Making an about-face -- from relying on external affirmation to turning toward your own essential self -- is all it takes to know that the creative source is alive and well inside you.
An excerpt from Making the About-Face . . .
I received an email recently from a woman who had participated in her first online painting session with me -- in fact, it was her very first process painting session. And afterward she sent me this: "I was ambivalent about the session afterwards, wanting that dopamine hit of a beautiful end result. Then it dawned on me that I had been fighting my inner judge the whole session. Hooked on needing affirmation, I felt naked with my own creativity and I remembered that little girl who stopped drawing and tore up her paper in frustration because it didn't look right."
I thought this was great; it was such an insight and a perspective to bring after her first process painting session -- to recognize that need for that dopamine hit of external affirmation and the emptiness of that. And also how deeply encultured it is and embedded in our very upbringing where we're identified with the outcome of our activity, rather than the activity itself.
Then she went on to say, "This process painting is very powerful. The feeling of nowhere to hide, face-to-face with yourself alone, is indescribable and has to be experienced. I thought I understood the purpose of process painting and I did intellectually but now it's an embodied experience, miraculous and surprising."
I often say that to engage process painting is to make an about-face. It's an about-face from our addiction to external affirmation to something that is inherently much more satisfying, which is an internal affirmation.
To make the about-face, to actually turn toward yourself in this essential way that process painting invites you into, does require facing an internal emptiness. There's a tremendous emptiness and I might say a tremendous potential. It takes a certain dissatisfaction with the superficiality of all of the external affirmations that we're subjected to and expected to respond to that readies someone to make this about-face.
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