The Process of Process Art

This weekend I did a one-day retreat of yoga and art. The day started with a 3 hour yoga class taught by Nancy Opgaard and was followed by a leisurely lunch break and then a process art class taught by Pamela Hochstetter.

I would have thought that 3 hours of yoga would be more challenging then 2 1/2 hours of painting. But I discovered that process art is definitely a process. Our first assignments included painting with our non-dominant hand, painting with both hands at once and finger painting. All fairly straightforward assignments, but on another level,  for me anyway, very difficult.

One of the participants asked if it was OK for her to sing. Pamela said she preferred the room be silent so that each participant could be fully present with their own process. I felt as if I would have liked to ask if it was OK for me to keen and wail. Something about putting color to paper using my non-dominant hand, or trying to use both hands at once (much more challenging than you think) felt like an “opening up” on such a level that it was far too frightening to be with a group of people. The tears were right at the surface and while I could see people around me totally getting into their artwork; with hands and fingers and toes, I felt as if I was locked in an invisible box and could only swirl the paintbrush around in curves and lines and circles, following some internal pattern, some structure that only I could see.

I will look again at the paintings I created and see if they have more to tell me. For cracking open the shell of your creativity, I don’t think there is a more accessible tool than Process Art. For me, however, I think a solitary session/art practice would be a better option.

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