Finding the Courage to Create

The Courage to Create

Process painting gifts us with many insights and understandings that become landmarks in our own personal journey. It’s not a narcissistic activity, as some might think, because by working on ourselves, we are working on the world. In the mirror of painting, our narcissistic tendencies are revealed as creative blocks, and we must emerge from the realm of self-involvement to proceed.

Why you need courage to create

In our hesitation to pick a color, we notice our self-doubt. In our reaction to the forms and images that appear, we glimpse the immense network of our judgments. Physical sensations come to the forefront as we enter into the somatic reality of being in the moment. Tendencies to look outside and compare become highlighted as they pull us away from ourselves and exhaust us. Attempts to capture what worked before create a flatness and boredom that nudge us toward the risk of the unknown. Familiar feelings of inadequacy, unworthiness, and awkwardness parade in front of us, hoping once again to capture our allegiance.

The emotional richness of art

Behind and between these familiar voices, we’re also graced with those magic moments of self-transcendence and quiet stillness in which we glimpse something of our own true nature. As our defenses against the reality of our lives become more transparent, we begin a truly life-transforming work. The intimate moments of courage, surrender, and breakthrough that the painting process so naturally calls forth will lead to changes in the way we perceive and act. The paintings, at a certain point, jump off the page, showing us the way to a more courageous and meaningful participation in the world.

“The object of painting a picture is not to make a picture—
however unreasonable this may sound.
The picture, if a picture results, is a by-product
and may be useful, valuable, interesting as a sign of what has passed.
The object, which is back of every true work of art,
is the attainment of a state of being,
a high state of functioning,
a more than ordinary moment of existence.”

-Robert Henri 

Discover a practice that focuses on the creative act itself and experience of painting, without concern for talent, skill, or accomplishment. Join Stewart Cubley and Matt Belay for Awakening the Creative: The Painting Experience at the Art of Living Retreat Center from October 11-16, 2020.

stewart headshotStewart Cubley is a pioneer of “process painting” with over four decades of experience. His method is one of respectful questioning, inviting you to extend yourself into new areas of thought and feeling. Stewart travels throughout the world, teaching his unique approach to thousands of people at personal growth centers such as the Esalen Institute and the Omega Institute. He has brought his work to multinational corporations, programs in prisons, and many other public forums and is the co-author of Life, Paint & Passion, Reclaiming the Magic of Spontaneous Expression. He and his wife, Shae Irving, live in Fairfax, California and spend part of the year on their homestead near Denali Park, Alaska.

This article was first posted on, and is reposted with the permission of the author.

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