Intuitive Painting: Tapping into Creative Accidents

By Smith, F. N. G. | Arts & Activities, April 2004 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

Intuitive Painting: Tapping into Creative Accidents

Smith, F. N. G., Arts & Activities

The advanced drawing and painting class had seen Abstract Expressionist art before, but few of the juniors had tried to paint in that style, Some students felt that such art was "a cop out," that it didn't have much merit because it looked too easy. I decided to give them the opportunity to prove themselves.

Our one and a half-hour lesson began by viewing extracts from two videos. Each extract was approximately 3 minutes long. The first was from the New York School in which Willem de Kooning talked in his studio about painting with his eyes closed. The other clip came from American Masters: Robert Motherwell and the New York School and featured a demonstration of instinctual painting from the Surrealist, Matta Echaurren.

We discussed de Kooning and Matta's painting styles, and noted their similarities and differences. We analyzed the use of "automatism," or automatic painting, which encourages creative accidents to occur as the artist is directed largely by intuition. Some students were interested in the idea of painting through a stream of consciousness and thought it was a modern innovation. I pointed out that it occurred in the early 20th century when Modernist artists like Joyce, Eliot and Stravinsky sought to break traditional rules.

I quoted D.H. Lawrence whose great religion was a belief in the blood, the flesh, as being wiser than the intellect. Lawrence went on to say that we can all go wrong in our minds but what our hearts say is often the truth. I asked if it was possible to utilize Lawrence's philosophy in painting: to be directed by the instinct rather than by rules; to be audacious; to make a giant leap of faith into the unknown.

After our brief discussion, I gave a 20-minute demonstration. An 18"x 24" canvas board was set up on an easel and several media were close at hand: oil and chalk pastels, acrylics, soluble oils. As I painted hurriedly, I explained to students I would try hot to spend time examining what I was doing. The goal was to suspend all judgment and lotus on applying color and shapes wherever it "felt" right; this might even include mixing paint on the canvas with my fingers. (Latex gloves are ideal for this purpose.) Painting became a stream-of-consciousness process: exploring color, form, patterns, and allowing each to resonate iii search of an identity; in essence, letting the painting paint itself without employing any rigorous rules.

Students giggled as colors clashed and odd shapes appeared. Perhaps seeing their teacher creating a mess was liberating, making them feel less threatened when they came to paint. Already, I could see how eager they were to start their own works.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Cite this article

Cited article

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited article

Intuitive Painting: Tapping into Creative Accidents


Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?