The retreat teachers were American painter Flora Bowley, British Book artist Rachel Hazell and British mixed media artist Priscilla Jones. I was booked in with Flora's painting class, where I spent an extraordinary 3 days learning to paint with acrylics the Flora Bowley way.
She has a really simple and fresh approach to painting, firstly she likes to acquaint you with a few basic principles/philosophies:
~ We are all artists already.
~ There are no mistakes.
~ Let go of expectations.
~ Focus on the process, not the final piece.
~ Allow the painting to emerge naturally through your own process of discovery.
~ Trust yourself.
~ Consider yourself a vessel for the unknown.
~ Loosen up, have fun, be playful. Don’t take yourself too seriouslyJ
~ Recognize “happy accidents.”
~ Feel the music! Paint to the music. Move your body.
~ Do something drastic/bold…more than once.
~ Allow your process to be SEEN. Let go of perfection.
~ Be authentic (true). Don’t force. Don’t copy.
~ Focus on what IS working and what IS fun for you. Let this inform the
rest of the painting.
~ Don’t be afraid to cover things up. You are making room for something even greater!
~ Use plenty of paint and build up many layers. This will make for a deep
~ Practice non-attachment by changing your course often along the way.
~ Use the techniques that work and leave the rest behind.
~ Breathe, stretch, and dance!
~ Walk away from your work often to get perspective.
~ “BE” the way you want your painting to look. Ie: bold, colorful, peaceful
~ Be easy on yourself!
~ Have fun!!!
This was my first introduction to painting with acrylics on canvas so it was a baptism of fire! However, Flora made it very simple and straightforward and so I no longer ever need to fear a blank canvass again! To get you started was easy enough and I still remember her saying "this is the time to reconnect to that 5 year old!" We took a couple of colours and dripped them onto the canvass, we sprayed water onto the paint and watched it transform into something lovely! Paint was oozing all around the canvas and I felt like I was back at school with paint, water and a straw!! BUT, that was the purpose of the exercise, to let go of all the inhibitions we carry as adults and just get FREE!! We were encouraged to use our hands to spread the paint around the canvas and even paint with our eyes closed to enable the free-flow, intuitive process.
Flora then introduced some specific techniques for applying the paint using foam brushes. We were encouraged to hold the brush loosely whilst listening to funky music to keep us loose and to use the whole arm, starting with the shoulder. We twirled the brush over the canvas, skipped, stamped, scrubbed - no limits (apart from our imagination)!
Here are some pictures (courtesy of Tara - Aquamarine) a talented artist from Brighton, go check out her blog.
Our Painting Tent
An example of skipping, swirling, twirling, smudging, wiggling - keeping it loose!
Working on the principle of using plenty of paint and building up many layers, we continued applying the paint, moving to the music, stopping for intermittent stretching breaks, until class finished for the day.
Here is what my canvas looked liked at the end of day 1:
More news from the live adventures of a Bloom True student to follow!............