5 Intuitive Art Exercises For Radical Transformation
Have you ever muttered the words "I'm not an artist" while simultaneously feeling the undeniable urge to make something—anything—with your hands? If so, you're not alone.
I believe human aliveness and creative capacity go hand in hand, and I also know deep down in my bones that creativity is a crucial part of holistic well-being. Just like moving your body and eating well, fortifying your creative muscles is a powerful way to cultivate happiness, healthiness, and confidence—not to mention spontaneity, innovation, and play!
But so many of our days are full, and getting creative is the last thing most of us want to do when things get hectic. Even I, an artist at heart, know that to be true.
After painting large-scale, acrylic pieces for a couple of decades, the inspiration, time, and effort required to show up to this particular flavor of creative expression has felt increasingly harder to access lately. And while I'll always love painting huge, messy paintings on canvas, my soul's been craving a more integrated kind of creativity—the kind that easily weaves itself into all aspects of my life.
My quest has led me to an abundance of accessible, creativity-fueled moments. And the good news is, they don't require fancy art supplies, a special studio, technical skills, or a lot of time. In fact, some of these practices have nothing to do with making actual artwork at all. Instead, they're about living a more curious, intuitive, and tuned-in life by fueling the fires that support creative well-being. Here are a few you can try out in your own routine:
1. Draw musical lines
Find some paper and your favorite drawing device, such as a pen, pencil, marker, or crayon. Tape the paper down to a table or wall, so it doesn't shift. Choose some music you really love, close your eyes, and take a few deep breaths. Keep your eyes closed, and allow the music to guide your pen or marker across the paper. Respond intuitively with flowing lines, jagged angles, luscious swirls, wild scribbles, or dainty marks—whatever moves you!
When you're ready to open your eyes, see if you can find any interesting shapes in your array of musical lines, or just enjoy the abstract quality of what you've created. Perhaps you'll be inspired to keep working on this piece, add new mediums, or move on to the next paper with a different song. You can also try this exercise using both hands simultaneously.
2. Wander intuitively.
Whether you call it following your inner guidance, responding to an inkling, or having a sixth sense, listening to and acting on your intuition can result in more clarity, self-trust, and serendipity. Intuitive wandering is a fun, simple way to flex your intuitive muscles.
Carve out some time, whether it's five minutes or five hours, to go on a walk without a plan, route, or destination in mind. At every intersection, pause and check in by taking a deep breath, closing your eyes, and placing your hands on your belly and heart. Notice where your body wants to go. Do you feel pulled in one direction? Without overthinking, follow your intuition and see where it leads you while staying open to magic along the way.
3. Gather inspiration.
Many of us walk around with cameras (or phones, at least) in our pockets these days, which allows for easy inspiration gathering. You can further tune into the world around you by seeking out unique color stories with your lens. Notice where light and shadow dance. Get up close and personal with an interesting object. Turn your eyes to the sky, or find a bird's-eye view from above. Notice the textures, patterns, and shapes that draw you in for a closer look. Using your camera to explore what sparks your curiosity allows the world to come alive in new ways right before your very eyes.
4. Invite the sensual.
Did I get your attention with this one? The truth is human beings have an amazing ability to experience life more dynamically when our senses are more awakened and aware. Consider how many ways you could truly sip and savor your morning beverage or delight in the way the sun feels on your skin. What is it like to listen deeply to the soothing sound of your loved one's voice or taste a meal like it's the last one you'll have?
When you're able to slow down and truly experience the subtleties of these and other sensations in all their sensual glory, you'll automatically arrive more fully in the present moment, where creativity abounds.
5. Explore nontraditional tools.
I'm a big fan of thinking outside the box when it comes to painting tools. I find that it brings more play and less worry to the adventure of making art. Some of my favorite "brushes" include celery, corn on the cob, plants, corks, combs, and pen caps, but really anything is fair game! Instead of having a plan or working toward a finished painting, simply see how many different kinds of marks each tool can make. I suggest using fluid paint or mixing in a bit of water so your paint can flow easily off your wonderful, new tools and onto your paper or canvas.