Process Painting FAQs

Process painters at work in the Esalen painting studio.

What if I don’t have any artistic talent?

The Painting Experience starts from the premise that technique follows feeling — that if you have an inner connection to your work, then you also have the ability to express it.  The Painting Experience removes the strictures of talent, skill, accomplishment, interpretation, competition and awards, allowing you to trust in your unique and individual style.

Do I need previous art experience to attend a workshop?

Definitely not. People come to The Painting Experience with varying degrees of experience — someone who painted in grade school might be standing next to someone who works as a professional artist who is standing next to someone who has never touched a paint brush.  In this work, everyone is on the same level and participants are not compared to one another.

I feel blocked in my creative expression. Will The Painting Experience help?

One of the myths of art is that you have to feel inspired, have endless ideas or feel confident in order to create. But if you engage the process honestly, you will also experience your emptiness and your lack of inspiration at times. The Painting Experience supports you to enter these places courageously and to meet yourself there — where paradoxically, you discover your genuine passion.

What are the results of doing The Painting Experience?

Many people report that the discoveries made in The Painting Experience have strengthened their connection to the creative source, bringing about a life-changing and deeply satisfying personal realignment. The effects of this work tend to expand over time. That’s because you have dared to trust in your spontaneous nature and found it empowering and fun! Some of these discoveries include:

  • Realizing that you have an authentic creative voice that is inherently your own
  • Trusting in your immediate perception rather than your analytic thinking
  • Daring to ‘follow the energy’ rather than what looks good or what’s expected
  • Experiencing that your intuition is intelligent and provides access to deeper knowing
  • And for those who pursue the experience over time, discovering that process painting is a genuine path to spiritual exploration

Why do people repeat the workshop?

Often half or more of the participants in a workshop are returning. This speaks to the fact that process painting is not a technique, but rather a space that’s created for personal exploration — a tool for coming back home to oneself. The exploration is always new and fresh; it’s relevant because it’s going to meet you where you are right now.

Is The Painting Experience art therapy?

Our experience, having worked with and trained many art therapists, is that art therapy is defined by the therapist. Some art therapists work in a classical way in which the goal is to define, diagnose and solve particular issues. Others use the practice of art-making in a more process-oriented context that recognizes the value of creative expression itself over and above any conclusions or interpretations. In The Painting Experience, emphasis is placed solely upon the inner reality of the creative encounter. Not having a therapeutic goal in mind engages the intelligence of free expression and opens the space for discoveries that may be completely unexpected and surprising. And not narrowing the experience by placing the outcome into a known category leaves behind a flavor of mystery that beckons the painter toward more creativity. Here’s a blog posts that discusses this topic: Letting Creativity Support your Work as a Therapist  

Is process art therapeutic?

Absolutely. The intelligence inherent in free expression is the consummate teacher. Places that are unresolved will naturally reveal themselves with proper timing and appropriateness. By letting the feelings that arise guide the brush toward completion, a true resolution is reached that is both genuine and grounded. You may feel a sense of increased contact with yourself, and specific insights into your life may continue to unfold long after the experience.

What is the relationship between The Painting Experience and the work of Michele Cassou?

Stewart Cubley and Michele Cassou were married and worked together for nearly 20 years, from the mid-1970s until 1996. Together, they developed the principles of process painting that continue to serve as the foundation of The Painting Experience. These principles include:

  • trusting spontaneous expression and the undirected nature of painting for process
  • not interpreting or attaching narratives to the content that arises, and
  • the importance of carrying the painting to the end, of reaching true completion

The decades that Michele and Stewart shared and worked together were an incredibly rich time, and The Painting Experience is grateful for her brilliance and her inspiration.

Have any questions not covered above? Send us a message.

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