The Myth of Inspiration : Don’t Wait to Paint

May 31, 2016 | Articles

Big process paintings in progress at Elohee (The Painting Experience 2016)


Wherever you are is the entry point. ~ Kabir

Who does not feel the tingle of excitement at the prospect of painting? Paint is sensuous. Its rich vibrant colors and its yielding smoothness make you want to taste the delicious enjoyment of applying it to paper. To stand before the white void with a rich spectrum of colors and brushes is one of the most exciting experiences — unfulfilled potential permeates the space between you and the untouched surface.

The brushes beckon to you. Their soft ends invite you to give them a full draught of rich paint. You know that an original gesture is about to take place, the beginning of a journey that will lead you to unknown lands.

Creative Energy Is Always Available to You

Creation is a response. Do you need special inspiration to respond? Isn’t it possible to respond to anything? When you approach your white paper you might bring moods, feelings, problems, and physical discomforts that do not seem conducive to painting.

“I don’t feel like painting. I’m not inspired. I don’t feel creative today,” are sentiments we often feel, even if we don’t voice them. The belief that we need to be in a special state to create is deeply ingrained conditioning.

What if creation is not confined to a certain range of feelings or an inspired mood? Couldn’t you pick up a brush and instantly face the state you are in and use it? Creativity would be very limited if it could exist only in rare circumstances. There is energy and creative potential in all states. As long as life is there, the potential is full.

Wherever you are is the entry point. To do a simple thing with integrity — a point, a line, a scribble, a rough image — is the most creative response you can make. Instead of struggling and forcing something special to happen, you do what you can do. And that is already enormous, because it’s a gesture that comes entirely from within, without yielding to the pressures of how you should do it and what it should look like.


Brightly colored process painting at Still Meadow Retreat Center (The Painting Experience)


Painting with Unconditional Acceptance Is Powerful

Creation is never about changing yourself: It is about meeting yourself, probing deeply into your own core. Creation wants only to fulfill your deepest desire: to know and accept yourself as you are. There are no conditions, no invitations to show at the door. You are at the door and your brush is the key. Nothing is a mistake; everything is an extension of your being. You go into what is there; you discover the courage to face what exists. You step into the middle of yourself and move from there.

If you wait for inspiration, you may wait a long time. The more you wait, the more you think and get entangled in the tight net of success and failure. You do not need an idea to paint; you need only a brush.

Learn More About Process Painting

This article is adapted from the book Life, Paint and Passion: Reclaiming the Magic of Spontaneous Expression, co-authored by Stewart Cubley.

For an introduction to process painting, see Why Paint for Process?

To find out about opportunities to participate in The Painting Experience, see our Programs.

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