Process Painting FAQ’s

What Is Process Painting?

“Process painting” also referred to as intuitive painting is making the experience of painting more important than the outcome. The goal of process painting is the creative act itself, without concern for talent, skill or accomplishment. Process painting allows you to transcend the rules and go beyond who you thought you were, taking you on a journey of inspiration, growth and change.


What happens during a process painting workshop?

There is a short opening circle where people introduce themselves and the facilitator explains the basic rules for process painting. There is a yoga session instructed by a Licensed teacher. Then everyone goes into the painting room, puts on an apron, puts paint on a palette, picks out some brushes, and starts to paint. While you are painting, the facilitator will check in to see how things are going. After two + hours of painting, it is time to clean up and then share what you want about the experience in the closing circle.

What should I paint?

Anything you want! Just keep checking in with yourself and be ready to let things change and develop over time. If you don't know what to paint, just pick a color, paint a line and see what wants to come next. If you still aren't sure, check in with the facilitator.

Intuitive Painting vs. Process Painting

Intuitive painting and process painting are the same thing; they just use slightly different vocabulary to talk about how to access that intuitive, non-logical way of knowing. At an intuitive painting workshop, the facilitator might talk about "listening to your muse" and ask "what does the painting want you to do next?" while the process painting facilitator might tell you to "pay attention to your experience" and "notice what you are feeling". Both would encourage you to ignore your inner critic, take risks and experiment just to see what happens next.

Is Process Painting for You?

If you recognize yourself below, you might want to give process painting a try.

I know I am not creative or artistic but I wish I was.

It is more accurate to say, "I have been taught that I am not creative or artistic but I suspect that teaching is wrong." Everyone has creativity and intuition. The trick is to get judgement and logic out of the way. The more you do it, the easier it is. Skill is irrelevant to this process.

I know I have bottled up emotions that need a way to get out but I (can't / won't / am too scared) to talk about it or maybe don't even know what is inside the bottle.

Painting lets your emotions sneak onto the paper through color, line, image and symbol. This is a safe space where you can show your feelings on paper and not be expected to talk about it. Often people find that they feel better letting the feelings out onto the paper. Painting also helps you to move through feelings - emotions are constantly shifting and once one is recorded in paint, it can leaves space for the next one to come forward. If you feel overwhelmed, ask the facilitator for help.


Two + hours sound like a long time to be painting.

Most people find that one thing leads to the next in the painting so time passes quickly. If you get bored or stuck, it often means that you are either painting something that your judgement wants but your subconscious doesn't care about or you are avoiding something that your subconscious wants. The facilitator can help you figure this out. And if you do need a break, you are encouraged to take care of yourself and step out of the painting room if needed.

I don't know how to paint; I paint like a pre-schooler

That's perfect! Paint like a three-year-old and see what happens. Some people discover feelings of playfulness, freedom and joy. Others find it an opportunity to confront their inner critic, finding out what it is like to paint "badly" when no one else cares. Check out the gallery to get a sense of how very different painting styles each serve to express something of a painter's inner experience. Your painting won't look like any of the examples - it will be uniquely you.

Using Intuitive Painting to Be More Creative

Creativity gets shut down by judgement and criticism. "Good" and "bad" are judgments. If every idea has to be a good one, then the unusual, risky, creative ideas never has a chance. In a process or intuitive painting workshop we go to the opposite extreme. The end results don't matter so "good" and 'bad" are irrelevant. The goal is to tune into your experience and be listening to your intuition as you paint. Every idea gets to be realized on paper, nothing that your intuition wants to try is inhibited because your inner critic judges it badly. The results can be surprising, even wonderful. Even if you don't like the painting, it doesn't matter. The real value is in the process. By focusing on your own experience, you are learning how to check in with yourself. You are teaching yourself to hear the voice of your own intuition.

I am tired of being my own worst critic

In a process painting workshop, the most important rule is no one comments on anyone else's painting. That means that the only critical voice in the room is in your own head. You might not be able to make your inner critic be quiet but you can practice ignoring it and see what happens.

I am trying to figure out who I really am

Let the brush, guided by instinct and the subconscious, teach you about yourself.

It sounds good but I am afraid I will do it wrong.

Since it truly doesn't matter what the painting looks like, there is no way to do it wrong. The worst that can happen is that you paint something that you don't like. If your picture strikes you as "ugly" or "bad", this is an excellent opportunity for self-discovery, noticing how you come to terms with creating something that your inner critic doesn't like.


What are the basic rules?

1. Don't comment on other people's paintings

2. Be considerate of other painters.

3. Commit to the process

 Intuitive Painting

Intuition: a thing that one knows

from instinctive feeling rather than conscious reasoning.

 Intuitive painting is about allowing yourself to be guided by that non-verbal, non-logical part of your brain. This part holds real knowledge but sometimes it isn't very good at words. If we can quiet the logical, judgmental part of our brains, we can allow our intuition to make itself known in the language of color, line and image. In other words, paint.

Intuitive Painting Translates Into More Intuition in "Real Life"

Doing intuitive painting, the decisions seem trivial. Should the flower be red or purple? Does that blob want to be an octopus or a cave? If the decision were important, the logical, critical parts of the brain would want to stay in charge. However, this time the decisions don't seem to matter, so the intuitive, emotional responses get a chance to slip by the critical censor and be heard.

Repeat the process over and over with the dozens and dozens of tiny decisions that get made in a painting and gradually your brain is learning something new - how to hear your own intuition. Once you recognize the voice of your intuition, you will realize that it has been whispering to you all along. As you learn to trust your intuition to guide your painting, you will gradually when it is safe to trust it to guide you in other kinds of decision. It is exciting to discover how much more you know about the world when you can access both the intuitive and logical parts of your brain.

I have no time for myself. I am so busy taking care of others that I don't even know what I want.

A process panting workshop is three hours to do exactly what you want (with paint) with no responsibility for anyone else. If you don't know what you want, just pick up the brush and see what happens. Keep checking in with your intuition and go where it leads you without worrying about whether the answers are "right."

Will process painting really make me more intuitive/creative/nonjudgmental?

It might. Or it might not. But if those things are hard for you, paying attention to your process as you paint will certainly be an opportunity for self-discovery.


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