Intuitive Art and Committing to your Creativity

April 7th, 2009

intuitive art blue in red

Last night I attended the first of a series of Intuitive Painting classes I signed up for. Before the class started, I received an email from the teacher saying that the first class was going to be all about color. I laughed at the synchronicity of it, considering this month's theme for the Creative Every Day Challenge is color!

The first class was a feast for the senses. Each student was given a packet with a scent in it and then we were asked to create a color based on that scent. Mine was a yummy spice and the color I created was a warm reddish-brown. We all shared our colors and then used our color, along with the color of a classmate, to simply play with paint. I let my paint drip and run at first. We painted very quickly, so each of these pieces could be developed with further (all except the one directly below are 18"x24") or used as the beginning of a painting later on. The idea in moving quickly is to kick out the inner-judge and get painting, to try new things, to experiment. The first piece (below), created something that looked a bit like a face.

intuitive art face

In the next piece, we used the first two colors, plus one more. The result of that one is the first image in this post. It was fun to play, to splatter, spray, scrape, and smoosh paint and just see what happens. In the next piece, we added one more color, using something a little unusual for us. I don't use a lot of yellow, I tried adding that to the piece below.

intuitive art drips

We quickly moved on to the next, where the teacher encouraged us to paint with colors that we have a strong feeling for (like or dislike). I'm not a big fan of pink (I paint with it pretty rarely, so I just went nuts with the pink paint and added some yellow too.) As you can see, Emma especially liked that one.

intuitive art pink emma

It was a fun class and I'm looking forward to doing some more playing next week!

One thing that's great about signing up for a class like this, is that it gives you a set time each week, when rain or shine, you're going to honor your commitment to create. And yes, signing up and paying for it is helpful in getting me to actually show up at the specified time and place. How do you make commitments to your creativity? Here are some of the things I do:

*I participate in challenges (like the Creative Every Day Challenge) to help keep me focused.

*I get support (like my wonderful coach, Kathy who just started her own blog!).

*I take classes, online and in-person.

*I show up to create even when I'm not feeling inspired.

*I schedule time for creative projects I want to see fulfilled (literally picking days and times and putting them in my calendar!)

*I take time off to rest and re-fill the well. (We all have creative cycles.)

*I ask for help when I need it. (This one can be hard for me, but I'm working on it.)

*I find inspiration everywhere.

*I use a theme word for the year (Leap!) and keep it posted in front of my desk to remind me.

How do you commit to your creativity?

p.s. One of the reasons I started offering Art Picnic teleclasses was because I know that having a set time on your calendar to focus on creating is incredibly helpful in maintaining a creative practice. Want to make a date with your creativity? Join us on the 25th for the next Art Picnic workshop!

26 Responses

You are a model of creative inspiration and action, Leah!
I’ll be pointing my clients to your blog to read this list of things you do. Brilliant! thanks!

I have not committed to my creativity. I tend to let other things in my life take center stage. I wish I would stop doing that. I have a free day Friday. My first thought was wow I can create. Then other things jumped in, like my oven needs to be clean. Can you imagine! Yuk.

Hi Leah,

This is very neat. I’m glad you shared your first class experience because, when you said you were taking this class, I really couldn’t picture how it would work. Now I get it.

Committing to Creativity: I set aside Mon & Wed as studio days. Some days I work on orders, other days are for playing and experimenting. I’ve even moved my usual Wed hair appt to another day so I can honor my studio time. I’m also participating in more call for artist exhibits and try to have an art day with a couple of friends once a month.


Wow, Leah, that class looks like such fun ! I love that kind of thing. I know “intuitive” stuff makes some peole uncomfortable, but I tend to be more fearless when there is no set end result in mind.

Your committment to creativity is wonderful. I have made a committment to use my art journal at least three times a week. I have found that when I go more than a few days without taking time to create, I get really antsy and sometimes even resentful if other “to-do’s” take up my time.It has become an essential ritual in my life !

Happy Creating !

I took a class like this once. Mine was art therapy. It was all about just putting on paper what your feelings were with color or collage. We even did one week with modeling clay. It was so much fun!!

Oh woman, this is just so very, very fabulous.
I ADORE your words about this experience…
and your paintings are saturated with freshness and wonderfulness :)

Hi Leah, What a great post and what a fun class! Emma is pretty cute too. :)

Thanks for sharing your projects and your list of how you honor your creativity with us.

Hi Leah, I sat to the right of you at our class last night. Thank you for sharing your site with us. It’s so inspirational! I’m looking forward to taking time to explore the links and challenges. I could never have imagined just how much signing up for ‘one little painting class’ could bloom so exponentially for me. It’s a pleasure to meet you – in person and online. See you Monday! – Susan Green

More synchronicities! Not only the one about color, but also, for me, about using color intuitively, which is just what I am doing at the moment. It is a big departure for me to just take a paint brush, dip into some paint and just splash it on the page. I have been more used to planning ahead what I am doing, but am finding it necessary to start doing more intuitive painting, more explorations, and experimenting. It’s wonderful and I congratulate you for your efforts too, Leah! Thanks for all you share.

I wish I could schedule and be organized in my creative pursuits like you! Keeping mindful of your creative everyday challenge is what I start with and just go from there. I’m dedicated to my art, and am striving to enhance my intuitive inspiration so I can continually grow from within and not let outside influences steer me in the wrong direction.

I just did a big PINK painting and am starting another–I’m not much of a pink person either but the color is speaking to me lately!

I have committed to my creativity by going 30,000$ into debt to take art classes in college. Also, I’m a regular reader of your blog which is always creatively inspiring!

i am pretty religious about blogging to focus on my creativity. it helps me keep thinking about creating even if i don’t actually have an end product. i also get great feedback & encouragement (thanks!). i have a studio rented with friends & we try to get together every tuesday night to paint. even when we miss a few weeks it’s good to know we’re all there for each other & will get together again. we give and get ideas & feed on each other’s creative energy- even tho none of us do the same thing! CED, entering juried shows to have a goal and timeline for completing work, and showing with the group of artists that i do that with quarterly. all this and a day job! guess i should feel pretty good about how much time i am able to spend creating instead of feeling bad when i don’t!

The class sounds like an absolute treat!

Mmm… maybe I’ll ask Jim to pick me a smell to make a colour for… I like that idea… its the being given it for that purpose that seems an important part too.

I spent last night using a wood grainer tool in non-standard ways to manipulate paint… the most fun ones were doing “invisible” graining using white gesso on white paper and then when it was dry adding ink on top.

I love the idea of coming up with a color from scent! What a great idea. I’ll see if I can work up the nerve for intuitive painting…it would be hard for me to let go..I think I cut paper b/c I’m in control..or feel that way.

Leah, I love the pieces. Intuitive painting is the best. I start many of my paintings in total darkness and then let them incubate till they are ready to be picked up again. I have many challenges that I use in my workshops, they loosen us up and remove the fear. I love your blog and your work.
Hope I meet you one day so we can “play”.

OH! So much fun. Love to play along!!! Nice fun work! :-D

Nice fun PLAY!

i like your idea of committing to your creativity. i have to admit it is something i tend to leave at the end of my list and often gets pushes aside. i do have to make more of a committment to getting creative because it fuels the fire and makes me happy when i do find the time. maybe scheduling in time like you do might be just thing. i never thought of it that way. thanks for the lightbulb inspiration! xo awesome is this…nice job and thanks for sharing and posting. I really enjoy coming over here and reading your are such an inspiration to us all!

Dear Leah,

It’s so much fun to see your intuitive paintings and your sweet and purry kitty! And I loved the list you put together of what it takes to make a commitment to your creativity!

It’s so important to have a touchstone of intention to come back to over and over again to keep those creative fires burning brightly!

I so appreciate your wisdom and your passion for the creative life. You are, as always, an inspiration.

Hugs and love,

Lovely Leah,

I’m so glad you are taking that fantastic class. How inspiring. It’s very neat that you are always seeking out new ways to grow and stretch out your creative spirit. Thanks for inspiring so many of us to do the same. I am sooooo greatful to have stumbled across your site in January; it has been a true blessing and has helped move me to a whole new place/space in life.

Keep shining.


recently I decided to get a 0% card to buy the piece of equipment that I can’t purchase outright but can afford over the year to support my creativity. And am committed to paying it off in that time period…which shouldn’t be a problem (or I wouldn’t do it). Spending money on my art when money is tight if VERY difficult for me. I’m pushing ahead anyhow. Because my art and I are worth it!

Hallo Leah, What a fabulous set of ways for showing up!!! Including the whether you feel like it or not, that one is tough and so important, too. Thank you for showing your class paintings — they absolutely ooze fun.

This sounds, and looks, like to great fun! I LOVE intuitive painting myself.

This is how I’ve started many of my most fun & expressive paintings. I can have a “start” sitting around for months & then one day I want to paint. I’ll go through my starts and it just takes off. Other times I keep going on it from the very beginning.
The main difference between what you did & my process is that I’ve never used scent as inspiration. I think that would be an excellent exercise. As soon as I read that was what you did, I imagined a rich, spicy aroma when I looked at your red.
Thanks for sharing.

Sounds like a GREAT class!!

Leah! I sooooo ejoyed you sharing your experience with us. I can sense your delight in spontaneously following your intuition with splashing, dribbling and playing with COLOR. I’m curious to know who your teacher is?!?!

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