I had been reading lately about “intuitive painting” and wasn’t quite sure what it was, so I did what we all do nowadays, I googled it. I found a long list of artists who said that their artwork was intuitive but it seemed to me that maybe they had bad intuition because most of their work was not particularly good. One of the artists, Flora Bowley, has written a book about intuitive painting and, after watching her video, I became inspired.
My approach was to take myself completely away from the familiar. I started with a pristine white canvas, 36 inches square, a size I had never used. It was exciting to work that large but all that white was a bit intimidating. Starting with a brand new color to me–vat orange–added another charge. Without much thought, I took that tube of paint and squeezed a thick blob of orange onto that white expanse. The thrill of that move was like a kid who knew-just knew- that this was something not allowed, that I certainly would be punished for it! To compound my infraction, now that I had embarked on a trip of no return, I took a credit card and smeared that orange blob into place.
I continued painting with joy, in that timeless zone where the color, shapes and texture all take over. Each time I added another piece, it was in reaction to what I had done before. I painted 98% of that painting in one go with one small but critical area not resolved. Costing me hours of sleep as I tried to decide what to do with that central piece. Once I had left the zone of my timeless “intuition,” it was so difficult to capture the same aura to resolve the painting. I feel I have resolved it successfully and that it fits together seamlessly. Do you think I might have been better to stop after that “intuitive” session?
I posed the question of intuition and how it operates in our lives to a group of women at a dinner last week. There was a lot of discussion about making decisions based on “the gut” and whether this was really the full integration of a lifetime’s experience and education. I also strove to make a distinction between a gut reaction and true intuition. My friend, Coco, came up with what I think was the definitive distinction between intuition and listening to your gut. When you respond to your gut, that is responding to external stimulus. In trusting your intuition, you are following an internal instinct.
These definitions made the most sense to me. I am unsure, however, whether my painting came from my gut or my intuition. I’m not sure it matters.
What do you think–gut or intuition, or something else?