Last weekend I took a painting workshop. I wouldn’t call myself an artist – not in the cultural sense of what being an artist means – producing a product of art – with “talent.”
Something unfolded that I want to share with you (it has to do with seahorses) because, my guess is, you’ve had this experience too.
When, as an adult, I first picked up a paintbrush years ago after not having done so since a child, I was petrified. The judgments were on full throttle – let em loose! “I can’t paint; this is stupid; other people do this, not me; I’m going to mess it up; I don’t know how to draw.”
But I stuck with it, and painted, and out came this beautiful sunflower. I didn’t know that’s what would come out – it just came out. In that moment, something shifted. A new sense of freedom unfolded, and ever since, I’ve allowed myself to do art. I decided give myself PERMISSION to BE in all shapes and forms – one step at a time.
Because of the power of this, I encourage art on retreats and working with clients 1-on-1. It breaks through not only beliefs about ourselves, but creates present moment awareness, peace, joy, compassion, and pure fun. It’s another form of meditation (only with lots of color!).
Back to the story of last weekend… There I was, quietly in my own world, feeling complete joy as I watched color take shape on the paper. I first walked over to the paint table and the brush wanted to go into the green paint, so it did. I walked back to the canvas and this big green brush stroke went from one corner to the other.
Then more green brushstrokes off of that. After some time it started to turn into an underwater landscape – sea weed with bright pink glow bugs floating around and a beautiful teal and pink sea water background. My body literally felt like it was in the sea, swaying back and forth with the water.
Then a thought came – “Seahorses would be great in this.” There was a small constriction in my gut and I went back to focus on the seaweed – with no seahorses.
I started to feel complete with the painting when Molly King, the workshop facilitator, came over to check on me. She kindly and wisely said, “Is there something you thought of painting on here, but didn’t?” I looked at her, and said nonchalantly (and with fear), “seahorses.”
In that moment, I realized what the thoughts were behind the constriction in my gut when I first thought about painting them, “You don’t know how to draw a seahorse, you’ll ruin the painting if you draw them.”
I could feel tears come up – a literal breaking of my own heart that I was denying something that wanted to come from me.
Molly said, “Let those seahorses come from you, because they want to be drawn.”
There’s the breakthrough moment, and a big part of what art can do in helping you (and me) get out of your own way.
The conditioning of the mind from decades of experiences is very sneaky, and can come out in many sneaky ways to prevent us from being a full expression of ourselves. But it doesn’t have to be so, and painting is one avenue to help break free of the conditioning.
The seahorses were born into the painting. It was freeing to put them on there – so freeing. There were 5 total and they ended up with smiles and a fancy necklace on each – just as they wanted to come out of me.
Thanks to Molly for creating a beautiful and compassionate space for each of us to find true freedom from old beliefs and fears to be our authentic self!
Interested in finding out more about the painting experience? Click here for Molly’s upcoming workshops in Bozeman, MT or click here for workshops offered around the U.S., and a great video on the painting experience.
Categories: Creativity, Heart Centered Living