When people talk to me about why they hesitate to come to a wild heart intuitive painting class I hear two concerns voiced over and over again.
The first one is the fear that they will stand in front of a blank sheet of paper for the duration of the class and NOTHING will happen. They worry that they will be so stuck and paralyzed that they won’t even be able to pick up the brush. They imagine themselves empty and totally devoid of any creative inspiration whatsoever.
That one is easy to address because I can totally reassure them that in all of my 30+ years of teaching that has NEVER been the case. I can, with complete confidence, let them know that their worst fear will NOT come true.
Every single person who has ever come to one of my classes or workshops, no matter how scared or inexperienced, has always, ALWAYS painted something. Most people are almost SHOCKED about how easy it is to get going once they are given total permission and a safe place to express themselves.
But the second concern is a little bit more challenging to address because it has to do with wanting their painting to look good. And that is a whole other ball of chicken wire.
99% of my clientele are women.
Men have something different that they desire. They are looking to prove their mastery or competence when they stand in front of the easel. But I seldom work with them, and I’m not a man, so I don’t have as much insight into their particular struggles.
But I do know about women. And for women, the second concern has to do with pretty. Women want pretty. They feel like they NEED pretty. They want to believe that if they paint from the truth of their soul that they will GET pretty. They want me to reassure them that pretty is in their future. That pretty is a done deal. That pretty is the most likely outcome of putting brush to paper.
But that is one fear that I can’t ever quell. Because there ARE no guarantees of pretty. Not now. Not later. Not one. Not ever.
And the real problem that they have in coming to a class like mine is that they can sense that I’m not really all that interested in pretty.
Now don’t get me wrong. I love beautiful things. My house is filled with color and art. Me and my turquoise jewelry collection are involved in an ongoing love affair, and those blue-green stones provide me with a daily dose of joyous pretty that feeds me like nothing else can.
But when it comes to the intuitive painting process, what I’m really interested in is soul work.
And when it comes to soul work, I know that pretty is only one small slice of the creativity pie. And make no mistake, the intuitive painting process, when approached with the courage to be real and the hunger to heal, IS soul work.
Painting from the depths of your heart and essential self is a powerful invitation into the immense galaxy of all of who you are. And all KINDS of things live in that galaxy. Many of which are not even remotely pretty.
Chaos lives there. A whole boatload of messiness. Seemingly endless wells of grief. Terror and rage and hatred and hidden ancient pockets of pain made numb and dusty from neglect. Clumsiness shows up on a regular basis. As well as shame. Abandonment and loneliness and loss make regular appearances. Anger, frustration and intense agitation are no strangers to the intuitve painting process.
And of course the anxiety that arises when you find yourself wandering around in the unknown without a clue as to WHY something is showing up in your painting and only your intuition to guide you.
Stuff resides there that you don’t want to look at or feel because it is just too painful, scary, uncomfortable or confusing. But all of these emotions and experiences are part of the journey into the deeper realms of your soul.
The question I get all the time is “But why would you WANT to open the door into these places if they make you feel so crummy?”
Which is a totally great question. And one I love to answer. Because the wisdom of your amoeba self… the part of all of us that says “Pleasure good. Pain bad.” … is to recoil from any sort of discomfort. To shrink back from anything remotely disagreeable. To run away from it as far and fast as you can.
But the main problem with that solution is you can’t really run away from these things, because they are a part of you.
And if you simply try to avoid or repress them they suck your energy. It takes a LOT of work to keep dodging and fending off huge chunks of your inner experience. Which means that you’re spending too much of your life force protecting yourself instead of living out of your full aliveness.
But if you willingly go towards what you’ve spent all this time evading …. your struggles and your shame, your scars and your shadow … and turn them into art, miracles can happen.
If you take all those feelings and lean into them, expressing them creatively on the paper or canvas in front of you, they don’t stay the same. If you allow the tears and fears and agitations to flow through your brush, they transform. You transform. You end up having more of your sweet and precious life force accessible to you. You learn how to be present and available to all of who you are.
It seems totally counterintuitive but by embracing these difficult places you actually end up MORE joyful. More whole. More full of yourself. More wild and free. And way, way, WAY more alive.
And you end up creating much more than pretty.
What comes out of your brush is true beauty. Because beauty is what’s real. Beauty is the visible face of healing. Beauty is courage. Beauty is truth. Beauty is the sacred brought into form. Beauty is the flip side of love.
Beauty is the what we create when we make the painful and hidden and rejected places within our souls holy through creativity, compassion, acceptance and always love.