Windi White. Photo by Brett Villena.

What is intuitive painting?

Intuitive painting is the art of letting go of the picture in your head of what you think art should look like or what your creativity should look like. I took different processes and methods I’ve learned along the way and morphed them into this practice.

To me, it’s all about not believing the itty-bitty shitty committee in your head. Intuitive painting is a process of meditation and breathing exercises. It is exercising your ability to let go by turning on some music and doing some free drawing to the music.

It’s just pen to paper—to go fast, go slow, change hands—to kind of let go of controlling each motion of the pen or the paintbrush and just seeing what comes of it. In my painting I use a lot of gel mediums to build up a lot of texture and layer that gel and paint in multiple layers, so by the time I’m done the painting is revealed from beneath—the actual picture. 

That process teaches how to pause and walk away when something’s not working, or how to dig in a little bit deeper. And most importantly, not seeing an end goal of what it should look like but just enjoying the process.

When I’ve been able to give these workshops—it’s amazing. To see the [students’] transformation happen in the moment, it’s being able to provide that medium for them to express themselves and work through some of those issues. 

What role has art played in your recovery?

Growing up, I always wanted to be an artist, but when I got older I started to let that itty-bitty shitty committee in my head tell me I wasn’t good enough. 

Fast-forward through 20 years and a roller coaster in my own addiction—I got sober when I was 40, and all of a sudden I really needed something to do different from what my nightly routine was. So, in an act of desperation, I started painting again. 

This time I didn’t care what it looked like. I just needed to be busy, and that’s where I really found peace, acceptance, and my own authentic voice in my creativity because I just let it all go. I stopped listening to that voice in my head. I just kept painting, canvas after canvas after canvas. 

That’s really where I found that peace and comfort and changed my whole pattern. In the evenings, instead of opening up that bottle of wine, or two or three, it was work on a painting.

That really helped me grow in my recovery, grow in my art. When I came into my own with the whole intuitive painting process, other people started reaching out and asking if I did art lessons and if I would be willing to teach. 

From there, I was able to develop a workshop and provide intuitive painting to other people in recovery. 

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