How to Paint by Intuition: Learn to Trust Your Inner Voice

The most important decision that is necessary for every artist is that of deciding whether you really want to be an artist or not. After that, the most important step is to show up each day and to begin working at creating what you want to create.

“You can’t build a reputation on what you are going to do.” – Henry Ford

After you have committed to showing up to paint each day, do the following to unlock your muse or your intuition or your artistic voice:

First, You Need to Prime Your Pump

1. Ask yourself what you are passionate about. Start there!

Initially, you might not be able to recall any of your passions. You might think that life has kicked all of the passion out of you,  but you are wrong. If that were true, you wouldn’t be here, sitting in front of the computer, trying to learn how to become a more intuitive painter. You would still be vegetating in front of the television. You are still alive. Dig deeper.

2. Overcome Lethargy

Perhaps you feel that you are sinking in the quicksand of your own lethargy. Keep a canister of painting ideas handy to fight that problem, and when you are experiencing painter’s block, pull out one of those ideas and paint it. On my computer’s hard drive, I have a folder called “To Do.”Inside that folder, there are numerous sub-folders containing images that relate to something that I want to paint.

3. Paint First – Title Later

When I begin painting a piece, I refrain from titling it. When I begin painting, I am not sure where the painting will lead me. In fact, I do not title anything until I finish painting the piece entirely. I have masters degrees in both vsual art and writing, and when I am painting words come into my mind. Often, I am reminded of songs that have been meaningful to me.

Consider the Lily – Jacki Kellum Watercolor

The day that I painted Consider the Lily, I had no idea what I would eventually name the piece. I had simply brought home a pot of Asiatic Lilies to paint, and AS I painted, the song and scripture Consider the Lilies of the Field came to me.

Night Lily – Jacki Kellum Watercolor

I painted Night Lily on another day, and I used another pot of lilies. My mood was entirely different. I didn’t title this painting until the day after I painted it.

Titling is a Painting-Stopper. A title is like a straight jacket. If you try to title first, you limit yourself because you paint, trying to confine yourself to the topic of the title. Just paint, let the title spring from the painting.

4. Allow Your Intuition to Do the Heavy Lifting of Your Painting

Creating any type of art requires that a series of decisions be made by the artist: red here? more grass? less water?, etc. When the intuition is fully functioning, the artist is hardly even aware of the questions–the intuition handles the question-and-answer dialog. Before this can happen, however, the artist must first allow Intuition to get his foot in the door, and then, the artist must learn to trust the decisions that his Intuition makes for him.

Intense listening with one’s inner ear–the intuitive ear– is a vital part of sharpening one’s inner eye or his painter’s voice and thus, of extracting a piece’s inward significance. Intuition and the Inner Artist are linked. Intuition is the instinctive way that one’s inner artist views and responds to life. When a painter allows intuition to guide him, the painter himself becomes a vessel and the art flows through the vessel. The same thing is true of the writer.

Janis Joplin – Jacki Kellum Watercolor

Knowing why one does this or that while creating is not important–just doing is the key to becoming. Making art is an intuitive response. When painters create from within their intuitions, they move into  “The Zone.” which literally tugs at the hand to slash a little more blue here- to flood more yellow there, whisper, shout, etc. but it is actually writing from the intuition, which a reservoir of thoughts and emotions that run deeply within each person. The secret is tapping into that reservoir. You simply have to turn off your self-editor and allow the magic to begin. And then you have to Trust the process.

Zebra Gets A Ride: The Ocean City New Jersey Boardwalk Carousel
Jacki Kellum Watercolor

5. Don’t Worry About What Everyone Else Is Thinking about Your Painting

Paint What You Feel and Not What You Think People Want You to Feel

First Hydrangea- Jacki Kellum Watercolor

6. Turn Off Your Self-Editor

Paint first. Let it flow. Just paint. As you paint, do not agonize over every mark that you make. Control is a Painting-Stopper. Whatever it takes, just paint, and don’t let your fear strangle your art.

1 Comment