintings, while always maintaining your unique and personal visual voice.
There are several tips you can do when starting a painting to “cut out” this initial block. One can simply be writing words that represent your feelings or mental state, names of objects, places, situations, people, etc., that you want to work on painting. This allows you to take the first step on the canvas and put some intentions into your painting. You can also apply a thin layer of paint (diluted with water or the solvent you are using) covering the entire canvas, which will be one of many layers of background paint that will build your painting. Then these words or previous layers of colors can be “erased” by skipping over new (translucent or not) layers of paint; You can also leave some visible areas of these previous layers, depending on what you want. Having multiple layers of paint adds depth to your painting and allows you to make very interesting effects.
In intuitive painting you learn how to consciously tackle and break these blocks based on self-confidence and practice. It also helps you be kinder and more compassionate to yourself, unearth your most vital and deep needs, and learn to live from a more empowered place.
2) Facing your inner critic
Usually, we tend to be more severely critical with ourselves than with others. This constant judgment of ourselves can restrain our motivation, can frustrate us and limit our creativity because of the fear of “not being good enough”. The antidote for this is to learn to tame your inner critic, which is nothing but learning to accept without judgment.
Be in the present moment, let your inner creativity flow, without expectation of what will be the result, accepting it whatever it is. The result must be unknown and unexpected – that’s why it is called intuitive painting. Once your painting is complete, you can add other elements, but only after you have done the experience.
Intuitive painting offers a creative and personal freedom path. The results are not meant to be judged at all, they allow unplanned shapes and figures to emerge from the unconscious, and so they become a visual diary of your mental state and therefore a source of self-awareness.
Generally speaking, these non-judgmental accepting exercises help you learn to let go, to develop greater equanimity and neutrality in the face of events. This will allow you to access a state of non-reaction to serious events or dramas of life: the conscious act of painting soothes the mind and gives you a neutral and safe platform for expressing your feelings, especially when struggling with the ups and downs of life.
Mindfulness as the solution
In today’s society where everything seems to go at a very high speed, where we perform multiple tasks simultaneously and are subject to countless stimuli of information (and misinformation), one of the qualities of our mind that we gradually lose each day is our (super)power of being mindful.
Mindfulness refers to being able to focus our mind on one thing at a time, without wandering thoughts that distract us from what we are doing. We reach this state in moments of contemplation (very often in nature, such as when we observe a magnificent sunset), when we are in the creative flow (in which time passes without realizing it, and we hardly remember being hungry, thirsty or tired) and when we are meditating. So, mindfulness means being completely in the present moment.
When this happens, magic happens: finally body and mind come together and we feel a great state of inner fulfillment – which we commonly call happiness. So, being in the present moment, it’s one of the best solutions to overcome creative blocks, to clarify the mind and its purpose and direction in life, and to cultivate and adopt new healthy habits, among many other benefits.
We all strive for greater clarity, alignment, mindfulness and creativity in our lives. Meditation is a very powerful tool for achieving these goals. If you are interested in learning how to meditate and develop a mindful way of life, I highly recommend you the 42 Days of Self-Development Program of Peace Revolution. The best way to start any intuitive painting session is to practice meditation before it. This will give you a clearer state of the mind, reconnect yourself with your own intuition and purpose and give you tons of inspiration!
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Cover Art by Carolina Bertsch, 2016.