Yesterday I was painting and about 30 minutes in I got stuck. Sometimes when I don’t know what to do I try to think through the possibilities. I try to rationalize the next best move and work out in my mind why this possible decision would work or not.
The conversation in my head goes something like this…
“If I paint this red circle in the middle right now it will make the painting look too much like a bulls eye. If I make it a square it will be too shapey, but if I paint it green then maybe it won’t notice too much but then I already have 3 other squares and do I want this painting to be about squares? If I do this might it possibly look a little too much like that artist’s work I saw last night that paints mostly squares? Is this why I am choosing squares? Well maybe I should paint a squiggly thing instead? But I never do squiggly things. That is not really me. Or is it? Maybe a small light colored one in the corner to try it out? But that seems kind of hesitant. Shouldn’t I be bold?”
Just from writing this tiny strand of dialogue I am instantly reminded of how it feels to be stuck and out of the creative flow. It is like trying to plan out how you are about to dance while trying to dance. It just doesn’t work too well. I know, of course, that this conversation goes on inside all of us whenever we problem solve. However, too much of it, for me, is actually exhausting. It is just not fun. I used to do it much longer than I do now.
The reason I limit the time I spend in this way of thinking is because it didn’t help me make my best work. My Art improved when the experience of making my Art improved. And that happened when I shifted more of my decision making from the rational to the intuitive.
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Intuition is defined as “the ability to understand something immediately, without the need for conscious reasoning.”
Amazingly, once you let go of “conscious reasoning” there aren’t a whole lot of barriers standing in your way. Can I really just make a decision in a nano second according to a gut feeling and this actually will lead me somewhere different? More authentic? More easily? Really?
It seems too good to be true. No wonder Albert Einstein described intuition as “the most valuable thing” in life.
What is amazing to me is that I sometimes forget. I stop trusting this knowing. And when I do I tend to avoid the studio and instead choose something easier that doesn’t require me answering questions.
But what if you already knew all the answers? What if the more you answered the questions, the easier, the more joyful they became. What if these questions that only you have been ordained to answer were used to make Art that was so authentic, so like you that it allowed not only you, but everyone else to see the world in a brand new way?
Sometimes things that seem too good to be true actually are true.
How does intuition show up in your creative process? I would like to read some of your thoughts and comments on this.
In gratitude, Nicholas
the founder of Art2Life.
With over 20 years experience as a working artist and educator, I’ve developed a systematic approach that brings authenticity, spontaneity and joy back into the creative process.