Intuitive art for self-discovery and transformation

I recently wrote a guest post for Rika Dehombreaux’s intuitive art blog, Glowing Roots about what intuition means to me.  Reading it back on Rika’s blog sparked the idea to write more deeply about the transformative potential of intuitive art.  So here are some thoughts on how my intuitive art practice has changed my life in positive ways,  and how it could work for you.

Processing difficult emotions.

GO INTO THE DARK WOODS by Tracy Algar
GO INTO THE DARK WOODS © Tracy Algar, mixed media on paper, 38 x 28 cms

When talking about an issue is very difficult because you can’t find the words, or the other person just doesn’t want to hear what you are saying, how do you process it at all?  If you don’t work through the difficult things you feel, you end up carrying them around with you forever, and they weigh you down and rob you of your best possible experience of life.

Painting has become my way of processing events and emotions that I can’t “resolve” in other ways.

Self-expression in colour & line

Many Faces by Tracy Algar
MANY FACES © Tracy Algar, acrylic paint, oil pastel and oil based pencil on stretched canvas, 30 x 30 cms.

In painting, I can express myself without fear.  I know that sounds contradictory to my idea that it’s completely normal to feel fear in the act of creating, so I will explain.  Beginning any new artwork or creative project carries an element of risk.  Our natural reaction to risk is to feel fear.  We grow when we face and push through our fears.  But once we are creating non-judgementally, working in a place of creative flow, the expression that we can produce in that attitude, is truth from our very souls.  It’s fearless expression.

Through my painting, I can express my feelings, fears, hopes and dreams.  I no longer walk around feeling like I’m carrying the world on my shoulders.  My cupboard has space in it for new things because I’ve cleared out the skeletons.

This has helped me discover hidden parts of myself, things I haven’t wanted to acknowledge or face.

Fire-eater by Tracy Algar
FIRE-EATER © Tracy Algar, mixed media on paper, 31 x 21 cms.

Coming to your painting practice with an openness to learn about yourself can reveal hidden treasures.  Sometimes they don’t look like treasures at first, but once you’ve wiped the dust off and held them up to the light, they’re the goods!  Here’s where you can find your pain-points and stare them in the face until you understand them a little more, and a little more.  Staying in the intuitive flow the answer or solution is also there, keep digging.  This can take many paintings.

Laying out a plan

StepThrough The Doorway by Tracy Algar
And this is Step Through the Doorway. Acrylic paint, oil pastel and oil based pencil on canvas. Size is 75 x 60 cms.

Need a plan?  This is about finding out what you want and acting on your desires.  I ask myself questions about what I want and then paint with abandon.  Sometimes these paintings remind me of maps.  They have a landscape and symbols and they take me on a journey along a path with a destination at the end of it.

Knowing yourself better boosts self-confidence

SHIFT by Tracy Algar
SHIFT ©2014 Tracy Algar, mixed media on paper. 29,7 x 21 cms.

As you express what you most want in the tangible format of an artwork it becomes real and you can see it.  You begin to know who you really are underneath all the social conditioning (people pleasing, being a ‘good’ girl, being seen but not heard) and it’s hard not to feel more confident once you make friends with yourself.

Setting intentions

FLOWERHEAD 7 by Tracy Algar
FLOWERHEAD 7 © Tracy Algar, mixed media on masonite board, 60 x 40 cms.

If I really, really want something but in my current view it’s out of reach, I paint it into existence.  The metaphor of a witches spell comes to mind often when I think about this.  With my body (the physical act of painting), mind (thinking about what I want to achieve) and soul (listening to prompts from my intuition) I set an intention with my painting.  By the time I have finished the expression of what I desire on the canvas, every part of me (body, mind and soul), is ready to jump at the opportunity when it comes along.  Before I began doing this, I was often not prepared for opportunities when they came along and turned them down from a place of fear and unpreparedness.

Telling your story to others.

THE BEST SEAGULL by Tracy Algar
THE BEST SEAGULL ©2016 Tracy Algar
acrylic paint, oil pastel and oil based pencil on watercolour paper

We benefit from telling our stories because it gives us space to express ourselves.  It can also benefit others by bringing encouragement and relief to those who feel alone in their struggles.  Telling our stories in words or in artworks is a way to reach out and show ourselves to the world.   It’s how to find soul-sisters and -brothers and make connections. Hearing other’s stories gives us a point of reference, a common thread. When we identify with each other’s stories it makes us more empathic and compassionate to one another.  This takes us into a mindset of cooperation rather than competition.  We can all learn from each other and help each other grow.

Essentially, an intuitive art practice can open channels within you and allow self-discovery and healing to take place.  It’s changed the way that I see the world and most definitely transformed me over the past seven years.

The top breakthrough moments on my journey so far:

Discovering that I am creative.

It was an epiphany to discover that there was this creative flow that was accessible to me and I could tap into it at any time.  Up until then, I hadn’t thought of myself as creative (even though other people told me I was) because when I tried to be creative it was such an uphill struggle.

Discovering my creative voice

My ideas about what art is and what you have to achieve to be an artist were not realistic.  I now know that anyone who wants to make art can, and that we all have a creative voice if we allow ourselves to create without judgement. Once I stopped trying to make art “as good as” other artists and comparing my work to theirs, I made art that was authentically mine and, surprise, surprise, it had something that my previous work didn’t have.  An energy!  A truth!  I had my own style without trying.

Losing myself in the bliss of creative flow

This was a surprise after how gruelling I found art to be at first, but it shouldn’t really have come as such a surprise to me as it did.  About a decade ago I spent every Sunday for three years meditating with a group of Zen Buddhists at Guildford University.  I was accustomed to experiencing that blissful, peaceful space of nothing and everything.  Painting or getting lost in other creative pursuits is also a meditation.  I can achieve that same nothing and everything space through painting without thinking about painting.

Discovering the power of creativity

Realising that creativity is a tool for personal discovery and transformation was like an unearthing of magical powers to me.  It empowers me to change what needs changing and to attract more of what I want into my life.

Creating intentionally and consciously daily

Making every choice count and carefully hand-crafting a life is how to make dreams come true.  Discover what your priorities are.  Find out what makes you tick and make your choices accordingly.  Create boundaries for your creative work and allow yourself the time and space to make discoveries.  Let creativity infuse every activity you participate in.  Make every part of your life a work of art.  That’s how you add purpose and meaning to a humdrum existence.

To conclude, I leave you with the visionary words of Dr Seuss: “Today you are you, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is youer than you.”

No matter where you are and what skills you have, you have everything you need to be creative and express yourself!  Start now!

Intuitive art for self-discovery & transformation

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