Intuitive Painting Process Explained: A Process Life

Intuitive Painting Process Explained: A Process Life


Welcome to the painting experience
podcast for April 2015. On the podcast, founder Stewart Cubley explores the
potential of the emerging field of process arts and shares inspiration from
his ongoing workshops and retreats. In this episode, returning from leading a
10-day painting intensive, Stewart talks about the ways process painting awakens
a creative momentum that becomes available in all aspects of our daily
lives. [Stewart:} I’ve just returned from my annual 10-day workshop on the island of Molokai
in Hawaii and I must say there’s something about the experience of
painting for 10 days that is really quite impactful for people. And we have
an email circle after people return as a way of staying in contact and
integrating back into so-called “normal life” after the long painting time
together and I received an email recently from one of the participants
and in it she used the phrase “being urged to” in quotes “embrace this process
life into all areas of me.” And I was really struck by that because this is
really my experience of process art and is really the bigger picture behind the
experience itself, because on one hand process painting is about painting, it’s
about the practice of painting, but on the other hand it’s it’s a metaphor
and it’s it’s pointing at something quite a bit larger than painting itself.
It’s really pointing at a way of being and the painting is really a
practice of this way of being. And I think when she mentioned about “embracing this process life into all areas of me” I just felt she was referring to this
larger dimension that exists in the painting process, because when you
paint with a group of people in process you are painting in silence and you are
painting quite a few hours a day and in this particular instance for many days
in a row and there’s a quality of openness and there’s a quality of
acceptance that’s built in to the group experience in which no one has to
explain themselves, no one has to be anything other than what they are at the
moment, and there’s an encouragement to just be very fully with your own
experience and to allow that in the seamless interface between your inner
and your outer life. And what I mean by that is when you’re painting for process
you’re paying attention to the serendipity that occurs on the painting
but you’re also paying attention to the serendipity that occurs internally in
terms of your feelings because you really don’t know what you’re going to
be feeling prior to feeling it, just as you don’t know what’s going to appear on
the painting prior to painting it, and so there’s a practice of letting go into
that, of becoming more comfortable with that quality of not knowing and
therefore allowing the serendipity, allowing yourself to move into the space
without having an agenda and without having to determine ahead of time what
it is you’re going to do or experience as well as what you’re going to feel. And
there’s a very beautiful interface and kind of dance that occurs between the
two after a number of days of painting for process, in which you really see that
it’s really one process happening — there’s not two. It seems like there are two sides
but feelings arise within you, they move with color and form onto the
paper, what appears on the painting moves back into you and elicits new
feelings and new ideas and new imaginative imagery and forms and color
and that then goes back towards the painting. It appears on the painting but
it appears in a way that you didn’t expect it and again it surprises you and
requires you to surrender to that appearance and then that opens up new
feelings and there’s this kind of dance, there’s this wonderful beautiful dance
back and forth between the so-called “inner life” and so-called “outer life.” And
I think this is what the metaphor of process art points towards — so when
people come back from ten days of painting or even a shorter workshop this
question is lying there, this question is confronting you . . . it’s like, what does it
mean to bring this way of being back into my life? And maybe that’s not really
aptly characterized because it’s not as though you bring it back, you have lived
it in the experience and you’ve awakened something through doing that. I guess the
real question is is that awakening available to you in our lives which have
become so incredibly busy and so incredibly non-stop? Is there a deep
memory, is there a cellular memory of that way of being in which there’s this
simplicity of, first of all, not knowing but being open to the serendipity, being
open to the unexpected and then of course trusting that being willing to
say “yes” to that rather than “no” because our first impulse often is to say “no” and
then saying “yes” to that, then moving with that allowing that to appear. When you’re
painting, it appears on the page. When you’re living, how does it appear? What
does it mean to say “yes” to it and let it appear? And then what does it mean, after having let it appear, in whatever way that it does, to let that engage you and
to further your own process, and to bring new feelings. So this is really a much
bigger question and I might say that it’s not without struggle and I think
this is one of the . . . another one of the important lessons that come out of a
prolonged period of painting is that, you know, you might go to Hawaii, especially,
thinking okay I’m going to be painting for ten days in paradise. It’s going to
be bliss, I’m going to be I’m going to be just in ecstasy for the whole time that
I’m there. And of course that doesn’t happen you know we tend to bring some
unwanted baggage along with us. We pack a little too heavily, you might
say, and things arise that our challenging and sometimes actually
crisis-producing — and I really value those moments I know that those are
inherent in the creative process itself and those are considered in the same
light as anything else that appears as a person is painting: When there is
struggle, what does it mean to engage that? What does it mean to engage the
process of struggle or difficulty or of blockage? And one of the beautiful
lessons that comes out of this is that through the very act of engagement a
door opens. And you find yourself continually moving. You’re not going to
stay stuck in one place if you’re being willing to be present fully with where
you are and not turn away from it, then it moves and the life is really in
that engagement and presence and movement. It’s not in producing a
particular outcome. It’s not in having it look a particular way and it’s not about
having a particular feeling. It’s embracing fully where you are. So this is
important because in our daily living these challenging moments, and moments of
struggle, arise and . . . to have the sense that they are not separate from our own
creative process. They are the creative process.
And being willing to engage them in life much as you would in painting, but then
there’s the possibility of really translating process arts into process
living, you might say. That is a very real possibility and it’s not something you
achieve. It’s an ongoing discovery. It creates a situation in which you realize,
“There’s nothing I have to be afraid of.” I don’t have to be afraid of this
particular kind of experience. I don’t have to be afraid of this particular
color. If it’s dark, if I’m painting something dark, and it’s getting heavy
and it’s maybe even getting sad, I can engage that fully. I’m not . . . I don’t have
to be afraid of that because I know that it’s the living of it fully is where the
satisfaction is and that if I live it fully it’s going to move and it’s going
to change and this becomes cellular in a certain sense through doing the painting
process. This becomes more familiar to us. It becomes more available to us. It
becomes kind of an awakening in which we realize “Oh yes, right, I forgot I don’t
have to reject this, let me get interested in this, let me see where this
wants to go, what new doors might this open?” [Announcer:] You can learn more about The Painting
Experience and find a list of upcoming process painting workshops by visiting
our website at www.processarts.com. The theme music for this podcast comes
from Stephen Jacob. We thank you for listening and hope you’ll join us again
soon.

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