Can you say yes to everything that arises while you’re painting? Are you up for trying it — even as an experiment, just once? Stewart looks directly at why we’re likely to resist such a big, unconditional “Yes!” and why we should go for it anyway.
An excerpt from Saying Yes . . .
There’s a big yes required in the act of process painting. The painting is asking you to say yes to your experience, moment by moment, brushstroke by brushstroke. Can you say yes to this, and then this, and then this next color, and this next shape? Can you say yes? And of course we can’t. We have in ourselves a lot of no’s and the no’s arise very quickly. We say, “Well, I can say yes generally but not to this part. No, this is not what I should be doing. No, no, no.”
We create a problem, “Okay I’ve got this problem part of my painting. I’m going to have to work with it.” We think we have an issue that needs to be solved and our whole consciousness gets taken over by this problem. We’re no longer saying yes, we’re saying no to this and no to that. We think, “This has to be fixed before I can say yes. Then in the next painting I’ll say yes.” But this doesn’t really work; we end up spinning our wheels. The way this takes form in the painting process is that there’s a part of the painting we don’t like and we’re either tempted to get rid of it, which we can do — we can cover it up or even start over with a new piece of paper — but then we’re just left with, “Okay, I got rid of it, now what?” We’re at Ground Zero again. Or we try to fix it and of course when we try to fix it, it usually ends up looking worse. It looks fixed; it doesn’t look authentic. We’re still left with a no.
So that’s really the challenge, that’s really the question in process painting. Are you interested in the experiment of saying yes? I mean, it’s a rather controlled environment — it’s not like a lot’s going to go wrong and your life is going to go down the drain because you happened to say yes to one painting. It might be interesting to see what happens if you said yes to everything.
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