An intuitive voice

Intuition plays a big part in my painting. Often when I paint, I don’t plan the composition in advance; I jump in, start, and listen for cues along the way. I observe what’s around me and respond, trying not to overthink.

My intuition even lets me know when a painting is finished – or at least when I should take a break.

This signal comes in the form of a fluttery butterfly feeling in the part of my body that I now know is the sacral chakra. Only this morning did I identify it as this. Until now, I haven’t tried to describe it. As someone with an overthinking brain, this signal is a welcome change. It doesn’t send words, it sends feelings in my body. It’s a fleeting feeling that can be easy to miss if I am not paying attention.

At odds with the inner critics

It does not always come at a convenient time, nor do all parts of me always understand or agree. Sometimes I get this feeling when I am not long into a painting, so my inner critic will chime in to say, “This painting cannot possibly be finished. You haven’t worked on it long enough.”

And sometimes the analytical part of my brain will point out drawing errors or other things not fully resolved in the painting. I sometimes wonder if this feeling is nothing more than my body’s way of telling me that I am tired, or that my focus has waned (also good reasons to stop painting).

I can’t say for sure, but what I do know is that this intuition knows something that the other parts of me don’t always understand. And I’ve learned from experience that if I ignore this feeling, I end up overworking a painting and ruining what I may have had.

First memory

The first time I remember getting this intuitive hit was with this painting that I called “turnaround:”

jar on table with blue background

I had been in the studio working on another painting, and I turned around and saw this motif that I felt compelled to paint. In hindsight, I’m sure I was attracted by the color and the arrangement of values, but at the time, I didn’t think about it. I jumped in and started.

After working for about an hour, I felt a fluttery feeling in my gut. I somehow knew it meant that something about what I was doing was “right,” and so I stopped. I didn’t know quite what to make of this painting – it was somewhat different than what I had done before. Even when I look at it now, I see things I could adjust or that may not be quite right. But I also see something fleeting that I captured and that I would have ruined had I not listened to my intuition and stopped.

Can you follow it?

Intuition is difficult to write about, let alone to identify and follow. I’m still exploring myself, trying to understand it. But I’ve learned to follow it without questioning it too much (or at least to try).

Best wishes and thanks for reading.


2 thoughts on “An intuitive voice

  1. “….I’ve surrendered the illusion of controlling the evolution of my work. There are very specific sequences of process that are applied to the paintings to bring them into being, evolving color progressions and textural applications that build the physical presence of the piece. I find that through years of refining this process, if I invite surrender to the unknown early in the works evolution, then that surrender strengthens the final underpinnings of the piece. The evocative power of the work is somehow strengthened as my intent for the work is subsumed in its creation.”

    This is the path i have walked for 40 years in the studio.

    1. Hi Micheal – I think “surrender” is the key word. Thank you for adding your insight – it’s of great interest to me. I’m glad to have finally met you and had a chance to learn more about your work and your process. I was hesitant to use the word “intuitive,” yet I think it fits. It doesn’t always make sense; it doesn’t always take me where I expect. But I find that when I surrender to it, the process is much more joyful. I’m happy to hear that you’ve stayed true to your path for so long. It can be a challenge, when there are so many other influences pulling at us. At least I feel that way.

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