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You’ve always wanted to express yourself creatively.  You decided to try intuitive painting.  You’re hoping something beautiful might somehow come out of you and become a painting.

At first it’s a blast.  You’re using a big paint brush; You’re following your body’s rhythm; You’re painting! So much color, so much beauty.  It’s everything you thought it would be.   Until…

It Got Ugly

It gets messy.  It’s ugly.  Somehow the exhilaration you were feeling has become frustration.  “How do I get back to it looking good?  I don’t like messy..I don’t like brown…I think I’m going to start over…is that ok?”

It’s natural to want to start over, but here’s the rub.  You want more than a pretty picture;  and ACCEPTANCE OF YOUR PAINTING AT THIS STAGE IS WHAT WILL OPEN THE DOOR TO NEW POSSIBILITIES.

There’s something about the creative process that requires you to go further than your inner critic; there’s so much possibility if you simply keep going.

Some years ago my husband and I had a successful ceramics business; In the process of making scores of teapots, bowls, vases, etc he found that there were just certain pieces he  fell in love with early.  It may have been the way the light was filtering in the window as he began a particular vase or perhaps his inspired new idea for glazing a bowl.

It’s Going To Be Perfect

He couldn’t wait until the piece had been fired, glazed and fired again—complete! But often during another part of the pottery making process something happened that he hadn’t intended or didn’t like and was troubled by:  He had to decide what to do.

One time in particular he had hand pinched a beautiful bowl and was in the process of glazing it.  As he began glazing the rim of the bowl, he dropped the bowl into the glaze bucket, quickly picked it up and quietly watched a substantial glob of glaze travel around and down the bowl, drip and all.

“Whoops…I don’t like what I’ve done”

He had plans for this bowl.  He knew what he wanted.  He saw it.  And this was not it.  Definitely an “Oh Shit!” moment.  Now what to do? Wipe off all the glaze since he made a mistake or keep going, allowing it to go through the firing as is?

Yep..he let it be.  And when it came out of the kiln he was amazed. Completely unintended, imperfect, incorrect, and HE LOVED IT. It was beautiful to him.  This bowl became the inspiration for a whole new line of bowls.

In your painting process, as you hit that moment of “this isn’t what I wanted this to look like” and you’re ready to grab a 4 inch brush and paint everything white:

When You Feel Like Starting Over, Don’t.

  • Stop, pause, breathe, give yourself a moment of not painting.  Put your paintbrush down with the intention of creating some space for yourself.  This is what painters deal with.  You are not alone.  You have not strayed.  You have not gone wrong.
  • Listen for your inner critic and all that it doesn’t like about your painting….gently honoring it for having this information for you. And after a minute or two of listening, let it go.  Invite your critic to take a lunch break, to take a walk outside:  It has been heard.

Your inner critic has a job to do and this is it—to keep you in your smallness, your box, to keep you from anything risky, to keep you controlled and groomed.  You are not trying to change the inner critic; you simply don’t want to get stopped by it.  There is a big difference here.

  • Now refocus on your painting, having left the “don’t like” place, look at your painting from a place of curiosity.  Get interested in something on the page, no matter how small….perhaps it’s a singular drip, or a shape that reminds you of a flower…

If You Look Again, You’ll Find Something To Say Yes To

Find something that you like and continue to paint, one stroke at a time, moving forward in your process, not backwards.

  •  And most importantly, acknowledge yourself for continuing to paint.  Congratulate yourself.  This is what it takes to paint!  Trusting yourself.  Trusting your process, the unfoldment.  Accepting, accepting, accepting.

The Unexpected Journey

It’s not necessarily what you thought it would be, but it might be the creativity you were looking for in the first place! As you continue to add more and more paint, you will notice something unexpected showing up, something you couldn’t have imagined before you started.

You are building the capacity to paint regardless of what your inner critic says.  You will get to know “ugly” and “don’t like” as steps along the way of the creative journey, nothing more. You will be surprised at what you can do and what you paint!

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The gift of allowing emotions in a painting session

by Julie Claire on September 27, 2012

Painting of Joy










Sometimes intuitive process painting is simply about having fun, putting color on a page; sometimes it is more about healing, self expression, or perhaps  an experience of jump-starting creativity.  It’s amazing at how many different experiences we can have when we invite our selves to a blank canvas. It is almost always a process of reclaiming our soul.

Sometimes when we paint, what shows up is a deep emotional experience.

During our collective check in on Wednesday morning, a participant shared that she had been developing  her “voice” and had been for a while— including her singing voice. She shared how her painting from last week– which had a lot to do with singing– was with her all week and how opportunities to “sing” showed up repeatedly during the week.  Her life was on fire. She radiated a sense of emergence when she spoke.

She also shared that she  had no idea what was going to show up today in her painting time but that she was looking forward  to  standing in the unknown, in front of a blank page.  This was only her second Wednesday of intuitive process painting. She was truly in beginner’s mind.

When she started painting, she felt a strong wave of gratitude and began painting words like “thank you” and “yes”…and lines/color…After a little while she felt an energy building in her throat, and she soon realized she was experiencing terror in her throat area, a terror she was feeling fully in the moment, but one that she knows has been with her for  many many years—decades. She allowed herself to feel it, to let the tears come through as she stood in front of her painting.  She let it be, allowing the energy to show itself.

When the tears were done and she was regrouping to paint again she shared with me her experience and how thrilled she was that she could experience that throat energy .that she was able to let it pass through her…that she could “be” with it….that she could be a witness in that way to such emotion and not get stopped or stuck in it.  She continued to paint and to feel joy as she painted.

She finished the painting session by painting into the bottom of the painting, where she saw a yellow creature, full of fun and spirit and adventure.  With a smile on her face and joy shining into the room, she shared with group what had happened and shared the freedom she was experiencing.

I never know what is going to show up  for any individual when we go to paint.  But I see that by showing up we will receive what we are calling in, if we find the ears to listen….

(This experience, as always,  shared with painter’s permission.)



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Exposing the Painting Process: My thick yellow authentic painting

August 14, 2012

One of my paintings. A unique experience. One that I know if I tried to repeat today would give me a completely different painting. I think of this one as my thick yellow authentic painting. Some months ago, I was in my Santa Fe studio and I decided to “go for it” with a painting.  […]

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Exposing the Painting Process: One Woman’s Painting

July 30, 2012

A process painting takes shape.  This is one woman’s process in a recent “Summer Saturday”.  We painted from 10am to 5pm with a nice lunch break, and lovely conversation and sacred circle. We were a group of five women, all willing to see what would happen if we brought ourselves to the paint and paintbrush. […]

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April 28, 2012

              Live Bigger I expect struggle. I expect to fall in love and lose you to another. I hold back. I protect. Until now. How can I keep this tenderness back? How can I not share this meeting of the heart? How can I not trust? The wind blows. […]

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Our Full Moon Ravens’ Nest

April 11, 2012

            Our Full Moon Ravens’ Nest and wet grass, carrying my friend’s book and my cup of green tea to the creek, hoping I have never been here before.

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Tuesday Morning

April 11, 2012

        Tuesday morning Our creek has become a river. It’s April and last year’s bridge has been broken. Wading through knee high water, my life requires me to trust the stronger pull of everything I know to be true. I’m 48 years old and there is nothing to hold onto.

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Process Painting As A Pilgrimage

March 27, 2012

      Martin Rutte took these pictures of his painting in process in last week’s Wednesday morning creativity group. When he sent these pictures to a friend of his, his friend wrote back:  What an amazing chronicle of the creative journey; almost like going on a pilgrimage with you….Thanks for sharing… I love the […]

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My new word that undoes me, kindness

February 14, 2012

I’ve been really sitting with this word, KINDNESS.  This surprising word  popped up in a meditative moment when I asked myself the question that Oriah Mountain Dreamer puts out in her book, The Call. What is my word, what is suprisingly waiting for me to know and embody?  What brings healing to my almost hidden […]

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Painting as a way of listening

January 21, 2012

“I have heard it all my life, A voice calling a name I recognized as my own,  Sometimes it comes as a soft-bellied whisper.  Sometimes it holds an edge of urgency.  But always it says:  Wake up my love.  You are walking asleep.  There’s no safety in that!” -Oriah Mountain Dreamer- As I head into […]

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