Every time I go to Ghost Ranch, I am drawn to paint the view outside the studio. Whenever I try, I run into the limits of my ability - I don't have the skill to make it look the way I want. Last week, after finishing a very intense painting, I was drawn to try again. Instead of trying to paint the view, I just tried to paint how I felt in the moment looking at the view. The result doesn't look much like the hills but it was still most satisfying of all my efforts to paint the high desert.
Last month I went to a week-long painting retreat at the Ghost Ranch in Abiquu, New Mexico with Chris Zydel. One thing I noticed at the retreat was how different it was to do process painting surrounding by other painters, compared to painting at home.
At a painting retreat, I am there to paint. I know perfectly well that boredom means that I've touch with my inner experience. Still, when I get bored at home, I usually wander off to get a snack or check my email. At a retreat, there is nowhere else to go. If I stay with the painting and confront the resistance, the energy comes back. The result: less snacking and more profound paintings.
At the retreat, I have another person serve as my facilitator. I am a fully trained facitlitator. I already know all the questions. Yet, there is something in the interaction with another person that gives me inspiration, insight and energy.
Painting in community also changes the energy. Even though no one is talking, the room becomes charged with a intense energy that inspires me to go deeper.
Finally, watching others paint opens up possibilities. At my very first workshop at Ghost Ranch, I was astonished by other people's paintings. While I worked to fill a single 2' x 3' sheet of paper, other people had paintings that sprawled across as many as a dozen sheets. People were using paint in surprising ways - using their hands, throwing paint with their brushes, squeezing glitter glue right onto the paper. There were images ranging from monsters to birds to naked lovers. From watching the others, I knew that whatever I wanted to do, it would be ok.
Process painting is such a magical experience that I want to share. My invitation to you: Paint. Play. Discover.