Tapping into Your Intuition through Art

May 5th, 2010

One of my favorite ways to tap into my intuition is through making art. There's something about the fact that it's non-verbal for me, which helps me to get in tune with the part of me that speaks in dream-like imagery and is more in touch with what's going on under the surface. When I'm creating in this way, I feel better able to go with the flow, to listen to and trust my inner guidance.

When I led the "Art from the Heart" workshop at wishstudio's wish*full Virtual art retreat last weekend, I taught tools that required letting go of control. Yikes! I have a little bit of control-freak in me at times, so letting go can be difficult. But I think that's another part of why creating intuitively is simultaneously scary and exciting.  And when I'm able to let go, that's when the images flow out, the choices seem to make themselves, and I can create from a deeper well within.

It makes me think of the lantern and lighthouse imagery I've used a lot, as I think these images are great metaphors for intuition. There's a light within each of us, always ready and willing to guide you, if you can tap into it.

Ways to tap into your Intuition while you create:

Get into your body: Ground yourself through meditation, movement, or simply a few deep breaths. Getting into your body helps you get out of your head and into a mode where you can make choices guided by your intuition.

Be Willing to Be Wrong: I think it's easy to doubt yourself when you first try creating from your intuition, so take the pressure off by being willing to be wrong, to make mistakes, to do it badly. Let go of expectation and let yourself play freely. It's a lot easier to be in a state of flow when you're not worried about doing it perfectly.

Don't Stop to Think: I like to move quickly when creating intuitively. I act on instinct before my talky-talky brain can get involved and cause me to doubt myself. Don't let your thinking brain get in on the action, at least not in the beginning. Give yourself some time to create without thought. After some time creating, you can step back and think about things. But having some time to create without judgment is a great thing!

Be Willing Not to Know: Often when I create intuitively, I have no idea where a piece is going. An image may start to appear and it may make no sense at all, logically. It can be a wild ride, not knowing where a piece is going (so much like life, yes?), but when I can let go and allow the story to unfold, interesting images come from it. Later on, while looking at these images, I find that they nearly always have messages for me about what's going on with me.

Step Back: After some time creating, I need to step away from the piece. Sometimes I put it across the room and stare at it for awhile. Other times, I put it across the room and work on other things, occasionally glancing up. Getting a little distance can often help you find what the next step is. Or it may let you know it's complete.

How do you let your intuition guide you as you create?

p.s. The image above is titled, Lighthouse. Prints are available here.

16 Responses

I am not sure I do. I think I might want to examine that.

I think we all have to let intuition guide us at times…when you can’t explain it and just do…just because! Thanks for the tips… I like the step back part…we need time to reflect!

How do you get started? I can see the process of creating intuitive when in the flow of it, but getting started seems to be the daunting task. So many choices… do you make the initial choices such as media, size, etc. intuitively or do you give yourself some initial bounds and then go?

Ah yes, getting “started”…that is the trick that eludes us all at times. BTW, I just love today’s art Leah. It is something that keeps revealing itself to you the more you look at it. I love the way you can get those layers in there so subtly so a viewer doesn’t even notice them at first glance and yet you feel compelled to keep looking and that’s when you see all that lies beneath the surface! You are one clever girl.

I put my hands in clay because then my Hamster gets off her wheel and goes exploring and I can move out of my head and into my body. For me, intuition is all about being present in the moment in my body with no head chatter and lots of feeling (and how can you NOT feel when your hands are in mushy, malleable clay?!)

What a beautiful piece, Leah. And thanks for the tips about how to work intuitively. I’m finding myself freezing up with pressure as I sit to try to let the flow come to me and through me. I sat on a bench over the weekend to draw “intuitively” and absolutely nothing immediately came to me. I felt panicky. Weird, huh? I felt like, OMG, I have no vision, nothing else to create, now what? I’m not an artist anymore. I’m weird, I know. I’m like you. I’m a control freakazoid. So letting go is hard for me. I’m going to try some of your tips this month and see what happens. [On my blog this week, I compared intuition to listening to your GPS even when it seems wrong.] :-)

Kat, that’s a good question! And truthfully, it varies. Sometimes I am restricted by the surface I choose. But I like to let my intuition guide my choice of medium and surface as well.

What’s helped me a lot in getting started is giving myself permission to make “bad” art. Once I let go of the expectation and pressure I’m feeling to perform, I can loosen up and get past that panicky feeling that Sandy is talking about.

It’s true, sometimes starting is the hardest part. So, if I allow myself to truly play, it’s easier to get going. And then once I’ve started, things move more easily.

I have to get past starting, so I just sit down and write whatever comes into my head. It can be the worst crap ever. Doesn’t matter. The idea is just letting it out. I worry about editing and cleaning up later. I think that you have to look past how to start or else you get stuck there.

This is from Natalie Goldberg’s book Writing Down the Bones. She’s talking about writing, but you can apply the basic principles to any medium:

These are the rules:

1) Keep your hand moving.

2) Don’t cross out.

3) Don’t worry about spelling, punctuation, or grammar.

4) Lose control.

5) Don’t think. Don’t get logical.

6) Go for the jugular.

Lovely piece!What I do?I always try to have a n idea in mind but change it immediately when I have glass in front of me.So these are my rules:
1)Start doing
2)Don’t stop till the end ( to stop my perfectionist side and to lose control)
3)Look at it when it’s ready to go to the kiln
4)Love the result without judging it
Greetings from Argentina

….this piece speaks to me…love the images that are surrounding her…

well, my senses are all a twitter today as my website has just launched and the months of hard work (using all of those senses and my whole creative being) have paid off. Thank you to everyone here…my very special touchstone buddies at CED for all the support you gave me along the way but most especially the two Leah’s that entered my creative life this past year and changed things forever…

Leah, this piece is beautiful! I love seeing the music notes and Mary and baby showing through. Very inspiring to see that it’s sold too. Thanks for sharing!

Captivating artistry – Beautiful work!

Dear Leah, I just wanted to let you know how very inspiring I find your artwork. Currently the “journey of life” and “warrior/hero in the world”-theme is an important one for me, and your pictures resonate strongly with that (at least for me). I put you on my wish list right away!
To answer your question about how we tap into our intuition: even though I don’t do it regularly, I’ve found that meditation is perfect for listening to that “voice within”… It helps me to stay grounded.

This is kind of how I work sometimes when fold forming metal. I talk about letting the metal tell me where it wants to go and just hammering away at a sheet of metal, but it’s just letting the work happen that makes magic sometimes. I can also have a hard time letting go of control, but as I’ve delved further into this technique, it’s become easier and easier to just go with the flow. And it can be so much fun, too!

The transparent layers are wonderful. It makes me say “Now how did she do that?”
Thank you

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