Are You An Intuitive Artist?

Welcome back to my blogs.

What I mean by being an intuitive or self-guided artist is, do you paint from intuition or do you follow the art ‘rules’ that you learned in school. I do not talking mean proficiency with techniques because we must master these basics of successfully using our art materials. Each media has their own characteristics. What I am referring to is, do we start with a few shapes and let the painting tell us where to go intuitively? That is how we let the imagination guide our concept.

Great artists broke the rules much of the time. Matisse’s “Red Studio” is an example of rule breaking. Where are the light areas? He doesn’t have any! Rule breaking.

Other rule breakers were Picasso, Cezanne and Rothko. I do not have the space or time to explain each style but look them up for yourself, and you will see what I mean. We accept Cezanne’s work now because it is familiar to us but at the time he created his art, he was considered a radical. Picasso’s work was viewed as radical but now he is considered a brilliant master.

I do not have the intellect of Picasso. I am still working on that! Thus, how do I start a painting? I begin a vague idea in my mind of what I want to do. Basically, it is a theme of some sort. For example, I am working on a series that explores the Caribbean and Florida. I begin by laying down some large overlapping shapes, then I mix my colors to fit the mood of what I think will represent my theme. I try to surround those large shapes with deeper colors to bring them forward. About a third of the way through, more images or thoughts emerge and I work to refine them. My inner thought process of years of classical art will tell me when I am off track. I will get an impulse that something is just not right. It is like your computer back button, so I back up, scrape off or rinse off the part that annoys me and then repaint it. I sometimes need to put the painting away for another work session when I can look at it with a fresh eye. This critiquing will go on for several days when I will work to accent a part, define another or completely change a part. This is the point where I am striving for balance and unity, where it all fits together and is in harmony. I am painting by my intuition and giving my imagination free reign to explore.

This brings up the point of having several art works in process at a given time. By rotating my time to critique and refine, I get a fresh eye for it. It used to be my habit to work for hours, continuing until I worked through the difficulty. However, in doing so, I lost the freshness of my concept and the ability to critique objectively.

Rarely, I was in “the zone” and I kept going as my concept seemed to flow out of my brush. I once completed a painting in 4 hours and it won several best in shows. I wish I could say that this happened to me more than once. You will know if you are ‘in the zone’. Athletes can relate to this. They are so intent on their game that they do not even hear the roar of the crowd. Likewise, many artists will listen to music to occupy the left analytical thinking half of their brain while the creative right side plays with the paint, uninterrupted by other thoughts.

Slowly, I will begin to see my style emerge. Truthfully, there is no shortcut to finding your style. It is an individual thing, just like your hand writing. When you notice that your work seems to ‘go together’ if you were to hang them all on a wall, that is your style. Congratulations! You have achieved much and are on your way to produce notable art while being your own person. Therefore, find your niche and work at it until really becomes YOU. Paint, paint and paint. Let go. Do not strive with preconceived images of another artist’s work. All you will be doing is making copies of their art and that is not fair, because they have put in the hard work. It is tempting to use the internet image search and steal an idea. Creativity is hard work! Just let go and use your intuition. Enjoy the process and let it guide you. That is what intuitive painting is all about! Chow.