November 25, 2009

* Free Expression Painting

It was something I had wanted to do for years.  I kept delaying it.  I can't afford it,  it's bad timing, there will be another workshop next year, I don't want to go alone.  When I had the big wake up call, I realized a few things.   I will afford it, the timing is wonderful, if not now, when(?), and I had better get used to going alone because 'no one is coming'!!  So off I trotted, to Hornby Island, to a workshop with Caroline James.

It's a life altering experience.  You work through your creative 'process'.  You learn not to worry about the end result.  You PLAY, like a four year old child. When I was finally able to 'let go', I found myself in that 'magical place' of bliss.  That magical place of 'no place' where time doesn't exist, your surroundings are negated, and you come back into the room from time to time, not knowing where you have been, or where the afternoon has gone.   On the way there, you meet your dragons head on.  There is no alternative but to face them.  Caroline makes sure all the bumps in the road are tended to with respect, love, gentleness and above all, grace.  Your 'artist' is very safe there.  Judgment does not exist.  There is no critique.  No one sees or views your work unless they are invited by you to do so.  As your demons emerge from the dark recesses, Caroline gently encourages you to stay with it, to just be.  She  poses pertinent questions.  Your feelings and emotions are respected.  My personal dragons, which occasionally show up in other areas of my life as well, sounded something like this .... I want out of here!!!  Run away, Donna, as fast as your little legs can carry you.  Quit while you're ahead girl.  Don't take any risks.  Be afraid, be very afraid!!  You will displease someone.  It won't be perfect.  It won't be good enough.  Why do I even try?  I have absolutely no talent.  Where's the Rabbit Hole - I want to jump in!!

Caroline deals with all of this and more.  Everyone gets through it in a way which is unique to them and goes home with a little more knowledge about what makes them tick.

My personal experience has been one of enabling myself to quiet my inner critic.  I can now do this gently and with great respect.  My critic and I have a whole new relationship.  She no longer shrieks at me from front row centre.  In fact, she has taken a seat at the back of the room and has become quite dignified.  That in itself is very freeing.

So what is free expression painting exactly?  I will share with you a list which was distributed as a handout.

Free Expression Painting is:

- The process of expressing in paint the visual stream of subconscious images that occur continually in the mind.  Free expression painting is 'tapping into that stream".

- The engagement in the PROCESS of creating painted imagery in which one is passionately involved but DETACHED from the outcome or 'product'.

- Dreaming in a conscious state in which you allow random images to rise up at will without editing or interpretation.

- An INTUITIVE RESPONSE to existing inner imagery.

- A way of expressing our natural inclination for 'imagistic' thinking and re-engaging 'the imagizer'.

- TRUST - paying ATTENTION TO THE FIRST THOUGHT/ORIGINAL THOUGHT.  The "spark", the catalyst that engages the imagizer.

- LUCID DREAMING - Dreaming Awake!!  SPONTANEOUS daydreaming.


- FREE ASSOCIATION.  Free Wheeling Imagination!!

- SPONTANEOUS IMAGING.  Storytelling.  Expression.

- What happens when we contact the INVENTOR, the CHILD, the MAGICIAN/SORCERESS and step into the mystery of the creative moment of "I don't know".

Caroline has her MFA.  She wrote her thesis on free expression and first thought painting.  Her own art, which hangs in many galleries, comes from the deep well within her.  Carolines' soul is visible on the outside.  Wisdom and a deep knowing are shared with her students in many ways.  She's a woman ahead of her time.  Knowing who she is, where she has come from and clearly living in the moment are all things which impact you deeply when you meet her.  She is awake, aware, conscious, and mindful.  Simply meeting her, makes you a better person.

I know you will be interested in seeing Carolines' work and knowing more about her workshops.  Please visit her website at  When an opportunity comes your way to join Caroline for a workshop, by all means act on it.  Your life will be enriched by the experience.

My free expression paintings, which you are viewing along the right hand side of this blog, came from two different workshops. (Yes, and I would go back again!)  They are in the order in which they appeared from my subconscious.  I have only shared them with one person .... so ..... this is a huge step for me, putting them all 'out there'!  What the heck!  Life is short and time is flying by so very very quickly.  It's time to LIVE!

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