I've never considered myself an artist. I had this idea in my mind of what art work "should" look like and my version of sketching didn't quite meet the criteria! When I thought of an artist creating "art"... my mind would go to Michelangelo, Picasso, Van Gogh....even Mr. Dressup! These folks were true artists and masters in their field in my mind!
Two years ago, my mom shared with me a new style of painting that she had been exploring. This unique style and artist, Flora Bowley, had been introduced to her by a dear friend...
Mom shared with me how therapeutic & liberating it was to paint freely on the canvas with no expectations of the outcome and she was really embracing the uncertainty of the painting process (yikes!).
She sent with me a link referred to this as "Brave Intuitive Painting". The artist's name was Flora Bowley. ( Spoiler Alert! ---> I'll be sharing the link at the end of my blog... :.)
Over the next few months, I honored my mom's courage as she embodied this new passion and leaned into the discomfort of learning something new (being a beginner can have it's challenges).
I remember thinking to myself... "wow....... the art she is creating is amazing!!....but I can't do that! I'm not artsy!"....and wen't along with my day...
Weeks went by and I did not pick up a paint brush. I didn't think that painting was "for me" and continued telling myself this story that was not the "artsy" type.
One Saturday morning, I was walking through Dollorama and stumbled upon the art & crafts section. I was feeling really drawn to certain colors... Navy, Burgundy, and Gold!...For those of you that know the this is no surprise!
I was curious as to what these colors would look like together on the canvas and decided to bring few tubes of paint home with me. Heck! What did I have to lose!. Thanks to Dollarama, investing in your first few paints and brushes is inexpensive (under $10!).
I started with:
A few tubes of acrylic paints
A set of brushes from Michaels
12"X18 " canvas
A white ceramic plate (from my kitchen!)
A drop cloth (for my dining room table!).
"I picked up the blank canvas and squeezed the paint into 3 "neat" little piles on my white dinner plate. Not having a clue on where to start, "how to" paint or what I was going to create! but one thing I did know...the possibilities were endless!
Taming the fear.
Looking back, I can now see and admit that one of the main reasons I didn't want to try painting was a deep rooted worry that I wouldn't be "good" at it ....perfectionist 101!
In the past, I've had a tendency of sticking to thing's I am good at vs. diving into the fear of the unknown (and accepting that I'll have to be a beginner!).
"I'm going to mess it up"
With the brave intuitive painting process, came a looming fear of ....screwing up the canvas.... I'd be working on a piece and really liking where the canvas was "going", ... but then comes the control and underlying fear that I will screw it up!
Well...good news! There are no mistakes when it comes to art... and luckily, it's just paint! If you don't like the color or shape you've drawn on the canvas, you can make it look like something completely different very easily (try white washing!)!
By busting through this old perfectionist mindset, I am empowered to explore all sorts of new things & projects these days! I recently tackled a new dip dry yarn project, refurbished a "shabby chic" table, took a beading course at a local crystal shop and created a website! These were all ideas that excited me... so I decided to just lean into it, with no expectations! What do I have to lose? I'm going to try something new and allow myself to be a beginner!
I'd love to say that all of my painting sessions are bright & shiny (you know...the ones w/ rainbow sparkly unicorns!) Fortunately (or unfortunately), what ever is happening in my life, will somehow make it's way onto the canvas and into my painting session.
With that comes a lot of joy, happiness, dance parties, finger paint sessions, frustration, anger - an array of emotions! I'll be very honest with you - there are moments that I on the brink of tears and want to throw my canvas across the room,...and other moments of ecstasy when I cannot wait for that fresh layer to dry so I can keep painting all that joy I'm feeling onto the canvas!
If I am trying to control something in my life, I will get to the canvas and inevitably, try to control the outcome of the painting. Funny how that works....
I've worked through some pretty "mucky" stuff on the canvas. As you may imagine, when you're working through the muck, the canvas can look pretty "dark".... Processing sadness or anger looks very different on canvas than moments of celebration and excitement. Whatever is going on in my life, I remind myself that it's ok to just "be" in that emotion and let it flow onto the canvas. Painting and being at my canvas helps me truly embody what I am "growing through" (as Flora would say).
After those first few painting sessions, I could not believe how happy I was just "being" at the canvas! It allowed me to get out of my own head and express myself through colors, shapes, textures and flow-y paints! It felt liberating to just let loose at the canvas and lean into the uncertainty of the paint. Being able to "let go" on the canvas felt like FREEDOM to me!
As somebody who was obsessed with having a structured/routine life, this was the style of painting that I needed! For starters, there are no rules ( & no mistakes). You are encouraged to put all of what you're feeling onto the canvas and to express yourself through painting lines, shapes, stamping (I've used a celery heart as a make-shift brush!).
You choose your pallet based on colors that you are "craving" (as Flora would say!). When the student is feeling "stuck", she encourages them to paint with their eyes closed , with their non-dominant hand or even better.... finger paint! It's really a process of getting back to that little kid inside you that just LOVED TO PLAY.
This type of painting is not only a new hobby for me but is extremely therapeutic! Brave Intuitive Painting has transformed my life in so many ways. I can translate the tools & concepts that I've learnt at the canvas and apply them to my daily life. I never imagined the art would have such a profound impact on the way that I view things in my life:
"Checking in" with myself - What do I need right now? What feels right? What is working/not working? Trust your intuition and check-in with yourself from time to time. You'll be surprised the answers you get, when you really listen...
Perspective - When I feel "stuck" at the canvas (meaning....not creative, feeling "blah"), I give it a 90 degree "flip"! And then it looks COMPLETELY different. All of a sudden, I don't feel so stuck and I have a burst of new inspiration staring at me through the canvas. Again this is a tool that I've transferred into my daily life. It's very easy to get stuck in a negative pattern. Trust me, I've been there and it can get darrrk! By taking a mid day break to take some deeps breathes or a 20 minute walk in nature... I can totally reset my mindset and shirt my perspective!
Letting go of control - In my experience painting, I've come to realize that I just can't control the outcome of the canvas, even if I try!, I've noticed that when i do try to control the outcome, the painting would just feel "blah" or "dull". I was trying to control the outcome and it took away the love & passion that I had been pouring into the project!
Expectations - By letting go of control, I am also learning to let go of the expectation of what it's supposed to look like. There's always going to be curve balls thrown at you, but it's how you decide to show up and "swing" at those curve balls that will really make the impact. I can either choose to get caught in a place of victim hood (whoa is meeeee) or adapt to the changes and lean into the discomfort of the unknown. Trusting and knowing that everything will be OK.
Staying curious- is there something you're intrigued by? A new hobby, a new city you'd like to explore, a new yoga practice that excites you? I encourage you to learn more about it, try it out and allow yourself the freedom of curiosity. By continually telling yourself that you "probably won't like this", you're taking away the opportunity to try something new out! In my instance, it was my the creative exploration of painting but it could be something completely different for you! Maybe salsa dancing is your thing! Or pottery! Does it bring you joy? ---> YES! Then keep doing it!
I also stopped saying that I wasn't an artist. I know.... some of you are seriously thinking "Ya. but I'm REALLY not at artist. " I get it! I've SO been there! This is also an old story and limiting belief that I was living & breathing every day.
Everybody is an Artist.
So the next time you stumble upon something (anything!) that excites you, I encourage you to just allow yourself to dabble into the unknown! Luckily, creativity and art can express itself in so many different ways (photography, cooking, baking, a new DIY project!). You get to decide! Get those creative juices flowing!
In closing, Iwant you to be clear that I am not exaggerating when I say that this Youtube link changed my life!
It has inspired me to:
Be a beginner.
Embrace the uncertainties of life.
(a.k.a. not "knowing" what it is going to look like)
+ Play more!
I had the honor of attending one of her workshops in Portland, Oregon this past summer with an stellar group of women (& Mom & Sister!). Not only is Flora an amazing artist, sheis a true gem!
To learn more on the "Brave Intuitive" process, please check out Flora Bowley's official website.
Pssst.....don't forget to check out this Youtube.... It seriously, changed my life :)
Photo Credit goes to the talented Zppy Lomax. Zippy honored our journey at the most recent studio sessions in Portland, Oregon. To view more of her work check out: