Distractions, Abstractions and Spontaneity

Abstract art expresses connection with your subconscious feelings and perceptions;  abstract art  is the visual result of exploring deep emotions. When you manifest the courage it takes to leave your comfort zone, face down fear and explore the unknown, you can use spontaneity as a conduit to creativity.

The aim of art is to represent not the outward appearance of things, but their inward significance. — Aristotle

Courage Trumps Fear

Anything you have become attached to or adverse to will create fear. Taking the baby steps required to detach or suspend attachments and aversions is a challenge. Overcoming them one at a time is a painful journey and paradoxically, when you have arrived you find you are in the middle of nowhere.  This unexpected destination, this nowhere is the best place in your world you can ever be, but you will never experience that truth unless you are willing to take the first step to go beyond the prison walls in your mind.

We aren’t just eyes; we have memories, feelings. Emotional content is what makes life whole, and a lot of abstraction has no connection with people. — Mark Adams

You pick up your brush and without planning or thinking it through you begin depicting the your world and your experience of it on canvas.  Bold as brass feelings depicted in primary colors and large well-defined shapes and spaces.  Nuances of overlapping  and leftover emotions sparked by larger than life events expressed in complementary colors weave in their part of the story.  Divergent colors and shapes emerge, collide and consume and subsume.  Slowly your brush begins to depict a broiling stew of  subtle emotions or a placid lake of devotional quietude.  As you go deeper, as you tell your story on canvas, you lose self-consciousness and experience creativity in the flow.

I paint my own reality. The only thing I know is that I paint because I need to, and I paint whatever passes through my head without any other consideration. — Frida Kahlo

Abstractions Flow

As you feel more comfortable with the unknown the brush flows more quickly and surely revealing what you think, perceive, experience, feel,  fear and value. Everything you produce has a fresh quality to it.  Much will be begin strangely not only in terms of style but also in terms of colors, designs, shapes and sizes.  There’s no guarantee you will like even a single piece, but it’s your truth revealed and there’s a sense of ownership that honors the creation.  When your nattering monkey mind starts playing games you can easily laugh them off and paint on. These art therapy canvases won’t be on public display; you needn’t worry about being perceived as a social misfit. These paintings  by you are for you –  alone.

Abstract artists tell their stories with shapes, color, edges, movement, and value – just like when one is painting a beautiful scene. The difference is, of course, there is no scene. The scene is within the artist. I often get asked, ‘How do you know when you are done?’ I am done when the story is told. — Gwen Fox

Diving Down the Rabbit Hole

Time passes, canvases covered with your stories speak volumes from the dusty corners you tucked them into. You feel the increasing need to become further detached from what you learned —  from what you thought art is.  Fear decreases and eventually ceases.  Every day you boldly dive down the mysterious rabbit hole and enter the realm of spontaneous abstract painting with an alleluia!

Quotation credit: The Painter’s Keys

Related posts found in this blog:
Beyond Fear: Creativity
Art Therapy: Abstract Painting
Art Therapy Abstracts: The Depths
Tim Ferris: Smash fear, Learn anything
Constructive approaches to conquering fear of rejection


  1. Hi TT,

    Great timely post.
    I personally have recently found encouragement in the art of healing, that is Art Therapy, through jewellery making. I love the bliss of composition through colour and the various types of beads etc… it takes my mind to the right place: Peace.
    But I tend to get distracted in the sense that I’m always thinking of other project areas to give it a try as well… like Watercolour, Collage… never fully accomplishing anything really or serious. Perhaps it’s not meant to be serious, otherwise I wouldn’t call it Art Therapy. Nevertheless I feel I need to practice Discipline.

    All the best and love to you,

    • Hi there,
      Jewelery making sounds very creative. I’ve only fooled around with some beading. I like collage and watercolor painting too but haven’t done any recently. I believe that creativity always results in art and creative self-expression through art is therapeutic. Whether we recognize it as therapeutic or not is another matter.
      Love to you too

  2. Hey, is this your art it is amazing! I argree with the first comment. I think the best art is formed by breaking the walls and going outside your comfort zone, maybe even doing the unnatural. Lately, I have been letting go and trying to explore my imagination.

    • Hi William,
      Provided being different doesn’t hurt you or anyone else, dare to be different is a good motto. I’m an eccentric person and I have always pushed the boundaries and limits — my own and those imposed by family, society, religion, etc. I’m so glad I did because I found the real me when I did that. The real me is quite zany. Granted she introverted but she’s not in the least shy. She’s relies strongly on her intuition and it has always served her well. The real me is an imaginative and self entertaining person who doesn’t require a lot of social interaction. She’s a singing, dancing, artistic, wise-cracking diva who puts on her own private show and I’m liking her a lot these days.

  3. Rather amusing description of your art debris burning. But yes, it’s debris unless it’s properly recycled into something more meaningful. I have a few of those…across 2 cities.

    Might be awhile until canvas piece reveal. There will be a preliminary mountain trip area blog post to get reader prepared.

    I did a leaded stained glass art piece that was over 30 lbs. I even named it and liked it but the lead channels were warped. I could not justify the effort of moving it from Toronto to Vancouver. So I left it in the garbage. It would have been a huge effort to hang it safely and in my opinion, not worth the house reno cost for installation of an amateur, imperfect and dangerously heavy piece. I just have a photo….which I would have to scan it for computer memory.

    • The burning canvases was a freeing experience that I intend to repeat if and when I need to. The canvases I burned were all depicting my memory of traumatic experiences. Did you know that we don’t actually recall the actual incidents themselves? Sure we recall the scenes and sequence of events but what primarily sticks in our memory is our emotional experience of the incident. Each time we remember it we are recalling our last emotionally charged recollection of it, and as we repeat the recollection our emotions can be changed. I recalled some awful events over and over and by expressing them over and over on canvas I removed the emotional charge from the incident. I felt free of the misery I previously clung to when I saw those emotions in canvas going up in smoke.

      • Wow, I haven’t used art in that kind of way. Or maybe I’m not seeing my own amateurish stuff correctly. I tend to do art to remind me of more pleasant stuff and sensations. And there’s much to try to capture of fleeting images and feelings on bike.

        • Previously I painted in very traditional Japanese sumi-e painting and Chinese brush painting styles. In art therapy I’ve used abstract art to express the negative as well as the positive.

  4. I just discovered you published this and I’ve been away this weekend in the Rockies. Coincidentally TiTi, 9 days ago I produced my lst abstract, multimedia painting after over 3 yrs. of doing no art. (It’s been alot of personal upheaval in last 2 yrs.). Not the greatest thing but I was pleased how certain parts came together when I seized the moment…and my art supplies.

    I didn’t know about abstract art and how to let loose until I took a course a few yrs. ago.

    I’ll feature this modest painting over the next months. I haven’t figured out when.. But it is strangely coincidental to read of your blog post when for me, something similar happened.

    • Jean,
      Aha! You are a painter. In fact we are all painters whether we have charged a brush and placed it on canvas or not. I’ll be interested to see your creation. T

      This weekend I breached another fear barrier. I had a deep seated fear that my art in some way defined me and explained me; without it I would be nothing. I have been clinging to keeping a cluttered pile of canvases for that reason and also because I harbored the notion of marketing them in the future. My friend and I discussed this and the next day she called to offer me an invitation. It was raining (finally) and she was having a burning. I joined her and we alternately tossed our art therapy canvases onto the blaze. One by one and celebrated their burning with shrieks, shouts, laughter, tears and hugs — lots of hugs. It was a strangely liberating experience.

      P.S. The words “The Rockies” trigger such wonderful memories for me. I do hope to make many more mountain memories though I can’t foresee when that will be now. I’ll surely be looking forward to your sharing your images and stories of that trip.

  5. Hi,
    I have enjoyed reading this post. In the same way an artist creates their vision through the medium of abstract paintings by overcoming fears, a poet, a writer does through words … breaking the prison walls of one’s mind is a the ultimate, and the hardest task of any artist.
    Thank you,

    • Hi Daniela,
      That’s so true. Creating boundaries in relationships with others is healthy but erecting prison walls in our minds and segmenting the various aspects of our “self” from others isn’t. I chipped away at mortar on a corner and caused a brick to fall — suddenly there was light and growth where darkness and stagnation had prevailed.

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