I just returned from another of my fabulous Wild Heart Painting extravaganzas in the High Sierras, which is one of my favorite places in the whole world to not only lead retreats but to get recharged and nourished by the gorgeous land and stunning mountainous landscape.
And each time I facilitate one of these workshops it’s an opportunity to not only hone my skills as a facilitator but to deepen my understanding of the intuitive process itself. And to also find ways to communicate about how it works even more skillfully.
One of the problems with explaining this approach to art AND to life was articulated beautifully by one of my students who I overheard saying to another group member “This process can be really difficult to understand because it’s SO ridiculously simple.”
It’s like our minds can’t really grasp some of the primary principles because they are TOO obvious.
Here’s a list of a few examples of the uncomplicated teachings that come up over and over and over again in the studio:
Do what you like.
Don’t second guess yourself. Just paint the very next thing that comes to mind.
What makes you happy? Paint that.
If you’ve got energy for what you’re doing, keep doing it.
If you don’t have energy for what you’re doing, STOP doing it.
You really, really, REALLY can’t make a mistake.
You can relax. Your painting is not that big of a deal. It’s only a piece of paper ( or canvas).
Paint what you’re feeling as you’re feeling it.
Stop thinking about what you’re going to paint and just paint.
Let your body lead the way as you paint.
Be in the process. Don’t plan for a product.
Paint what’s easy.
You can ONLY paint like yourself.
You and your painting are always ENOUGH.
You don’t have to fix or change or improve anything. Ever.
Don’t look at what you’re painting from the eyes of judgment.
It’s OK to love what you create.
Creativity is ALWAYS about movement and going forward and making the next thing that presents itself to you.
Choose a color that thrills you. Make a mark on the paper or canvas. Do it again. And again. And again.
You’ll notice that a number of these principles have to do with just doing EXACTLY what YOU want to do.
It’s not about painting like someone else. Or painting according to some art police rules or trying to mimic a current popular style. Or painting what you think you SHOULD be painting. Or painting for some one else’s enjoyment or understanding. Or painting so you will receive accolades or approval. Or money.
Your creative process is for YOU. No one else. It’s a way to express your souls deepest longings and most profound truths. It’s a way to witness yourself. To listen to yourself. To hold sacred space for yourself.
And it always amazes me and even breaks my heart a little to see how often folks believe that it’s not OK to simply express what they want to express in the way that ONLY they can express it. They think they need permission from an outside source who they assume knows more than they do about what it means to make art.
But of course, this is NEVER the case. Everything you need to be creative is already inside you. Your unique creative wisdom and creative guidance is there and always available to you at any time.
So what would it mean to grant YOURSELF all the permission you need to create what you want and to enjoy yourself while doing it. To love yourself through your art. And to remember that creativity is NEVER complicated.
It’s the purest, most profoundly elemental thing you can do, if you can only remember one thing. The well known Big Sur painter Henry Miller has a famous quote which is “Paint as you like and die happy.” Which I have translated into “Create as you like and live happy.”
So that’s it. The key to creative bliss. Almost too simple to understand. But once you truly get it, your creative life will never be the same again.