To introduce you to my intuitive art process, I’d like to take you on a short walk through the process of a painting.
I’m a self-taught artist, so the techniques I use are made up, experimental or accidental. It’s a very free way to make art, without the pressure of an intended outcome.
Technically, as an untrained artist I don’t know the “right” way to make art, so it follows that I can’t get it “wrong” either. There’s so much freedom in that.
I’m not a fan of perfection in any part of my life. I believe that imperfections reveals character and interest. To me, this is true of people, trees, and ART, and a whole lot of other things that I won’t bother listing now.
The painting below is called Mermaid Tears. It’s a 50 x 40cms intuitive mixed media painting on a stretched canvas from ETH Canvas.
A short walk through my process
I work with acrylic paint, a very forgiving and fast drying medium that suits the way I paint, and is non-toxic (and doesn’t involve toxic chemicals to clean the brushes, just good old soap and water).
I start my work with paint, various colours, either what’s already on my palette, or I choose a colour I’m feeling particularly attracted to at that moment.
The beginning of a painting is loose and free. The point is just to cover the white on the canvas, and play around with the colour. I like to mess around with my hands, chopsticks, brushes, trowels or a piece of cloth.
Once the first layer is down, I give the painting a break to allow the paint to dry. But because there are no rules, sometimes I just carry on with the next layer and let the colours mix on the canvas.
After the first few layers, and once there’s colour all over the canvas, I often see something in the painting that informs me of the direction that the painting would like to take. Sometimes I see a shape of someone or something there. At other times it’s just a feeling, rather than a seeing, that there is face or figure there that would like to be teased out of the colour and be born onto the canvas.
I use a Pitt oil-based pencil, oil pastel, paint or drawing ink to form lines around the shape I’ve seen or the face or figure that wants to be revealed. Sometimes it’s just a pair of eyes (or more than one pair) that I find peering out at me from the canvas. Sometimes I see the shadow of an ear, or a tail, or see some legs or wings that form the starting point of a figure in the painting.
Once the painting has its direction (or theme), it work within a process of adding and subtracting from the painting with paint and the other media I like to use. During this part I don’t think about what I am doing, but rather feel my way into the colour and line and symbols that reveal the complete story of the painting.
A painting lets me know when it is finished. The energetic balance of the painting feels right and the message is clear. If there’s a part of the painting that doesn’t feel right, I paint over it. If there’s only a tiny corner of what I’ve done that feels right, I keep that and paint over the rest. Sometimes that means working on the same piece for years, but in the case of the painting shown here, I finished it over the period of a few days.
I work on a number of paintings at any given time, rotating through them and spending as long as I feel I want to on each one. Sometimes 5 minutes, sometimes 1/2 an hour, eventually I finish them all.
My environment inspires me
Mermaid Tears is one of a number of mermaid paintings that I have painted since moving to the beautiful Overberg region of South Africa. It’s also called the Whale Coast, because it’s one of the best places in the world for land-based whale watching.
As you can imagine, whales feature prominently in local news and interests, and being in this environment has inspired me to paint more ocean themed work, and the mermaids that feature heavily in my internal symbolism.
What mermaids symbolise to me
I see mermaids as protectors and messengers of the oceans, from the depths of the seas and the depths of my soul. They bring messages to me in my paintings about the state of the oceans, and the state of my own watery depths. Mermaids remind me to care about the life in our seas, and the life in my soul. They remind me to go back into my deep places to find my sacred calling and intuitive gifts.
Would you like to learn more about intuitive art and try it for yourself?
I have put together a FREE ebook outlining the fundamentals of my process, what you’ll need to try it out for yourself, and a set of prompts to help you get started, follow through, and complete your artworks. Go here to download your copy.