Intuitive Nightmare or Intuitive Fun?

Painting by the Seat of Your Pants.

I know plenty of artists simply love to do what is referred to as "intuitive painting." But that wasn't me. I had my first experience doing this about a year ago and I can truthfully say it was awful. And I cried even though i tried hard not to. 

 I did the painting above (bottom left)  with Ivy and Michelle based on a workshop Michelle had done with Jesse Reno. It was meant to be fun. Like a happy art party where you get paint all over your hands and clothes and you feel ecstatic and free as a result of the random application of marks, colors and patterns you were encouraged to use. I didn't realize it at the time but the "intuitive " part meant that in the end even if the thing was all crazy colors and what have you it was supposed to end up with some sort of compositional harmony and innate beauty.

I was a complete novice to this sort of art so when the timer went off my resulting piece was about 8 inches square on a 2x3 foot sheet of watercolor paper. (for emphasis please insert 3 emoji monkeys with hands over eyes, ears and mouth)  Michelle and Ivy filled their paper with all sorts of things and had "intuitive" fun. They were more experienced at selecting a cohesive color palette, arranging their elements in a balanced way....... (so on and so forth through the list of compositional elements)  and the result was they were filled with artistic joy and  they filled their 2x3 foot  piece of gorgeous watercolor paper with interesting art. 

The point of this failure Friday analysis is  to reconcile the conflict I impose upon myself when I forget to accept where I am at any given moment on my creative journey and wish I were somewhere else on the path. I will have far more courage if I surrender to my limitations and my strengths and not place a higher importance on either end. I am a student of art and an artist. Everything I create has that duality built into it. 

For the sake of comparison the painting above on the bottom right is one I did 2 days ago with Ivy following an intuitive mark making exercise from the class Drawn to Expression by Gillian Lee Smith. I was a bit anxious at the deliberately  vague instructions but I just did it anyway and it went way better than it had a year ago. I did not cry, I moaned very little and I even did the portrait over the top in  under 20 minutes when Ivy suggested we take it a step further. But the most Important success  was that I enjoyed myself. Very good! Growth accomplished and I could reflect back to that last intuitive experience and see how I had changed. :) big smiley face!

*** The top painting was another we did a year ago also inspired by Jesse Reno. At the time I was so unhappy with mine I rolled it up in a tight tube and stuck it under my bed where it has stayed for the entire year. I came upon this image of it while searching back in my phone and looked at it in wonder realizing it was just fine and that i could, if I wanted  take it our of hiding and enjoy completing it.

I have as much to learn about being human as I do about painting, drawing and art. It's all woven together and when I see it that way it is all more gratifying, challenging and exciting! 

Love, Robin


So Much Excitement Around Here!!

I have so many things I want to blog about that I can't figure out what to blog about!😏 If you  are new to my  blog...👉honestly everyone is since I just started it👈..... you should know that if emoticons are available on my keyboard I will use them to express my full range of emotions. So please, try not to be overly annoyed at this child like behavior. 

  If you haven't signed up for this class yet be sure to consider doing so. It is rich with content, wisdom and great teaching.

 If you haven't signed up for this class yet be sure to consider doing so. It is rich with content, wisdom and great teaching.

First up is that I am having a major creative breakthrough in my art practice thanks to the uber talented and most excellent of teachers Annie Hammon . I signed up for her Worshop  Creating Soulful Art With a Story just days before our own class, Paint & Pixels launched.  I had time to watch a total of two videos; Annie's intro (which I found endearing)  was equally amusing and  informative but her one on composition just stopped me in my tracks. By the time I finished I had so many feelings at once I had to jump up out of my chair and run around the block before I could think straight.😱 

In Annie's video about composition she describes  her  process for developing a painting with a soulful story which is very much like my own process. She uses an intuitive and open approach as she begins each new piece of art which is similar to how I do everything in my life including art. Annie knows there will be a story because she sees things in story form and from my viewpoint all of life is a story so I naturally paint in stories. Another similarity is that neither of us begins with a preconceived story in our minds. We have storytelling and soulfullness in common but we  approach our artful discoveries in significantly different ways.  

The concepts Annie is teaching are the very same concepts I use in my own art but with one crucial difference. Annie creates a framework for her piece before she begins. I haven't used a framework of any kind ever. My paintings follow a meandering and sometimes convoluted path of trial and error until a piece begins to speak to me. Only when the painting is complete will I discover the hidden story within. Magic is eventually created to be sure but the process is also very very time consuming and fraught with doubts, frustrations and many blind corners.

I truly feel I discovered  compositional gold within Annie's video! I am aware I've had the same information in my head but it sometimes takes a new perspective to see what is right in front of us. When I heard her talk about her ideas my brain just went all calm and the crazy tangled threads in my head relaxed and melted into a beautifully familiar brilliant red thread that led me to a fresh way of seeing and doing things.


Annie uses a collaging technique rather like the storyboarding approach used by creative writers and film makers.  She has a magnificent store of collage elements that are kept in notebooks. Hundreds of elements are neatly organized so that she can relax and focus on her compositional choices while listening to her intuitive heart. She  select her main subject, a symbolic creature or element will  be chosen, a background that feels right and the additional decorative elements such as patterns or forms become naturally incorporated as the story blooms into a painterly reality!

Above you can see how I did a bit of backwards engineering practicing Annie's approach with a painting I had already completed using my convoluted meandering approach. I pulled all the original elements onto my Procreate canvas and arranged them to see how the elements would have looked had I tried bringing them together ahead of time. I'm really excited to try this storyboarding technique in my next painting.  I'm know my heart  will continue to connect to  my paintings revealing their stories bit by bit just as we have in the past.

 I love that we are all a community of artists who love to share our secrets and gifts with one another! Each and every artist has their our unique artistic magic that no one else can replicate and when we can share our processes to help one another grow the whole world benefits from the glow of beauty and happiness in our hearts. Thank you Annie Hammon for sharing your soulful storytelling!

xo robin bird