Painting Outside the Lines

It is time to reclaim that which every child knows and is taught to forget: the essential right to create without interference or shame.

In creative or spontaneous painting, the defining moment is when you face the fertile white void. Your openness and your courage to step into that void with the spirit of exploration are all that matter. The power of painting lies in the creative process itself, not in the resulting product.

Painting for Creative Process -- Not Product

Almost all traditional creative endeavors are concerned with producing “art.” The product of the creative action is put forth, subtly or not so subtly, as the final fruit of the creative experience. Creativity is equated with its results, and therefore must be justified by explanation, analysis, critical evaluation, and superimposed meaning.

The basic principle of The Painting Experience is that the creative process is enough. It is not only enough; it is a doorway into a direct experience of essential life force that is at the root of the urge to create art. It is the process itself -- the creative energy it releases, the new perceptions it brings, the deepened connection with oneself it fosters -- that is at the heart of the desire to paint. To make this the whole point of painting is a simple yet radical act.

The Painting Experience is the outcome of decades of intensive work with painting as process. It has grown out of many personal journeys into the creative process, including interactions with process painters as they vanquish creative blocks and discover in themselves the wonderful freedom to be found in painting.

The creative process unfolds naturally in an intuitive painting

Process Painting Allows Your Natural Creativity to Unfold

Painting for process creates a space where there is no compromise with the creative process. In a Painting Experience workshop, we place no importance on the finished product. We don't critique the paintings or interpret their commercial use in any way. The inner experience of creating is the touchstone for everything that happens. Once this groundwork is established, something deep within relaxes and the real, life-transforming work can begin.

Process painting is about unlearning. The tools to paint naturally are already within you; they need only a simplification, a clearing of the ground, to manifest. Play is one of the most basic and primitive elements of the human psyche, and ultimately art is simply a deep and essential play.

Our experience, after working with many different types of people, is that a hidden wave of passion lies just below the surface of most people’s lives. It is a passion yearning to be liberated from the paralyzing myths of talent, skill, inspiration, accomplishment, success and failure, and just plain “not being good enough.” Process painting is about daring to let that passion speak. It is time to throw off the shackles, to reclaim that which every child knows and is taught to forget: the essential right to create without interference or shame.

This post is adapted from the book Life, Paint and Passion: Reclaiming the Magic of Spontaneous Expression, co-authored by Stewart Cubley.

More News and Information 

In case you missed it, we have a new podcast available this week. It's about the importance of vulnerability in process painting and the ways that opening to our vulnerable, shaky feelings in the painting process can allow creativity and a new sense of aliveness to unfold. To give it a listen, visit our Podcasts page. 

And it's summer! Over the next couple of months, we've got workshops coming up at Breitenbush Hot Springs in Oregon, in Asheville, North Carolina, and on Vancouver Island in British Columbia. To find out about these workshops or other opportunities to participate in The Painting Experience, see our Programs page.

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