I have a sort of "workout" I do. I get some tempera paints and big cheap paper set up, put on some music and do some movement, and then I paint intuitively.
Actually, I really hate it. It is not artistic bliss. I usually hate the paintings that result from the process, I don't really like painting with tempera paints, and I don't like painting large.
Painting that way pisses me off. But here are five reasons why I do it anyway.
It forces a conversation with my inner critic.
And by conversation, I mean a dysfunctional one in which I ignore what the Critic is saying, or agree with it pathetically, or argue with it and feel angry and defensive. It's a confrontation that allows me to externalize the voice and be more objective about what it is saying.
It helps with my artistic identity.
Okay, this is a biggie.
When I paint something that doesn't feel like "me," that I don't love or feel proud of, it gives me a sense of direction. Why do I hate it? The materials? The colors? The content? The process?
More importantly, what do I not allow myself to do as an artist?
Let me repeat that:
What do I NOT allow myself to do as an artist?
It is an entry into a deeper connection with Source.
You'd think a connection with Source, whatever that is to you, would be all flowy and blissful. Man, it ain't. It's awkward. It brings up all my resistance. It brings up my cynicism and bitterness.
That is the only way to the gift, the treasure, the glimpse, the path, the guide. And I don't see that treasure when I am actually creating the intuitive painting. I see it later, after I have looked away from the image for a while, or have re-worked the symbol in other ways like drawing or writing. After I have finished all the internal debate about how I should be making art.
When I play with a symbol delivered to me through an intuitive painting, it evolves. I get to know it, what it represent in my life. The intuitive painting is just the beginning. The flow comes when I do this later work. Overtime, this practice opens up that deeper connection to Source.
This makes my art practice my spiritual practice.
It helps me appreciate my usual medium.
I hate painting with tempera. I have to put it everywhere, instead of it just flowing around like watercolors do. I also hate painting big - it takes longer and I have to look at what I have created longer and since I usually dislike it, painting big prolongs that uncomfortable confrontation with self doubt.
I love painting with inks and water colors because it is a dance. The ink and water color do their own thing, and create a beauty I don't have any control over. It is such a pleasure to work with, just watching the lines spread and spiral, the colors blend.
I enjoy that flowy fun more when I am redoing an image that first appeared in an intuitive tempera painting. I'm not sure why that is, but when I work with ink, and I know what image I am going to create, and I can have fun with the lack of control. When I don't have that clear image to work with, I just make a big mess. That's okay too.
Glitter and Sparkles!
When I paint with tempera, I always, ALWAYS allow myself to use glitter, metallic, fluorescent or any other fun paint colors. You can't take yourself too seriously if you are painting with hot pink and silver sparkles.
Of course, the real artist in me would never use such childish materials. But since I hate the intuitive painting process anyway, what do I have to loose?
Yay! Fairy dust!
Be Kind to Your Self
I know these five reasons don't make sense for all approaches to creativity, but I do hope you'll see that art making isn't always fun and relaxing, and it is definitely not always easy.
If you are a beginner artist, or in artistic recovery, be kind to yourself. Like any discipline, the rewards come with practice over time, and that means you have to make some crap.
And sometimes we can't see the beauty in what we've created because we are comparing ourselves to who knows what - some idea in our head.
Take care my beauties!