72 – The Power of Spontaneous Art
written by Jess Winnicki (Social Work/Art Therapy) on 03/02/21
“Out beyond ideas of wrong doing and right doing there is a field. I’ll meet you there.”
Today I would like to talk about and reflect on the process and power of spontaneous art making. In this podcast we will discuss what spontaneous art making means and how it can support us on our journeys. At the end of the podcast I will invite you to engage in this type of art making process.
I feel as though so much time has passed since the last time we recorded a podcast together, I had to look back and see when we last gathered together like this, and it was in mid November. When we were together last we were discussing the idea of eco-art therapy, connecting with nature and creating art in nature with natural materials. My hope is for those who listened to the last podcast that you were able to engage in nature in a new and creative way that served and supported you on your journey. In keeping with eco-art therapy and our connection with the land it is not only appropriate but part of the reconciliation journey that at this time I would like to acknowledge the land we are on today.
The following information was found on the web-site ‘Whose Land’:
As we engage in processes of reconciliation it is critical that land acknowledgements don’t become a token gesture. They are not meant to be static, scripted statements that every person must recite in exactly the same way. They are expressions of relationship, acknowledging not just the territory someone is on, but that person’s connection to that land based on knowledge that has been shared with them.
I acknowledge and appreciate my ever growing connection to the Assiniboine river. I have been enjoying connecting to this powerful moving force in its frozen form. I acknowledge that we are on Treaty 1 Territory, the traditional gathering place of the Anishinaabe, Cree, Oji-Cree, Dakota and Dene people and the traditional homeland of the Métis people. Every time we acknowledge this truth, we have an invitation and an opportunity to reflect on what we do and what we can do to make Manitoba a better place for everyone who lives here. I would also like to acknowledge that our drinking water in Winnipeg is sourced from Shoal Lake 40 First Nation. I invite you now to take a moment with us and explore spontaneous art making.
Spontaneous Art Making
What is Spontaneous Art Making?
This topic is one that I am very passionate about and have felt its transformative affects personally during my training at Kutenai Art Therapy Institute as well as in my current arts practice and work with clay. My thesis topic was also based around the power of integrating spontaneous art into a recovery group for women. There is power in expressing oneself and being in the flow of creativity, seeing what emerges.
As discussed in Carpendale (2009) ‘Create whatever you like. Express how it feels to be you. Enter into a responsive dialogue with your image. As art therapists we must learn to value the image in its own right’ (Carpendale, p. 84). The intention of spontaneous art is to know one’s self, to integrate aspects of self, to relax and release, and to give expression to feelings (Carpendale, 2009). Allowing the clients to freely create where they are at in the moment allows an opportunity to express emotions in new and transformative ways. When we can allow ourselves to be in the flow, without judgement or second guessing it, it can be surprising what emerges from our art.
In a recent conversation about the power of spontaneous art making with my clinical supervisor she suggested a book: Life, Paint, and Passion: Reclaiming the Magic of Spontaneous Expression by Michele Cassou and Stewart Cubley. I am going to share a few passages from this book, it will also be listed in the references section on the safe harbour web-page and my web-page. For me this book was a revelation, it was very easy to read and absorb but also was very inspiring, you can feel the passion the authors have for spontaneous art.
Something that I talk about often with my clients is the concept of the process as opposed to the final product. I am going to read a few passages from Cassou and Cubley’s book that really captures this idea. They talk about painting in this excerpt but what they are talking about applies to all forms of spontaneous creation.
“You don’t need a special gift in order to paint for process. You just need a brush. You don’t need another class, you don’t need another technique, you don’t need another idea. There is not any special state you have to be in. The important thing is to start; the rest will take care of itself” (Cassou & Cubley, 1995, p.5).
“To create is to move into the unknown – to move into the mystery of yourself, to have feeling, to awaken buried perceptions, to be alive and free without worrying about the result. But the mind is conditioned to think it wants a nice painting, a nice tree, beautiful scenery. No! Maybe you want monsters. Maybe you want chaos, maybe you want a mess. Maybe it will feel really good to paint an ugly painting. Maybe that would open your being much more than a masterpiece” (Cassou & Cubley, 1995, p.7).
“Painting for process is the visual equivalent of journal writing, done not for the sake of being seen or published, but purely for the telling itself. You may show your work or not show it – you leave that decision to the future. This is the purpose of painting for process.” (Cassou & Cubley, 1995, p.9).
Invitation for Exploration of Spontaneous Art Making
I would now like to invite you when you have the space and time to explore spontaneous art making. To sit with no plan in place, no pre conceived notions of what this process will or won’t be, simply an openness to the process. Trust your intuitive choices when it comes to what you are drawn to create with, there are no rules, no restrictions, only freedom. When you have completed your creation take time to sit with it, look at it, and reflect. Also honour the time you have set aside intentionally for yourself to create and be in the spontaneous flow of creativity.
Thank you for listening and being open to the process of spontaneous art making. If you have any questions please do no hesitate to contact me.
Wanting to close with a reminder that this time we are living in is a time of change, stretching edges, uncomfortable feelings, and also growth. Remember that everyday is a process and we bring different versions of ourself to each day / moment of the day.
Be gentle with yourself, strive for effort and intention as opposed to perfection.
Learn more and connect with Jessica Winnicki: https://safeharbourtherapy.com/team/jessica-winnicki-social-work-art-therapy-winnipeg/
Carpendale, M. (2011). A Traveler’s Guide to Art Therapy Supervision. Victoria, BC: Trafford Publishing. Cassou, M. & Cubley, S. (1995).
Life, Paint, and Passion: Reclaiming the Magic of Spontaneous Expression. New York, NY: Penguin Putnam Inc.