The Paint Big, Live Big! Approach
Sacred space, beginners’ mind, and your unique voice
- I start with stillness. Sacred space is the secret sauce for everything that happens in the studio.
- Instead of learning technique, it’s all about beginner’s mind–being here and now.
- I bring in a body centered awareness that invites in your unique voice.
The Safe Zone
The main rule in my studio is this: No one criticizes or gives positive feedback to anyone else’s process or painting. In other words, no words of encouragement or praise. No “I like your painting”. (No “I don’t like your painting”) This rule applies to me as well. The space we create by not giving feedback like this is invaluable–so unusual in the world–and can be life changing…big time….
I have ways of helping you step into this nonjudgmental space with ease.
Imagine this: “You” time.
You will be deeply supported; but this is not a support group. No cross talking during check-ins. When you check-in, we listen. When others check-in, you listen. We go deep, but we always honor the space between people, the breath. This gives us a sense of safety and sacredness without enmeshment or merging. I NEED THIS and cherish this. This way of spending time together, on its own, changes lives.
I offer short meditations before painting sessions, encouraging people to come fully present before picking up the paintbrush. This helps us begin from a place of wholeness and not the endless good ideas of the left brain.
Dedicated painting time
While painting I ask that people don’t talk to each other; There’s always lunchtime for that. It’s a great feeling to be painting alongside someone else, sharing the moment, but in your own world.
“There is a field, I’ll meet you there.” *
I bring in inspired writings, from Mary Oliver to Rumi, David Whyte to Leonard Cohen , with the intention of waking up your right brain, opening beyond the rational and strategic, and expanding the physical, emotional and spiritual space you stand in. I also love to bring in a sense of the natural world and all of us being part of something bigger than ourselves.
I love music…..I play beautiful background music from a variety of cultures–vocal, instrumental, all kinds. I prefer music without the left brain stimulation of English words or dominant rhythms that mesmerize you. Ultimately I want to play music that doesn’t interfere with your own inner rhythms coming through.
I bring in simple body movement experiences to help us wake up more fully. Sometimes the day just screams—we’ve got to move! Nothing serious or strenuous here, all offered in the mood of play.
When we come together as group to paint, you can go places you just can’t go on your own. And I must say, it’s a great feeling– this body sense of “tribe”.
I might paint a circle and you might paint a fish.
Image Making and Nonobjective
Sometimes a recognizable image shows up, sometimes it doesn’t. Making a bold shape in the middle of the page can be as life affirming and expressive as painting a flower that makes you smile. Both experiences are completely legitimate in my eyes and can bring about a huge shift in self permission and personal freedom. Caveat: I never support you trying to make something “look like” what your head thinks it should look like– Now that’s a whole different conversation. Freedom is queen!
(note: The people who naturally and easily paint recognizable images often think they are missing something. Those who don’t paint images often feel they “can’t” and there is something wrong with them. I love to facilitate true appreciation for what is showing up)
The acrylic paints we use are made for layering, scratching and blending. –great for helping you move beyond the first thing on the page that you “like”. This helps you build visual depth and it also helps you dramatically change the painting over a course of hours and days.
This is another way I am quite different from other process painters: I completely support people losing an image they’ve been working on for hours if something new is wanting to emerge from the process. (This is a great coaching moment.)
Nuts and Bolts
I use liquid acrylics. They are so easy to paint with and so accessible–no forethought needed. You can mix the colors on your palette or directly on your painting as you go.
I use black saturated felt or unstretched canvas (white or black gessoed), depending on the event. Big pieces, often approximately 3’x4′. It is quite freeing to paint big.
I provide all painting tools–a wide variety of small, medium and large brushes, scrapers, drawing tools, rags, anything I can bring in–make-up sponges, for example, are fun to paint with.
Is this therapy or is this just about painting?
Both. I hold the door open to a wide spectrum here. One person may be in a deeply therapeutic process while another painter is challenging herself to be spontaneous. One person may be painting a nocturnal dream, while someone else is “playing” with mixing colors.
Paint Big, Live Big! .…..I have my own story of what this phrase means to me and of how I became a painter in the first place. On a whim I took a transformational painting workshop as a way of having a new experience–never having painted as an adult. (I had been a musician). I was encouraged by the teacher to “keep painting” and I did. And over time I began to notice something. I felt different in my skin. I started identifying change I wanted in my life; I stopped letting fear stop me from taking risks, no longer able to hide as much. I found courage in my life after finding it in my painting process. I got bigger as I kept painting “big”.
Since 2005 I have been inviting others to experience this in their own lives. And I have developed my own approach to intuitive painting that is especially fine tuned to help you find your own way with paint, your own voice; I’m not at all interested in having you paint like me. You won’t get burdened by technical information or painterly distinctions here. You might even find yourself prioritizing the painting process over any finished product.
There is a world of instinct and intuition waiting within–is it time?
“Julie’s studio is like a sanctuary for me. She facilitates her workshops with artfulness, humor and sensitivity. She provides a safe and welcoming environment into which I am able to explore, experiment, challenge my inner critic, and enter a creative flow. I am often surprised and delighted with what I am able to paint, as well as, what I learn about myself. She helps me connect with a feeling of playfulness and spontaneity in my art work which often leads to taking new risks. Julie is very talented at helping people break through difficult moments in their process to arrive at new and exciting levels of awareness. She possesses a depth of insight and attunement that is powerful, resonant and transformative. Since beginning to work with her I have felt more creatively free, confident and inspired. I would highly recommend Julie’s workshops or coaching, be it the seasoned professional artist or the novice or someone wanting to make a change in their lives.”Diana Zumas