Process Painting & Presence: The Painting Experience

Process Painting & Presence: The Painting Experience


Painting is powerful because working with visual imagery, working with color, working with images, working with forms reaches a part of the psyche that words can’t touch. It’s been my favorite thing to do for the last five years, I guess, when I discovered it back in 2007. At the time my life was kind of going in different directions and I didn’t know which end was up, and I found the painting experience and I thought, “Well, we’ll see what this is about,” and it was really a great thing to find at that time because I wasn’t a person that really trusted myself very much and so this was a great way to stand in front of a blank piece of paper and not know what to do and start painting. I think the thing that really strikes me about this process is that it’s really an invitation to me to show up, to show up authentically, to show up with myself, to show up in the world and to really be as authentic as I can be, to really be as present as I can be. I guess I think of it more as like that personality level and what I love about the painting is that you get to have a direct experience of moving away from that and shifting in to this deeper aspect, this more essential aspect of of who we are — just being. There’s so much more going on in my experience than I’m usually aware of. As soon as I orient towards this discomfort that I’m feeling a lot happens, a lot comes to the surface — like maybe tears or anger or frustration — things that I on the surface didn’t think i was experiencing all the sudden are right there and it just shows me that if I can just pay attention to that and be more perceptive. It changed me on a lot of levels mostly it changed the notion in my head that painting and creativity had to look a certain way and be a certain way, you know, it had to be a product that you hang on the wall or it had to be a class that you take that has structure and a right way and a wrong way of doing it — and this was so freeing just to be able to paint whatever I wanted, and the best part was nobody could talk about the paintings. You couldn’t say, “I really like how you did that house,” or you know, “What’s that about?” There was no judgment. There’s no external pressure from Stewart or any of the other facilitators and that creates a container where it becomes really clear that the pressure that I’m feeling is my own, like anything that comes up and I’m feeling like, “It should be this or I wish it was that way” . . . I can no longer point to these external circumstances like, “Oh yeah, it’s my own stuff I need to work on.” That feels very powerful. And, you know, it’s not just about the painting it’s about remembering, “Oh yeah, I can trust. I can trust myself. I can trust what’s coming. I can trust that it’s all in its right place.” This is an alternative form of meditation. This is an alternative form of deep internal exploration. And it’s relatively unknown. Art has always been about the product. It’s never been about the internal exploration that a person goes through when they’re actually painting . . . what a person is experiencing and the transformations that occur and what the creative process is really about, and how that’s that’s actually a spiritual process. And I realized — a bell went off at this point — and I realized this has to be known. The world has to know about this

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