Trusting the Process: Notes from an Intuitive Art Journaling Class
Dear Wonderful, Creative You:
I’ve been having the most wonderful spring, spending time with my students in the Diving Deep intuitive art journaling class. As often happens, I’m learning almost just as much as the students as I teach. I’m so excited to be able to share some of the Diving Deep process with you. Trusting the process is a big piece of the puzzle in intuitive painting, so I’d love to share with you about what that means for me, and show you how many transformations it sometimes takes before a page reaches its final iteration.
This piece started as an abstract watercolor page with pinholes.
I didn’t ultimately feel the page had reached its potential, and it’s in the Strathmore watercolor journal I like a lot, so I decided to use it to do a smoky background. I was quite pleased with the result, especially the light. However, I did not care for the mark on the left page, so this spread was a good candidate for further work.
Getting started can sometimes be hard. Where to start? This is a place where a lot of people get hung up, and never get started. I work on backgrounds all the time so that I always have something to start with.
I like to look at pictures I’ve collected and works in my own journals for inspiration. Starting with a background such as this one, and an inspiration photo or two helps give me a starting point. After looking at the mysterious, green background, and many ocean themed and pattern driven inspiration photos, I had a sense of wanting to paint cellular shapes in gold. Soon I added a circle of yellow, but I soon covered in teal, and started to really enjoy the colors that were developing before me.
Something seemed to be emerging near the bottom, and I thought it was some sort of nest or cocoon.
I added something that I thought might be eggs or berries, but they soon disappeared. Can you see how I let the process lead me rather than trying to be so in control of it? I try not to force anything too much. That beautiful green background was practically gone, but if I was going to work intuitively and trust the process, I had to be willing to let it go.
I wasn’t sure what I was seeing or where the piece was going. I think this not knowing stage is a place where a lot of people give into the anxiety of the unknown and give up. Sometimes they put the work away all together, and other times they settle for something trite and safe. There’s nothing wrong with that if it fills your soul. But if you are looking to dive into the depths of your inner landscapes, I find it usually takes a willingness to dig deeper.
Sitting with the anxiety of the unknown in our art has deep parallels to our lives. Not everything we feel is pretty. Not everything we experience happens on a liner path. Not all the outcomes are clear from day one. We can’t possibly know what’s going to happen, so we have to walk through our lives with a certain amount of faith in the process of putting one foot in front of the other.
To do that, we all have routines that help organize our lives. We trust our routines, they make us feel safer. It is the same with our art. My art routines help me tolerate the uncomfortableness of not knowing if my efforts will result in a piece I don’t like.
I think part of why the Diving Deep class is so powerful is that within an intimate, supportive group, artists have the chance to experiment with techniques, but also find the habits that help them trust the process and translate their intuitive voice onto the page.
After a lot of back and forth, looking, listening, and waiting, I ultimately realized that this piece was all about the enjoyment and celebration of color. This became a guiding force in each decision I made moving forward.
And despite this realization, I did get stuck again, but each time it happened, when I sat back, I’d return to looking, waiting, and listening, and the art reminded me of where I was going.
It’s funny how we need so many reminders about what matters, isn’t it? And with our art, it’s the same. It’s the process that matters. Art is about you taking time to listen deeply to yourself and the world around you. It’s about an exploration of what is, in all it’s color and depth.
Is IS all about the color. And the diving in. I hope you dive into your journal today. You can get some help getting started here.
*The links provided in this post are affiliate links. That means, at no extra cost to you, if you decide to click the link and purchase something, a small fee will go towards the work of Mindful Art Studio to empower the artist in all of us. Thank you!
Thank you Pamela!- XO Amy
So wonderful to understand at last the process and dialogue
Thank you so much for sharing your process
To me it is a birthing
Thanks so much for visiting and I’m thrilled that this process speaks to you. Also, if you are looking for a beginning intuitive art journaling class, you might really enjoy Art Journaling 101.
. XO Amy
Just happened upon this on Pinterest. I really like (love) your style. Relating life to art..what a concept. I love your background in this article. Is it spray inks?
Hi Tina! I’m so glad you found us! These are high flow acrylic paints from Golden. Since this article speaks to you, I have a free class that might speak to you called The Guide to Creative Self Care. I hope to see you around here in the Mindful Art Studio community. Cheers!
Very encouraging inspiration!
Hi Thelma! I’m so happy that you are finding it helpful. I can’t wait to see what you create! XO Amy
So beautiful!! Are these acrylics?
They blended so beautifully! I need so much practice… 😛
Thank you so kindly! They are high flow acrylics (affiliate link.) These paints are like a revolution in my life! They blend and flow and do so many fun things in journals and on mixed media paper. I teach a course on using them to make abstract art called Fluid Art- they are really fun to play with. If you decide to dive in, I hope you enjoy! I regularly do free workshops on fluid art and other playful art techniques. If you join my list you can sign up for the next one and join us. You can sign up here: http://mindfulartstudio.com/creative-self-care-e-course/ xo Amy
I am going to sign up! I’ve been looking for beginner lessons and can’t find any. This piece is stunning! I would frame it and hang it as it. It really is surreal when art takes over our mind and soul and does what it wants. You are extremely talented.
Oh gosh, I LOVE your enthusiasm! I too love when the art takes over – that for me is getting in the FLOW state. I would love to have you in the fall session of Diving Deep. Keep your eyes peeled for registration info in August. If you aren’t on my list already, that’s the best way to be sure you know before the spots fill up. https://mindfulartstudio.com/creative-self-care-e-course/
This is so beautiful… i can see so much in this. Thank you for sharing and the inspiration!
Thank you so much for taking the time to let me know I’ve reached you with my art, Celia, it really means so much to me. XO Amy
Celia, I believe I’m a very creative person – deep, deep down. So deep in fact, that I have a great problem in getting off the bottom of the pond!! Maybe its a result of others needing my attention that I have not had the luxury of uninterrupted time to actually focus, let the ideas begin and complete something before I have to walk away from it before I feel a sense of completion and real ownership. Oh well, step out with courage they say!!
Hi Susan! I’m so happy to have you here! Yes, sometimes our creativity can hide way down in there. We get such strong messages about being “productive” and not being “selfish” that we get the message that our creativity should take last priority. And it IS hard to find uninterrupted time. I think for me that’s part of what drives me to work small and in stages – it makes the work accessible.
I hope this helps a bit, Susan. I have a free class you might enjoy: https://mindfulartstudio.com/shop/beautifully-imperfect-art/ – It’s a great little workbook to help you identify and set aside perfectionistic ideas that stand between you and your beautiful, expressive art journal. You’ll get tips on lowering the pressure on yourself when you sit down to make art, and 3 fun project ideas to get you painting, drawing, and writing in your journal.
What a beautiful piece! How did you make the yellow circles–with a brush or paint marker? You have me inspired, thank you!
Thanks so much, Kandra! That’s all done with a liner brush and high flow paints. I’m thrilled I could inspire! Happy creating – xo