On an order of ten million to one, brain researchers estimate that there is more information in the right (creative, intuitive, unconscious) brain than in the left (linear, logical, conscious) brain. As artists, it is essential that we learn how to dig deeply into the infinite creative flow that is available to each of us. The alternative is to skim the surface of our unique talent, denying ourselves and our clients of unending growth, delight and richness of expression.
There are two approaches to engaging in the creative process. The most common one is to use your logical mind to determine what the completed project will look like before you ever begin. The less common approach is to focus on the process rather than the product. One way to do this is to lay out all of your painting materials, randomly choose a brush and a paint color and begin applying the paint to the silk with no concern for where the project is going. The piece evolves brush stroke by brush stroke as you ask yourself, “What’s next?”; always listening deeply for the authentic answer and allowing what is supposed to be painted through you to emerge onto the silk.
The latter is the way I paint and the way I teach my clients how to paint. We expand our creativity, listen carefully to the still voice within and ignore the voice that shouts, “This is the correct way.” When I paint, my main job is to kick out that critical voice that is always telling me what I am doing wrong, what’s pretty and what’s ugly and, of course, the question that stops creativity dead in its tracks: “Can I sell this?”
When we turn ourselves over to our creativity, we are tapping into a force much greater than ourselves. There are lots of names for this depending upon your spiritual beliefs: authentic self, higher self, God, energy, the Universe. Regardless of the terminology, we are all tapping into that part of ourselves that knows much more than we think we do. It’s the part that has been taking in the beauty of the world while your left brain was focusing on something else.
Painting with my right brain, has brought me an array of surprising gifts. The main one was discovering that I could paint. As a child I was told at home and at school that I had no talent. It was so bad that I actually cheated in art class. What made it worse for me was that I had always had a strong desire to paint. As an adult, I took a few oil painting classes at a local recreational center because I could work and rework the piece to make it “perfect.” Later I challenged myself to play with children’s watercolors without taking lessons. Eventually I took about four silk painting classes and read a couple of books to get a few basics. Then I just began to explore, play and create without knowing where I was going—or what I was doing.
The result has been that figures appear in my paintings that I do not consciously put there. My pieces are often filled with dolphins, dragons, fish, birds, flowers and people. For instance, during a lecture for a couture design class, I did a very quick silk painting demonstration, just putting color down to show them a simple technique. When I got the piece home, I couldn’t remember where the top was. In turning it to look at different views, I discovered that the painting was actually a large bird in an apple tree. It is very clearly a robin, which was my favorite bird growing up in Detroit, Michigan. There aren’t many robins in Dallas and none had been in my back yard over the years. Within the week, there were robins covering my side and back yards. They stayed for days. Since I cannot paint realistically in any medium, allowing this robin to come through me felt mystical and incredibly fulfilling.
As I continue to explore my creativity, I have added watercolors, acrylics, metal sculpture, mixed media and have even invented ways to display fashion as art on the walls. I have been shown internationally, in the Canton Art Museum, in juried art shows and sell through art museums and galleries as well as fashion designers. For someone who was convinced that she had no talent, I continue to be amazed by what is showing up in my life.
No matter how creative you are, there is always more creativity that is lying dormant. Shut out the negative voices, open yourself up to create from your soul and enjoy the beauty of your hidden gifts.
How are you using your right brain to create art and/or your life? If you want to change your life, contact Dr. Paula, The Life Doctor.