I'm standing in my studio, watching ten women painting in silence with exquisite focus and concentration, and the energy is just humming. All of a sudden I hear a groan from one of the women and the words "Oh no, I hate it. It's so ugly". I smile, feeling a sense of great relief and dread.
Relief because another woman has just blindly stumbled into her gateway to creative freedom. Dread because I know the resistance and arguments I am going to be coming up against as I try to talk her out of destroying what she deems ugly and to even to begin to take the radical step of accepting what she has created with curiosity and compassion. I have to be quick here because women are nothing if not stealthy and crafty and will waste little time in eradicating the evidence of what they consider unattractive art.
This is a class in what's known as intuitive painting or process painting. The purpose of this kind of painting is to learn to listen deeply to yourself and to then courageously express what you find,without censoring anything,in a spirit of spontaneity, surrendering to the creative process.It's very different from typical art classes where the primary focus is on developing technique and ending up with a pleasing product. This type of class uses art and painting as a way to get more in touch with the inner world of soul and psyche. The focus is exclusively on exploring and expressing that internal process.
This road is difficult for most women, because even though many of us have done some kind of self investigation and recognize the value inherent in that search, we are still fighting an uphill battle against a very strong cultural bias that teaches us to place the greatest value on what is outside of us. We are taught that feelings and an inner life are fine as far as they go, but what is truly worthwhile is how we look, what we own, who we know, and where we find ourselves on the economic and status hierarchy.
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