I am washing my brush at the sink when I notice that I have nearly as much paint on my hand as I do on my tiny 2-inch brush. I laugh. This is not new to me. Not only had I been painting less than 4 minutes but I was also not even properly painting. I was casually applying gesso to an already primed canvas. My cavalier approach had me disregard the need for an apron while I wore black to the white paint. I was lucky. Only managed to coat most of my right hand. More often than not, I find paint in the strangest places. I remember cleaning up after a marathon painting session and later noticing that I had gotten blue paint behind my left knee. The most unusual part was that I had been wearing jeans the whole time. How I transcended physics and permeated denim to get paint to the skin I do know now. I do know that painting does seem to transcend the space-time continuum, so that may explain somethings…
The idea that painting transcends time is not just an opinion it is well documented that there is a “zone” entered when an artist is fully engaged in the art-making process. Painting becomes an act of meditation.
In a recent article in the Washington Post, Maia Gambis writes that an art-making process is a form of mediation that not only aids in greater quality of life, but also helps with overwhelm and anxiety ( my favorites).
“Creating art is a type of meditation, an active training of the mind that increases awareness and emphasizes acceptance of feelings and thoughts without judgment and relaxation of body and mind… Similarly to meditation, art can help us tap into a deeper and quieter part of ourselves. We enter into a state of flow and present-moment awareness… All true artists, whether they know it or not, create from a place of no-mind, from inner stillness.”
Ok, how cool was that quote??!
When I first began teaching painting and meditation workshops I was actually curious as to why I had decided to pair these two. It wasn’t until I examined their similar effects that I understood why I was doing it. Often times, as an intuitive person, I will simply go with a feeling that something is the right choice before my logical mind shows up with a long list of how and whys attached to it. This was one of those times.
I realized, however, that during these workshops I was more interested in facilitating the experience of the meditation and the art creation process rather than teaching a technical lesson on how to re-create a painting. My desire is to give participants the space to explore their inner landscape and create an external expression of it. Whether they had the painterly alphabet was not important, what mattered was that they had in their hands, for the first time in a long time, colors, brushes, canvas and space to simply express themselves without judgement. They could release what was inside of them looking for a way to get free.
The look in their eyes when they had moved into the zone, the silence in the room and the extreme sigh of relief when they had accomplished this courageous artwork was intoxicating.
I look forward to creating these workshops with extra-large canvasses and give participants even more room to set free what they have held inside for too long. I can guarantee that when that happens, I won’t be the only one walking away with paint behind my knee.
How are you getting into your zone of creativity? I would love to know!
If you want to take a jump back into the pool of your art, head on over the Creative Jump Start Free Challenge. Ideas, inspiration and peace are waiting for you there.
Big Hug Great Creator – Stay Amazing!
Elizabeth Tuckwell is the founder of Art With Intention a site devoted to creative expression and personal peace. She is also an accomplished Abstract Artist and her work can be viewed at Elizabethtuckwell.com.
Also published on Medium.