The Expressive Arts Experience - Yvette Lyons, Ph.D., Expressive Arts Therapist

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There is a lot of buzz around the painting town about intuitive painting.  But, WHAT IS INTUITIVE PAINTING? Intuition is independent of any reasoning process; or without rational thought.  Intuition is a prompting from an inner guidance or voice.  Traditional artistic training teaches us that we must have a plan.  We must block out of space and plan or color pallet.  However, in intuitive painting we suspend all of that reasoning.   Intuitive painting is not concerned with what color pallet you are ‘planning’ on using or what your plan is for a subject.  The intuitive paining process is just that, an ever evolving process.  It is about being able to follow your inner promptings without any rational thought. 
Ok so now to get down and dirty in the process of intuitive painting.  Imagine for a moment that you are standing in front of a large blank white canvas.  This can be very intimidating.  Typically we experience quite a bit of anxiety facing the large blank canvas.  Where to begin? What color to use? What to paint?  In the intuitive painting process all of the questions should be freed.  You blank your mind, you put on some music, then you put an assortment of colors on a pallet (the only suggestion here is that you stay within the warm or the cool colors as to not create paint-mud.)  Once you have an assortment of either cool colors (blues, greens, teals, turquoise) or warm colors (red, orange, yellow), you close your eyes, and begin to move your body.  Allow the music to take over your movements.  Keeping your eyes closed allows you to really get into the flow and suspend rational judgment.  Allowing your fingers to dance around the canvas as you dip and dance your way around this blank white space of infinite possibilities.  This is truly an exercise in letting go.
Which brings me to the next topic, ‘LETTING GO’!  This is a large part of the intuitive painting process.  We must practice letting go of whatever it is that keeps our creativity and creative energy blocked.  Some of the thoughts that block us is our inner critic.  That inner voice that tells us, “you are not good enough”.  That critical inner voice can be very convincing.  It sounds like it is our friend, giving us permission to walk away, STOP before we mess it all up.  That inner voice is the culmination of a lifetime of being judged, and evaluated against a better someone or something.  But, in intuitive painting, that inner critic is not our friend.  We must see this critical voice as a misguided attempt at saving us from something dangerous.  Another thing to let go of is anxiety and fear.  Of course those emotions are a result of that inner critic and the fear of failing, but non-the-less, we need to release our anxieties and fears because they tighten our bodies.  Our muscles get ridged and our joints lock up.  This prevents us from allowing the creative energy flow through us, and the constant chatter of the inner critic prevents us from hearing the subtle and gentle guidance of our soul.
The next thing that needs to be addressed with regards to intuitive painting is TRUST! Yes, trust in ones self, trust in the process, trust that your inner wisdom, your spirit will guide the process of your painting, so you can step aside let the process unfold.  You will also need to trust that whatever color, line, image that emerges onto your canvas is prompted by an inner guidance, and that each and every mark you make or color you choose or image that presents itself to you will be the perfect and exact thing that your soul is communicating through.  During this process of letting go and trusting, you will develop an observing “I”.  YOU ~ the ego you, will be standing aside and observing and listening to all of the lessons of your soul.  So now we can see how this intuitive painting process is a very spiritual process.  In truth, during the process of intuitive painting, we are connecting with our soul and allowing that part of us to guide our process and teach us lessons of healing the growth during the painting process.  Just remember, if that critical voice emerges, simply put it aside by emptying your mind and taking a deep breath and getting back to the music and the paint.
Once you have gotten the hang of letting go and trusting the process, the next level of intuitive painting is to ALLOW.  This process of allowing helps us remain right in the moment.  This is a practice of mindfulness.  Allowing each and every moment to unfold ~ in the moment with no regard for the past or the future.  All that matter is the eternal now and what is happening one moment to the next.  Things to be aware of in the moment is; where is the music taking you; what messages are the colors and images bringing to you; how you feel in the moment; where are you blocked; how can you free your energy up so more creative energy can flow through you.  Allowing requires that you get out of your own way and let go ~ let God. 
When you are in the moment and allowing the process to happen without your need to control, you release any expectation for a particular outcome.  Releasing EXPECTATION is the next level of intuitive painting.  This is where we talk about the product.  Up until now we have been discussing the PROCESS of intuitive painting, now we will discuss the PRODUCT.  When we are tied to an expected outcome, then we are no longer in the moment.  We are now being driven by the inner critic and  expecting a particular outcome in the future.  If we have an agenda for the painting we have expectation.  How do you release expectation?  You are willing to be in the mystery. 
What does it mean to be in the MYSTERY?  When you are willing to be in the mystery, you are willing to allow what IS to BE and unfold without rational thought.  You are in constant wonder and amazement of what you are witnessing evolving before your eyes.  You are letting your emotions  flow through your body in color and form as you seemingly stand by and observe it happening.  When you can be in the mystery, you are always amazed by what emerges.  You are not afraid to let your soul speak to you through your painting process.  You allow the colors to tell you where to go next.  Essentially, you get into a dialog with color and line and shape and form, letting them tell you where to go next.
When all the elements of intuitive painting come together you find yourself wrapped in a magical process where it is just you, the music, the color and line and form all flowing through your body in a space of infinite possibilities.  You are co-creating with the Universe.  YOU are the tool by which your soul is expressing itself in the world through the process of painting. 
This is not something you will ever be taught in a traditional painting course.  Intuitive painting is a spiritual experience that will enrich your world and teach you lessons from your soul. 
So, find some great music; LET GO of fear and doubt; TRUST the process; ALLOW what will unfold naturally; get rid of EXPECTATION;  and be willing to be in the MYSTERY.  This is intuitive painting.

For some great Intuitive Painting Music please follow me on, @ Yvette McCue Lyons

Yvette Lyons, Ph.D.
Director of the Expressive Arts Therapy Dept.
San Diego University for Integrative Studies



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