Over the last few days I have been working on a new painting which has ”something old and something new”….
I purchased Flora Bowley’s book called ”Intuitive Painting” a month ago and although I did not find a lot of new information (for me), I do recommend reading it if you want to paint but easily get stopped by unproductive thoughts (such as ”I’m not good at this”, ”this doesn’t look right”, “I don’t know what I’m doing”, “I don’t know where to start” and so on) or just let negative feelings stop you from even starting…
I can assure you, even the most established painters, also get doubts at some point, it’s just part of being human I guess! The solution is not to copy other artists’ work or give up altogether but to reconnect with the process of creating… This is what I always teach in my arty workshops but Flora explains it in more detail in her book 😉
So what do you need to do??
I’ll summarise in my own way and from my own experience:
First, you need to let go of the thoughts that are blocking you…
You can simply play your favourite music before starting (play it loud and sing along, it’s just near impossible to think negatively and sing along at the same time!) but I insist you chose something uplifting… no tearful violins or heart wrenching piano solos, or this is going to take you back to your negative thoughts 😉
Note: Of course, you can absolutely paint your sadness and dark feelings! I do not encourage you to ignore them, but to just to let them go, for now. I want you to first feel comfortable with ”letting go” so you can then reconnect with your sad feelings later (and paint them if you wish).
If singing isn’t your thing, you can also jump around, dance, go running or do anything that makes you feel good…
I like to grab my little dog and dance with him (not sure he likes it hahaha), sing at the top of my lungs (I can’t sing but I’m not planning on going on any ”so you think you can sing” kind of show) or just shake my booty to some Bollywood pop music (yes, I know that sounds interesting but there just something about Bollywood music that is just pure fun and joy!). The point is to feel good and free, at least for a little while.
Once you feel like you can do anything without feeling judged by others or yourself (you are painting for yourself, not anyone else!) and are ready to have fun then it’s time to start! I suggest you keep playing music you love in the background to continue with the good feelings, and make sure you have a little dance every now and then! If you don’t want to dance then at least move around often.
I like to stand at my easel when I paint (I never sit down unless I’m drawing or making jewellery) because I feel more free. I can put my entire body into the process instead of only moving my hands and arms when I sit.
Make sure you have plenty of paint around, fresh water, paintbrushes and your palette ready and starting! Paint whatever you feel like. It can simply be circles, patches of colours, long strokes of various thickness… use brushes, fingers and any object you find (the end of a paintbrush makes cool dots when dipped in paint). Do lines, squiggles, organic shapes, flowers, leaves, hearts, anything! The objective is to have fun and paint what YOU feel like without worrying of the final result. You can do several layers, cover what you don’t like, keep bits you really like and change things as much as you like.
Flora recommends turning your canvas around every 15 minutes (and using a timer if needed). I tried it and I agree it’s a great way to avoid getting stuck in one spot and it helps you get a fresh perspective every time you turn it 😉
It can be hard to know when to stop when you are having so much fun but I guess once you stand back and think ”there isn’t really anything I want to change now” then… it’s time to stop 🙂 Remember, it only has to please YOU.
Why ”something old and something new”?
Going back to my original thoughts, ”something old” refers to the process above which I have always followed instinctively… I feel that my painting developed the most (and connected with people) when I was creating large abstract paintings, mostly a few years ago. I have always painted for myself first and creating large patterns of swirling colours reflected my freedom and happiness. In the last 2-3 years, I have been focussing more on smaller pieces and painting more often on paper than canvas (mostly because I was running out of room and there was less demand for large canvasses) but… after reading Flora’s book and learning new skills (from trying different media, travelling and seeing inspiring work, moving…), things are changing!
And so…. “something new” refers to new large abstract work to come, to increased clarity, new possibilities ahead and a renewed desire to get back to those delightful feelings of surrender 😉
Here is a sneak peak close-up of my next large abstract painting:
Hope this post will help you… feel free to contact me if you have any questions, read Flora’s book or just find out more about her 😉
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