Ugly is okay for sure, but if you’re like me, art holds certain standards. We try so many methods and techniques; we compare ourselves to others. Some styles we like some we don’t. It’s hard to know which style suits you the best. Have you ever tried just being yourself as you approach art? Forget about the rules and be free, like kids fearlessly showing up at the empty page. Paint outside the box! To reach the true core of who we are involves a lot of unlearning or ignoring what we know. Unlearning is deeply satisfying.
Like you I make a decent painting and art journal spread, and I’m proud and happy about the results. When it comes to spontaneity however, it can be very frustrating since we’re always striving for results.
My aim for this micro workshop is to give you space to be yourself, to wait and see what will come onto the page without you pushing anything.
What I get from this kind of art is a sense of Self. I can actually recognize my own energy in the art. It has a very intimate feel to it, and I find it addictive to paint in this way. I also receive sudden insights and messages about the state I’m in at the time of painting. This particular spread turned out happy, and it’s a state I’m in a lot, but others I’ve done are dark and dreary. The tendency is to rip out those kinds of pages, but to honor myself, I also have to honor my darker, more destructive side. Usually, I don’t like showing those pages to people. They are basic and pretty ugly. It’s like trying anything new and unknown, you just have to immerse yourself in it to find out the truth about it.
I invite you to explore.
I invite you to leave all your knowledge at the door and explore you inner self.
I invite you to paint “ugly,” unfettered like a child.
I invite you to meet your inner self without fear.
Are you willing to take this trip with me?
All you need is an art journal page, or a watercolor sheet, or even a canvas. Whatever you have on hand, and you need some paint, brushes, and markers. That is all. You can even use colored pencils, pencils, ballpoint pens, and oil pastels. There are no rules.
I need to point out that your art will be completely different from mine! The video will show the process I go through and you’ll get an idea how to go about it. And then you can make your own art spread, woohoo.
What do you fear? I was thinking about that this morning as I had my tea in the backyard. Then I saw that my friend Tobi Camilli had written a blog post about How To Be Fearless today. (Link at the end of this post.) Let’s kick fear to the curb!
I don’t live a life filled with fear, but it’s exactly what holds me back from creating a life that is truly great! As I had my tea I was watching a dove picking at my lawn, not showing much fear of me. I remembered a time when one of the feral cats caught a dove and the screams of fear the bird emitted. Animals (as far as I know) live in the now. I doubt they have a concept of life and death, but they feel fear at the moment of death, or at being caught.
We are born into this world as predator or victim. It is a world based on eat or be eaten, the jungle law prevails. That is the natural law of things. Animal and human alike don’t want to die. That is a built-in fear that can’t be avoided.
However, humans have taken fear to staggering heights. Through history we have tales of horrifying torture, greed, betrayal, you name it. No wonder we don’t trust each other since history inspires nothing but mistrust of our leaders and people in general.
That fear is known and normal, but what about the fear that stops us from accomplishing our goals and desires? It’s like two strains of fear that have been downloaded through the ages: one for survival and the other to make us small and helpless.
Humans rule the world and the animal kingdom with a heavy hand, all due to fear. The strongest and the wealthiest is the one in power, but truly, that is just a huge buffer against the threat of being poor and helpless.
True greatness comes from the inner unfolding of the soul / spirit. Mahatma Gandhi is a good example of that. As we know he didn’t have many worldly riches, and he ordained peaceful solutions to all conflicts. A truly masterful leader who created massive change through peace. I don’t know if he walked around with fear of assassins, but I doubt it.
Bravery comes from within. It’s not the product of an outside situation. To grow true bravery we have to become intimate with our soul and its needs. It does not want small and fearful. It wants us to step up and unfold into true greatness. We are all seeds of the gods. Your greatness is different from mine, and it’s there for the taking. We all compliment each other.
Fact of the matter is: that kind of fear is a flimsy excuse. It’s like smoke and mirrors, not really real. We are bamboozled by the specter of fear and we swear to its veracity.
But, if you have challenged fear in the past you know about the flimsy excuse and it gets easier and easier to act in the face of it.
The real challenge is to release the old patterns that our parents’ (and history) imprinted in us from day one. My parents’ message was, play it small and safe. But I have rebelled against that over and over so now is the time to eradicate such imprinting for good! I’ve been using EFT, Emotional Freedom Technique, with great success in the past, and it keeps on working. If you want to kick your fearful small self out for good, check out some YouTube videos on how to do EFT and get started.
Take charge of your life now and do the things you really want to do. You’ll be happier for it.
Tobi, as I mentioned above, has some other suggestions to releasing fear. Check out her blog HERE.
P.S. If you are looking for some free or paid e-courses that I offer, please go HERE.
Begin anywhere and anyway; have you heard it before? I’m sure you have. I have, many times, and I’ve told myself to “just do it” many times, and I do, BUT the tendency is to always fall back to the status quo of mediocrity. I could call that laziness, but that word is like a bog of negative possibilities, all not supportive of life. The solution to this is to strengthen the muscle of resolve.
So many TV programs and self-help books are dedicated to bettering yourself in some way, like losing those 30 lbs, or becoming a better parent. We get lost in the possibilities and the result is inaction, or in my case, boredom.
Let’s talk about the muscle of resolve. When you decide to stop smoking or losing weight for instance, you must have resolve, or that busy little devil on your shoulder will soon talk you into starting the new habit tomorrow, always tomorrow.
So, any time we take on a challenge we have to face making a decision. If you want to start exercising or stop a bad habit, you make that decision. There is usually a threat involved, like bad health that propels a person into action, but not always. I have seen people with stage 4 lung cancer wheel their drip bag stand out to the smoking room at the hospital and puff away. That is what I call giving up. The little devil won.
How hard is it to make a decision? It’s hard unless you’re so fed up with status quo, or as Anthony Robbins says, “you’re in so much pain you have to change.” The old is no longer an option. It’s something to pray for. Pain is good because it forces us to change, but why go that far?
That’s where the headline of this post comes in: Begin anywhere and anyway. Say you have a dream of accomplishing something great in your life. It’s that thing that’s always bugging you at the back of your mind. A deep desire for change.
I’m appalled at how stuck we are in the ruts and routines and the FEARS of change. But if you truly want to change, to create something new for yourself, start NOW. You don’t need fancy equipment (well, you might at some point but not now,) you don’t need extra time, you don’t need a block of 2 days of me-time to get things straightened out.
All you need is to make that decision, and make it over and over when you fall of the wagon. As you keep dedicating yourself you build the resolve muscle you will have to re-make your decision. The trick to staying on the wagon is to get some excitement going about your project. It makes the decision easy every time.
Start with ONE thing to forward your dream. It could be as little as a phone call or email.
What can you do this week, Monday-Friday, to make strides? Make a short list of doable steps. Only you know what is needed. As you take small actions every day, your excitement will grow, and so will your commitment.
Then you fall off the wagon again… and again.
BUT the tool is simple. Make tiny goals each day and accomplish them, and as you follow this path, your to-do list will grow because you can see the progress, and you want to get THERE, so you delve more deeply into the dream and find more possibilities for expansion. One step can reveal a big revelation. One email can open doors to connections you only dreamed of in the past.
What do I do every day? I am an artist and writer, and those are the subjects I keep delving into every day. My morning looks like this pretty much every morning:
Cup of tea in my back yard.
Meditate to get in the flow.
Walk 20 minutes. Hot as hell sometimes in FL. I slacked with my exercise for years, but I used to be committed to keeping in shape, and I discovered that muscle memory still works! Now I’m addicted to walking.
Write 750 word in my online journal at 750words.com. I usually write more than that since writing is in my blood and I like to blog as well.
Have a green smoothie for breakfast, and after that I feel out what I want to focus on that day. It’s not always easy. The little devil will always sit there and jabber away, but he can be trained!
When I was a fulltime writer I made up my mind to write ten pages a day, and I have followed that for forever. The writing isn’t always glowing. It rarely is, but I keep going. I have no fears around showing up on the page. Crappy writing can always be fixed.
Art is a different animal altogether. That muscle has a mind of its own… I have never been able to tame it, but my challenge is to show up at the art journal page or the canvas. I can do that, but the resistance is powerful most of the time. They say to push through the resistance and I do, and I find myself happy on the other side. The other kind of resistance is the one that says “this is not good for you.” It has a different feel, like facing a brick wall. Then I listen to that, and every day has a forward flow of small positive increments.
When I fall off the wagon I get so uncomfortable in my skin that I have to get back on, or DIE, (not really, but there is no compromise.)
To accomplish something worthwhile, start tiny and grow from there. Make that decision, dedicate yourself, kick the fears to the curb, take small action steps, and soon you’ll have something new and wonderful in your life. Grow your awesome self via the muscle of resolve!!! 🙂
Process versus product is a concept I have struggled with for a while as an artist. Do you paint pretty paintings that sell, or are you true to your own process? Small kids will always be true to their process. They paint with abandon, and their art is filled with joyous energy. We lose that wild creativity because we start judging the art at some point. According to our preferences, it’s good or bad. There are artists like Jackson Pollock that I don’t particularly admire, but the energy in his dripped art is phenomenal. People pick up on the energy. Art that we would reject without a second glance sell for millions.
Artists love making a living from their art; that’s a given. I find myself always judging my own art. Is it salable, or is it junk? We would not judge kids’ art as junk, but maybe some do.
I do enjoy making crafts too, but they don’t count in this kind of dilemma. Crafting is a more peaceful, straightforward process and you know the end result. It tends to get tedious in the long run while painting never gets tedious but can be extremely challenging. Sometimes it gets to a point where I don’t want to be challenged, and I paint something pretty.
There is nothing wrong with pretty, but I want to paint from my true inner genius.
In my years of painting, I was always drawn to intuitive expression, which means standing in front of a blank canvas and just reach for the first color that comes to mind and paint something, whatever I am drawn topaint. The canvas will decide what is to come. It’s a frightening but exciting process to watch the artwork emerge on its own. It’s torture sometimes, but it’s a process I’ve never quite been able to leave. I started painting this way back in the 90s after reading Aviva Gold’s Painting From The Source. Later in this post I will display a list of the books that have influenced my intuitive painting the most.
When I started reading Gold’s book, I could not put it down. She suggests using poster boards and tempera paint, which are inexpensive tools to experiment with. No expensive canvases to “destroy.”
Here are two pictures of old intuitive art I painted in the 90s. I have some huge paintings that are rolled up in my closet, and I can’t bear to throw them away. However, there is no wall space for them where I live.
These guys ended up being parrots in the jungle, but I probably started out with a blob of paint in the middle of the poster board. There is a lot of detail underneath the birds, and I believe that all layers add to the finished art. I still paint in many layers.
This is a huge, really weird painting, but it had lots of energy. I painted it over an old framed painting, and it sold and was shipped off. Intuitive art is like dreams in many ways. The images are fragmented and don’t seem to make sense, but there is always an underlying message. The subconscious speaks through the art if you ALLOW it.
Here is another kind of fun variation of intuitive painting. I ended up painting my own hands all over the art.
Art journaling is also a good way to experiment. You know the art is just for you. The pressure of selling it is gone, and you can go crazy on the pages.
I admire my big brother, Ingvar Staffans, who has painted all of his life. He only uses black, white, brown, and maybe some beige in his art. He paints HUGE abstract expressions and have never even tried to paint pretty pictures. He is true to his own art. Some of it I don’t like, but some bowls me over with its amazing energy. He’s not afraid to experiment and I respect that.
Hard to believe we’re related, huh? He never read any books on intuitive painting, lol. He is a process man, not a product man.
Anyway, here is the list of books that can inspire you to paint intuitively. I particularly recommend Michele Cassou’s books. They will tell what to do when you get stuck. Her process is totally freeing. The book links are to Amazon. Some you can probably find at the library.
A more recent book: PAINT MOJO by Tracy Verdugo HERE.
Another book to help open up your creativity is THE TRICKSTER’S HAT by Nick Bantock HERE.
And the classic THE ARTIST’S WAY by Julia Cameron HERE.
I thought I would try a grungy sort of art journaling technique since I always paint in bright colors. My brother would be proud! 🙂
This is not pretty, but meaningful to me. At this point I just want to express myself, not necessarily paint pretty pictures. It is an evolving journey! I made a video of this art journal spread, and you can watch it HERE.
What are you working on today? It is important … because life happens NOW.
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