After Your Workshop

The work you’ve done is like dropping a polished stone into the waters of the unconscious.

There will likely be ripples appearing in your life for some time to come. ~ Stewart Cubley

Here, you’ll find suggestions and tips to help with feelings and questions that often arise after a Painting Experience retreat:

The Institute for Art and Living (DBA: The Painting Experience)

We’re a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization. Your tax-deductible donation allows us to continue to create new programs and bring process painting to even more communities. You will receive a confirmation that can be used for year-end tax purposes.

Video Resources

We’re often asked about the videos we show to support the painting process at our workshops. Here’s a list of favorites, along with ordering information.

What to Do After a Workshop

After a workshop, returning to daily life can sometimes be challenging, especially if you’ve participated in a longer retreat. Your inner life is heightened; it’s a time to treat yourself with extra gentleness and care. The following suggestions are culled from many years of witnessing participants’ lives in the days following a painting retreat:

Give yourself the gift of quiet time.

The work you’ve done is like dropping a polished stone into the waters of the unconscious, and there will likely be ripples appearing in your life for some time to come. Quiet time is important for integration, especially during the first week or two after a workshop.

Make room for memories, dreams and fresh perceptions.

Spontaneous expression, and the insights that frequently follow, can create a new sense of yourself, your relationships, and your environment. Don’t be surprised if you experience surges of love and joy, and an increased sensitivity to beauty and color. Memories and dreams may surface from the unconscious, along with feelings of appreciation, wonder, pleasure, expansion and freedom.

Practice self-care as you accept the range of your emotions

As with any great opening, there can also be a “rubber band effect” — that is, a reflexive contraction that is a natural part of the balancing process. It’s not uncommon to feel emotionally and physically exhausted after a period of intense growth. You may experience swings in your energy and openness, and it’s not unusual to feel vulnerable and raw, or temporarily empty or flat. You may feel oversensitive, even to the point of being reactive to others, especially those close to you.

Your ability to be nonjudgmental and self-loving are important during these times. Trust that these swings will settle down as your experience becomes more integrated. Real change naturally involves periods of uncertainty, and this time after a workshop is of great value if you understand that even emotions that feel dark are a necessary part of the process.

Take care when sharing your process.

Your completed paintings are the visible remains of an inner journey. The greater part of what happened during your experience lies below the surface, and therefore can be shared with others only indirectly.

If and how you share your paintings with others is an individual choice that will be influenced by your feeling at the time. It is helpful to consider your motives for showing them, and what you want from others in return. Very often someone will feel truly inspired from seeing and hearing about your journey. It is also possible that you may feel somewhat deflated if your friend or loved one does not respond with the depth of appreciation you feel your experience deserves, or even worse, with judgment and criticism.

The paintings are a visual journal of your private explorations, and need not be shown. The important thing to hold in mind is the validity of your own experience regardless of other’s opinions. If family and friends ask what process painting is about, it may be helpful to share our video.

Finally, if you know others who you feel would benefit from the gifts of process painting, please consider recommending our workshops to them. The Painting Experience relies on word-of-mouth referrals from painters just like you

Tips for Painting at Home

Painting at home will continue to enrich your connection with the creative source. It’s helpful to begin soon after a workshop, while the experience is still fresh — but you can start any time. Here are some tips to help you get started:

Trust what arises.

There will be moments in your painting when judgment arises and you want to cover, redo, fix, rip — or burn! — your painting. These moments are often pivotal in your process and will open new avenues of discovery if you handle them with integrity. In the spirit of respect, consider everything that has been born from your brush as worthy of its place.

Keep it simple.

Find a private wall where you can leave your painting (or set up easily), and give yourself the permission to paint for even short periods. One easy way to set up is to keep your paints in a container in the fridge (an ice-cube tray, for example) so that you can pull them out at a moment’s notice. The coolness keeps the paints fresh, especially if they are moistened and covered.

Don’t stop if you are stuck!

Abandoning your experience makes it hard to get back to the painting. One of the biggest challenges at home is dealing with judgment and resistance. If you start to lose momentum, try challenging yourself to first stay with, and second, to express the difficult feelings.

Follow through to the end.

Completing a painting is not about protecting it, abandoning it, or being bored. Your willingness to inquire at the moment of completion will greatly facilitate your own discovery. The most exciting times in the process often happen after you think you are finished!

Allow integration.

Much inner work continues between your painting sessions. It’s helpful to acknowledge this and pay attention to what arises outside of painting times.

Paint with us Online

After you have completed a course in The Painting Experience, you’ll have the support of our online painting community. Stewart regularly hosts Online Painting sessions. In the silence of your at-home painting space, you’re supported by the the presence of other silent painters; you hear the brushes being stirred in the water, the shuffling of feet, the dog barking in the background. And you hear the conversations Stewart has with other participants, which you may find helpful for your own process. It’s a great way to stay connected to a growing community of process painters and to keep your process alive.

Learn About our Facilitator’s Course

Introduction to Facilitating Process Arts includes audio, video, and written presentations in combination with opportunities to regularly connect with experienced facilitators and other course participants. The course is designed to support you if:

  • You already teach process painting—or you’ve thought you might like to someday.
  • You work in another process-oriented learning environment—for example, as a therapist or teacher—and you would like to enrich your ability to use the tools of process with your clients or students
  • You want to deepen your own experience of process painting.