Is The Painting Experience for you?

Thank you for creating a space for painting this past week that was filled with a depth of sacredness

I have not experienced before during all of my painting experiences.

It was as if I had stepped into a temple, a sacred space, a place of peace and safety.

I am sure you heard it,

Those moments when all sound disappeared.

The room filled with quiet wonder,

Except for the light sound of brush on paper.

For moments nothing more.

The first time I heard this silence I was in awe.

The second time I knew I was in the presence of beauty, grace and hope for our world.

Then the sounds once again would slowly come to life.

An amazing, beautiful experience I was fortunate to be a part of.

~ John Boland, June 2018

Artistic / Creative

The essential artistic freedom is the right to create unburdened by pressures to perform, produce or succeed. Learning to trust your creative impulse requires a safe atmosphere that genuinely honors and respects individual differences without competition or comparison.

Healing / Therapeutic

It’s deeply healing to express feelings creatively and to use them as a catalyst for change. Not interpreting our painting allows innocence. Accepting imperfection yields compassion. Risking vulnerability connects us with others.

Meditative / Spiritual

Process painting offers an exceptional opportunity to profoundly inhabit the present moment. It’s an engaged spirituality — a practice of equanimity, presence, and learning to stay in the face of whatever arises.

What other teachers are saying…

Through The Painting Experience, I have located crannies of resistance in my mind and opened them up. I’ve been freed from concepts of inadequacy, from limiting opinions of what’s beautiful, from censoring emotions and desires. At one point I bolted from the workshop to finish writing a chapter that had been giving me much difficulty and was suddenly revealed as my brush stroked the paper.

~ Natalie Goldberg, author & teacher

For as long as I have been teaching mindfulness, I have also been painting and exploring creative expression as a vital part of my spiritual life.  Just as we meet ourselves with mindfulness on the cushion, we also meet ourselves in the moment-to-moment movement of the brush on the page.  Stewart Cubley knows the delicate skill of entering the process with you and guiding you ever so gently and playfully into the deeper waters of your soul’s exploration.  The result is an expansion of being and creative possibility.

~ Anna Douglas, Spirit Rock teacher

Without ritual or dogma, Stewart encourages the invisible forces of the universe flowing though each of us to become visible. His teaching points towards the transcendent, using the path of our own vital creativity.

~ Hogen Bays, Abbot of Great Vow Zen Buddhist Monastery, Clatskanie, Oregon

With Stewart’s skillful teaching and kind guidance The Painting Experience becomes a mindfulness practice in living color. With nothing more than a brush, a piece of paper, and some paint, the challenges and joys of practice — attachment, resistance, liking and not liking, acceptance, letting go, not knowing, curiosity, wonder, courage, concentration — are there to behold, moment by moment. Utterly amazing!

~ Nancy Bardacke, midwife and author of Mindful Birthing

Process painting is a very practical extension of the central Christian conviction that God loves to take flesh in our physical world. The Painting Experience is a decision to give oneself over to the creativity of God; to co-operate with the Holy; to allow God’s Spirit to move through us with paint, brush and paper as the Spirit wishes.

~ Father John Quigley, Franciscan Friar

Your conducting of the Painting Experience workshop with your assistant, Annie Danberg, was masterful! You were able to accomplish a rare task. You both formed and sustained a supportive group feeling of utter safety, focus and creativity. For me, the experience was liberating, full of color, intensity and fun. It was a perfect vehicle to allow each one of us to encounter and set at a distance our inner voices of self-criticism, self-doubt and timidity while inhabiting the realm of paint and paper and imagination. The experience of a group of people exploring their individual inner worlds generating a community was profoundly moving. I would strongly recommend the Painting Experience for people seeking access to their imagination and interested in a unique process of self-discovery. I have referred patients to your groups and found that they benefited and will certainly continue to do so. Best wishes and gratitude.

~ Alan Leveton, MD

Associate Clinical Professor of Pediatrics and Psychiatry, University of California School of Medicine San Francisco. Founder and Past-President, Northern California Association of Family Therapists. Psychiatric Director of the Family Therapy Center, San Francisco.

What participants are saying…

The closest experience in my life to The Painting Experience was giving birth to my three children. Just like being in labor I entered periods of transition where I just wanted to quit, be done with the thing and wondered, “Whose idea was this anyway?” But with the capable midwifery skills of Annie and Stewart I was encouraged to not give up and see the paintings through to completion. The satisfaction was wonderful and is with me still as I gather paint, brushes, tape, paper and cardboard for my painting corner, a “nursery” for my future “children”. Many, many thanks!  ~ Shelley Klotz,

I came to the Painting Experience a non-painter. I thought I would be staring at a blank canvas all week. But once I started painting I hardly stopped, losing track of time and place. A dormant, non-verbal self woke up and expressed a missing piece that I didn’t know was there. I am now painting everyday, starting to write again, and carry around an idea journal with me everywhere I go. ~ Tammy Parks

I had no idea the experience that process painting revealed to me was coming. I was ambivalent about the session afterwards, wanting to love the experience but found myself wanting that dopamine hit of a beautiful end result…Then it dawned on me that I had been fighting my inner judger the whole session.  Hooked on needing affirmation, I felt naked with my own creativity. And I remembered that little girl who stopped drawing and tore up the paper in frustration because it didn’t look right. This process painting is very powerful. The feeling of nowhere to hide, face to face with yourself alone, is indescribable and has to be experienced. I thought I understood the purpose of process painting, and I did intellectually.  But it is now an embodied experience. Miraculous and surprising.    Thank you!  ~ Jennifer B.

I wanted to thank you again for a terrific workshop – which, in case it wasn’t obvious, in the space of just a few days transformed my former feelings of anxiety and ambivalence about “”doing art”” into just plain fun — with a little residual anxiety still sprinkled in for extra energy. I’m really happy with the experience I had and a new appreciation for the creative process that it encouraged. ~ David E

I came home intending to paint everyday and I have pretty much stuck to that goal — even if it’s just a few brush strokes. Just keeping the intention to engage with my art daily. I have been sporadically creative in my life, and our class helped me see that I tend to stop my process when I am scared, or bored or frustrated. When I came home, I realized that my house was filled with half-finished art projects that had been stopped for this very reason, kind of like psychic miscarriages. Accumulating more and more over time what was happening was that I was developing a habitual pattern of stopping when I felt I couldn’t go further. So instead of starting new paintings, I have actually focused on finishing old ones. It has been very therapeutic, as I learned from the workshop that these paintings are kind of like psychic children, so I need to complete the birth process. Kind of deep, I know. I’ve been enjoying it! ~ Oona Edwards

Thank you so much for your gentle encouragement and for creating such a safe environment for insight and growth. The addition of the inspirational films added a whole new dimension to the creative process. I am feeling very full of possibility and positivity and I definitely want to continue this journey at home. ~ Christie Kearney

Before I started painting yesterday I listened to my Feldenkrais CD and did the movements to get my mind and body into a peaceful and aware state. I found it very conducive to getting into the right sort of relaxed state to start painting. I found the same kind of connectivity in the painting experience as I get doing Feldenkrais. It’s deeply satisfying on a level that’s very hard to express in words. A big thank you again – it was a wonderful experience and the start of a new phase in my life. ~ Vivien Cook

The workshop was everything that I hoped it would be without quite knowing what that would be in advance. I had read the book several times some years before and knew that the guiding principles would be just my cup of tea. I experienced being able to simply paint, moment by moment, with curiosity and without judgment of myself or of those around me and that brought me a deep, quiet satisfaction. I had been going through a long dry spell of no painting and just being able to paint from the start to the end of the workshop was a wonderful gift! Stewart and Annie were so respectful of each person’s process, and that was a great support. The people in this workshop shared their real selves and that was a testament to the power of the process. I felt humbled and blessed to share this experience with everyone there. ~ Kimie Fujimoto

My experience was quite personal and positive! I thought it would be a workshop for “painting on the right side of the brain” where I’d be shown a methodical approach to accessing inner artistic ability. But for me, it felt quite free-form and open with consistently interested, aware and intuitive guidance from the facilitators. Those few precious workshop days became an inner psychological emotional exploration of my own unique creative process, which took some courage to really look at and go through, in terms of recognizing old blocks of fear and criticism to my own fountain of creativity. I discovered ways through the blocks with the subtle guidance offered. Thank you Process Arts for offering this precious package of experiences with studio art, colorful paints and inner workings. ~ Kate Gerity

The Painting Experience has provided me with a particular awakening and journey of compassion and healing. It stretched me and helped break some deep places of negativity — toward myself and the world — that had been crystallized for a long time. Your teaching and support offered unconditional caring and vision. That is a true gift — to experience being seen in that way. ~ Claudia H

I am still learning how the work has affected my art. During the first few weeks after the workshop I noticed that the color of things was very illuminated. It was a wonderful experience. At the moment I am using the painting to work through some  deep emotional blocks and I am amazed how much it helps to get through this. ~ Andrea Narins

This is where I go when I want to dive into life, paint, and passion with others. It’s more than creativity. It’s transformation. ~ Gail Baker

My experience was very powerful. The first night I was very tense and in a rush. Then on Saturday my back tightened up very strongly while I was painting. I was able to make a connection between my back tightening and a particular inner complex in my psyche that gets attached to completing tasks in an arbitrary timeline in order to feel a sense of control and accomplishment. I gained a profound insight through this process. ~ Payton Tontz 

I am always blown away by the outcome — forever changing, surprising, and allowing for growth in so many unexpected ways! LOVE IT! And the joy and fun of painting as well as meeting all kinds of new people or reconnecting with the old is such a boost. ~Nina Souther, June 2012 Thank you very much for a very fun few days. I can see how the workshop contributes to creativity in art as well as life. It was amazing to see each of us bust out of ourselves. I’m so grateful you did not feel compelled to have name tags and touchy-feely exercises, as we were there to paint! Great call. ~ Linda Zahavi 

And more…

*** I want to thank you all for setting me free on this path. I am still not free of judgments about my paintings. Nonetheless, I set my self free on occasion, turn my hands over to Creator, then sit back and enjoy the ride. The process sometimes fills me with awe, joy and gratitude. I am elated, embarrassed, and prideful, when family and friends express their amazement and bewilderment at the paintings that emerge from my time with paper, paint, brush, and Creator.  When they ask me how I manage to create what they see, I assure them that I am as surprised and confounded as they are.

*** This workshop is resonating with me still. It is absolutely fascinating how, by just entering in willingness, you can be taken on an incredible journey beyond your conscious control. And end up in something mysterious, shattering, and wonderful. 

*** While showing the Painting Experience DVD to a friend, my 4-year old twin daughters watched with us with intense interest. At the end of the DVD, my daughter, Jordyn, proclaimed “I need my markers!” Both girls grabbed paper and markers and began to color with vigor. I was amazed at the different way Jordyn approached her artwork after viewing the DVD. It instantly changed. She went from simple line drawings of rainbows and hearts, to more organic, free-flowing shapes. When I asked her what was coloring, she replied “It’s not about what I am coloring, it is about how I feel when I am coloring it.” Completely in awe, I asked, “Well, how do you feel?” She said, “Great. I am coloring the inside of the body. It’s my imagination.” I could not believe how she got all that from the ten-minute video. What a budding artist within! An interesting side-note: As Jordyn and I continued discuss her art and “the process,” her twin sister told us we were doing “too much talking” about coloring and continued with her simple hearts and flowers. Vive la difference! 

*** There are so many levels of growth and spirit cloaked within this simple practice, it truly defies words. What I feel most drawn to is the sense of experiencing the Divine. I have studied many of the scriptures. I have tried through meditation to release the ego, and I feel this process is the best way to have that experience for me. I am changed somehow — open, light, more engaged with others. When I left on Sunday, I was so filled with bliss I felt as if a river of pure joy was flowing through me. Today it’s a quiet bubbling brook.

*** I just wanted to say that I am still carrying with me the teaching I experienced at Esalen this spring. Your workshop has been a beautiful piece of a much broader discovery of true self. I continue to marvel at how the universe sends us these pieces as we need them.

*** Last week was one of the deepest and most meaningful experiences of my life.  I’m still feeling the shifts coming like gentle waves around and under and inside of me, hardly detectable on the surface but huge on an  interior, sensory level.  I feel vastly changed, somehow born in a new fragile and highly sensitive form( a soft-shelled crab? a metamorphosing insect?)   It is very exciting and scary to be so open, trying to be aware of the overwhelming energy blast that this enthusiasm seems to bring on right now. I am creeping in the shadows of last week, absorbing, trying to stay in the quiet softness so that I can understand all that is transforming. 

*** The weekend was magical, like being gently caressed and churned under by those gorgeous ocean swells, and carried to deeper and deeper places where nothing is fixed or bound. I find I am bringing more of myself to the table, feeling a little bolder and a little more free, more discerning without demanding, judging, putting down those around me. 

*** Let me share with you one experience in painting since I have come home. I was painting lines and shapes around some paint runs on the paper when “the voice” came on and said, “This is not genuinely from your heart and soul, you are a fraud and you are cheating.” Everything stopped. Then I thought, “OK I will paint Cheating.” And as I kept on painting, all these crazy, whimsical creatures started to come out. They were very unexpected and quite charming. I gave them a name: “CHEATERS.” Several days later they’re still coming at me! 

*** I woke up Monday morning to a picture in my mind of shades of violet and found myself apologizing to the color for not exploring it . . . with a promise that I would sometime soon. These colors have taken on a life of their own . . . and it appears they are alive and well. What joy. 

*** What I took away from the workshop was a deepening of my understanding of the difference between coming from where the energy is and where the idea is. I immediately want to tie something up in an interpretation of meaning. I saw how habitual that is and how immediate. 

*** Being back home is different. I am functioning in the world differently… more spontaneously… more honest with myself… and noticing some things, like how I am usually stopped by an inner negativity that lies. I find myself asking myself where the energy is… thinking about completion. I am sure I will be digesting all this for a long time. This process could change the world. Everyone should try it!

*** Unexpected is the way this art process has deepened my attunement to my clients. As I sit with people, as they struggle internally, I keep having flashbacks of myself, standing in front of a blank piece of paper with no idea of what will end up there. Yet I know something will — just as I know my clients will find their internal path. . . . Quite an amazing experience. 

*** Remember the movie, “Field of Dreams?” I fantasized that re-entry could be as smooth as the ball players emerging from or seeping back into the cornfield. After all, I had been part of something mysterious, playful, important, that transcended time, the logical world, and the every-day-ness of my life. But reentry was a difficult process. It seemed when I came back to work as if I had been living in color and was returning to gray. In the movie Joe asks Ray, “Is this Heaven?,” and Ray says, “No, it’s Iowa.” That’s the question, isn’t it? How to bring the mystery and soul into the everyday places I live and work. I think I’ve known for years that this was the question, but since The Painting Experience, I’m experiencing it in new, more challenging ways. You said, “It’s about becoming more of who you are instead of less.” I like that, and it’s not so scary. 

*** I just wanted to let you know that after taking your painting weekend, I met someone who I fell in love with and am marrying. The interesting thing was, that after looking back at my paintings from that experience, I had actually painted him (after painting through my dark heart!). Thank you for the experience and the wonderful gift! 

*** Painting is a front or a tool for me to cultivate deeper listening — sensitivity to something underneath that is moving my life. I‘ve wanted to grab onto it and say, “Yes this is it, this is my identity.” But it’s not, there’s something else that painting is nourishing within me — something that I am responding to and learning to recognize and be receptive to and responsive to . . .