{N} The art of non-attachment: an introduction to intuitive painting

For me when painting, I’m most successful when I let all organized thought go; my eyes blur, and my pen goes. Whatever odd words pass through my mind I place on the page, where the edge of a paint stain looks like an eye or and arm or a mouth I let it become that, regardless of the logical nature of the form.” – Leslie A. Brown (Painter)

So, just what is intuitive painting?

Simply put, it is painting without an objective or final result in mind. It can be a powerful spiritual and creative practice. And it isn’t as easy as it may seem! After all, it can be really hard to quiet your analytical/judging mind, the one that questions your color choices, wants to know the outcome, and gets attached to doing things in a particular way.

I particularly love this explanation from Creative Juice Arts:

“Intuitive painting is the practice of meditating with a brush in your hand. As you release your attachment to judgment and planning and some future goal the practice allows you to open more to presence and spaciousness and self compassion. To the dreamtime and the invisible realms. To a deeper connection with the spark of spirit and your innate divine wisdom.”

How do you do it?

“With some exceptions all my paintings start with a surface full of random marks and gestures until it is completely filled. I step back and look until certain shapes emerge that I resonate with. Those initial marks that are now shapes and colors start tumbling around the picture plane while intuitively I am seeing and feeling what my unconscious wants to say. Most of the time it connects to what I am dealing with in my life I can never explain intellectually why a painting of mine works. If it ‘feels’ right, then it’s right and I know it on an intuitive level.”- Brenda Goodman

By letting go and listening to the quiet voice within. Choose colors that you are immediately drawn to. Make marks that you fell like making. Write down words. Draw symbols. And if you’re so called, cover up parts of the piece with gesso and start again.

There’s no end objective in sight – by that I mean, you don’t approach the painting wanting to paint birds. You just let your intuition guide you to the next step, and the next, until you know that you’re done.

There is no step-by-step process. No “technique” to painting intuitively. And yet, it can be “taught” – but that is a post, and perhaps a workshop, for a later date. Intuitive painting can be liberating and yet terrifying at the same time. But trust the process. As you layer paint and move it around the page, you’ll also find yourself working through a number of emotions that arise in response to what you’ve painted. Just observe them, keep following your intuition, and you will be able to work through them. How do I know this? Because I’ve experienced it!

Want to experiment with painting intuitively?

I’ll leave you with two short videos to get your creative juices flowing.

The first is a quick 1-minute walk-through of the development of my very first intuitive painting canvas {view in HD for best results}:

The second is from well-known intuitive painter Flora Bowley:

Put this lesson to work: Inspired? Then how about starting your own intuitive art journal page? Take your time developing your painting – I spent roughly 5 to 15 minutes every day for 18 days to complete the painting you saw above, so lack of time isn’t an excuse! I’d love to see your intuitive paintings, and if you want any help at any point, do leave me a comment and I’ll do my best to help you out!

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    • Yes Mary Lou, you can use any medium in art journal page. But just remember that water soluble medium (like watercolors) will reactivate when you layer over it. It can create some interesting effects, so give it a try!

  1. Shinjini I do a lot of doodling and sometimes it turns out to be a subconcious gesture. I think I could develop that into intuitive painting. Your video was mind-blowing. Not easy though you make it seem effortless! Bravo lady!

    • Oh yes, you certainly can develop that into intuitive painting!! I was lucky this time around – the images just showed up and demanded to be painted! And the things that showed up were things that I already knew how to draw and paint, otherwise it could have been much worse! 😉

    • I think that’s the best format to adopt with children! I believe we are all creative – but we sometimes lose belief in our abilities as adults because of all the times we’ve been told that we “can’t” paint. So let kids just have fun with paints! A little instruction here and there on color theory – more like guidance – is all that’s really needed at a young age, IMO.

  2. Hello, Google alerts brought me here. The quote above that you have attributed to me is not something I have ever said or written. Please check your source, thanks.

  3. Pingback: Beat stress with art: intuitive painting | Modern Gypsy

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