My intuitive painting instructor once gave an interview to a regional newspaper. This is what she had to say about her classes:
“Intuitive painting is painting what spontaneously comes up from within you. The classes are not very popular because many people are frightened of intuitive painting. You get to know yourself quite well through this form of art.”¹
My first reaction was surprise. I assumed she’d talk up her business and try to get more students, but my teacher told the truth for two reasons. First, she’s a truthful person. Second, she wants students who are willing to take the unpopular path. Some people will show up for one lesson and never return. Others will try, but they focus on making their painting attractive (whatever that means to them) rather than daring to paint what they truly want to paint. They become frustrated with the class and quit.
I understand their fear very well. Creative endeavours can be scary. They require a lot of courage, and it can take several attempts before someone makes their breakthrough. So many people give up because they don’t want to get to know themselves. No one wants to admit that they’re frightened. No one wants to admit that they’re embarrassed by their work, or that they’re worried about what other people will think of them. Feeling that way means you’re shallow and vain, right? It’s much easier to not even try in the first place.
I know this feeling because I’ve been there. You don’t have to stay there, though. Not if you take the unpopular path. I have seen the results with my own eyes. I saw the work of the women who came to class every week. I saw them bloom and grow, moving from being embarrassed to being excited to share their work with the class. We’ve all created intricate, vivid pieces, filled with emotion that leapt off the page. We went from being anxious to a willingness to challenge ourselves, and be honest about our feelings and experiences. Our paintings aren’t always pretty. A few of mine freaked everyone out. But our work is always honest. It has depth and it resonates. It is truthful. When our paintings are both pretty and truthful, they take everyone’s breath away.
The popular option is to give up. But it’s the unpopular path that yields results. Take a step on that path today.
- NoordHollands Dagblad, 20 April, 2012; Halte Ijmond.
This week’s prompts
Use the following prompts to start a new piece, continue an existing one, or to just have fun with words.
1. Snapping back with resilience…
2. Red, plastic and tough…
3. Loofah birthday surprise!
4. “Guess what I bought today,” said…
5. The silver tin gleamed…
Questions? Suggestions? Feel free to drop me a line at email@example.com.