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Learning to paint intuitively

The longer you spend working as an artist, actively practising creating art and producing work, the more you grow. This is the same as any hobby or skill, and growth always comes from continuously working on that one thing with dedication and passion.

In this blog post, I want to share a bit about where I've been with my art, how my mindset has changed over the years and the way that change has affected how I create work now. This is something that I thought anyone who owns my art or is interested in my art business might like to know, as it gives a bit of background to everything I worked on so far, but also for anyone interested in creating their own art at home. It will include special bits of advice from other people's input, or from my own discoveries which really helped me to expand my horizons and make me a better artist.

This is how I paint "intuitively":

Intuitive painting means to create without conscious reasoning; instinctively. We have all heard of the phrase "follow your instincts" and it's the same idea with painting. It's a hard thing to master because we so often doubt our own intuition, worrying that it's wrong, especially when it seems to make no logical sense, but actually, if we are in tune with ourselves and our surroundings then our instincts are very often right. It's a battle between our present conscious mind that wants to make sense of things, using knowledge and reasoning to inform our decisions and our sub-conscious which draws from emotion and experiences, feelings and memories. When we paint intuitively shut down our conscious reasoning, and allow ourselves to express freely, without fear or failure or striving to create anything in particular.

This is the place where some of the most authentic work comes from, and you'll realise as an artist that you don't need to rely so heavily on your skillset to make something actually look good. The skills we build up over the years of practising will of course play a part, but they won't limit us or stop us from experimenting over and over again, allowing the mistakes to take the art in a new direction. We trust the process and expect a resolution.

Why is this something to aim for?

Intuitive painting is of course not the only way. There are many beautiful forms of artwork, for example, hyperrealism, that require careful planning and precise execution to create something breathtaking. I believe there is still an element of intuitiveness required, but maybe not essential.

I am addressing more to those who are looking to advance their creativity and confidence in painting, by finding their purest form of self-expression and allowing skills to be learnt along the way. Maybe inspiring people who don't paint because they feel they 'aren't good enough', to realise that there's more to it than skillset and outcome.

The reason why I am aiming for this, is because it forces you out of your comfort zone, allows you to experiment without fear of failure and ultimately you can't go wrong if you don't plan on what the end result will look like. This will only result in growth as an artist, as you will find new techniques, styles and colour palette's which will in turn, lead to more interesting, authentic artwork that has depth and layers on layers of exploration.

Selling intuitive paintings to collectors:

Those who are not painters themselves, can find the idea of intuitive painting a hard one to grasp and I completely understand. That was me years ago too. The thought of a seemingly thought-out, completed piece of work just had to have been planned and created in a controlled manner, to have the impact that it has. However, the most impactful work has come from a deep place, and the heart behind it can be felt. That's why it is important to paint with freedom and ease, because it will translate to the person looking at it. (That's not to say you won't ever struggle - you will. It's part of the journey, but what I mean is that it won't be tight. You won't continuously have been fighting to get the work 'back on track' to fit the vision in your mind.)

The big art scene is keen on artist's statements, loving detailed descriptions of exact techniques and reason's why. They like an artist who was consciously present for every step in the creation process, with solid reasons for every fleck and colour. I get it, for it's easier to sell a categorised artist, one they can write about and market to the perfect audience. It's also why we as artists can fall into the trap of painting the same type of thing for years and years, because it's easier to market ourselves and define who we are, when we always stick to what we know sells and the techniques that work.

If you feel you have got to the peak of your artistic journey and feel happy to remain there, then great. Just don't ever lose your creativity and curiosity in the name of business.

So how do I sell intuitive work to collectors? What if they ask about the techniques I used?

The selling point of work like this is not how, why or when it was created. It is not a political statement, or painted with intent. It is simply an expression of the heart, a moment inspired by our unique and rollercoaster lives which might well connect with someone else's. The emotional connection with the message, and the visual connection with the colours/subject/mark-making is what draws people to a painting.

If you paint intuitively as an artist, then explain the story. Explaining the story is different from simply explaining the process. The 'process' is based on facts, decisions and steps, (I put a line here to make sure it fits the golden ratio etc.) whereas a story is based on the curiosity that led you to use that particular colour, the frustration you felt that day which led you to chuck a massive blob of red onto the page which then inspired you to paint a tomato. See the difference?

So, how do I put this into practise?

I would love to go much more in depth about how we can put this into practise at some point - maybe do a little e-course or separate blog post (Let me know if this is something you would be interested in!)

For now my three tips to start would be:

  1. Let go and experiment. Don't plan. Pick up the first colour that captures your eye and start there. See what marks come out when you just go with the flow.

  2. Don't think. Feel. If you are energetic, then let that translate. Go big, colourful, extreme. If you are tired, let it be calming, slow, gentle.

  3. Never rush the process. My intuitive paintings have to look really really bad before they look good. The success for me, is when I push through that ugly spell and trust that it will come around and it always does. Don't expect to bash out something incredible in your first session.

This video above shows a short example of what an intuitive process looks like for me, and how random patterns early on inform the direction of the artwork.

I hope that this blog post inspires you to get in the studio and create, or maybe if your not an artist, that it gives you a bit of insight into how I create some of my favourite paintings.

I would love to hear your thoughts and opinions, so please leave a comment below!

Thanks for reading,


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