I use a lot of tools when I paint. Brushes, canvases, paints and palettes. But my absolute favorite tool in my painting tool bag is my intuition.
Painting is a great place to practice playing with intuition. When I begin to paint, I am constantly asking myself questions, like “what does my composition want to look like? What colors need to be used?” The answers to those questions naturally arise from an intuitive place. The more and more that I engage with the painting process, the more easily and quickly the answers arrive.
In one of my newest pieces, I wanted to create a strong, bold piece that addressed the theme of rising up from the strength within, from that place of steadiness within your center. I’ve been thinking a lot about how to access that in my own life, so I wanted to create a piece that explored this idea.
The pose that helps me embody the feeling of rising up out of my own strength is tree pose, where you are both rooted and at the same time expanding out. As I started to draw it, I discovered that a more close up version of the pose was asking to come out of the painting.
I also felt that the piece needed to have a mudra, a hand position, with one hand at the heart to represent the idea that that the strength comes from the heart, from the center and the other hand, reaching up and out.
This was the kind of information that started coming up as I was working on this piece. My intuitive voice spoke to me as I worked, guiding me through the creation of the painting.
The interesting thing about painting is that it is a fairly low risk way of working with the intuitive messages that arise. The worse that can happen is that you create something, make a mark or use a color in the way your intuition is telling you to and it doesn’t look good.
For example, at one point while I was painting "Awake", my intuitive voice dropped to say “it needs some green.” Okay cool, I put some blobs of green in there and that felt right. I listen in to what wants to come through and trust that, put it down and see what happens. Sometimes you put something down and it isn’t right and that’s no big deal, just cover it up.
When I can allow myself to work this way, the painting becomes a collaboration between me and my intuition.
When you can trust what you are being told, what is coming through you, the painting process becomes really exciting.
What it means to be Awake
I named this painting “Awake” because as I was creating it, it became clear to me that because I had drawn the figure so up close, she really needed to have a face with features.
At first, I painted her with her eyes closed, but it didn’t feel right, which I took as a message that she needed to have her eyes open, she needed to be awake. I repainted it with her eyes open, awake.
When I was younger I used to love draw faces. In high school and college, I would fill the corners of my notebooks with eyes and faces. I was fascinated with drawing eyes because when I was drawing them, a soul appeared on the page that was not me. There is that saying that eyes are the windows to the soul and there is something really cool about bringing a figure to life and giving her a soul in that way.
What I have learned about listening to my inner voice
I’m learning more and more to trust what I hear, trust what arises, trust what I feel. I’m learning to trust the messages that appear in imagery, especially if I see that image or symbol repeated over and over again in lots of places. I’m learning to pay attention to the messages, symbols and imagery instead of writing them off as nothing.
What I’m discovering is that our intuition is really accessible, it’s right there for you. It doesn’t have to be about some major thing. This inner voice, this part of you that knows, really does know. My biggest learning curve has been that the inner voice is worth trusting, trusting that when I get a message, it’s actually something.
Painting is a way to begin to trust the inner voice.
When I hear those inner messages about what needs to go where, what colors need to be expressed, what movement needs to be expressed, what shapes need to appear, all of that is coming from that intuitive place. And it becomes really fun when I can let go of the self critique, the self judgement and instead, play. When I take the pedal off the self-negative talk and instead allow it to be this process of play between me and my intuition.
Messages from Imagery
Marion Woodman has this beautiful idea that says, “Images have energy, they have power. That they come through to help you re-remember your wholeness.”
I love that idea that the images themselves that come through in the painting process can carry messages of healing and wisdom for us. The message that came up for me as I worked with this painting, Awake, was this:
Everything we need is within and we are so much more powerful than we even know.
We’ve got this incredible source of power within us and we no longer need to look outside of ourselves for the validation of our own power.
The figure in this painting is fierce about wanting us to know this about ourselves. We have to know this about ourselves, she’s awake and ready to tell us, to wake us up when we forget.