Painting Article – Unleash Your Emotional Creativity

I wrote this article several years ago 🙂 but it is still just as true today as it was then 🙂 .. I hope you enjoy it and that it helps you in your daily life!

I was reminded of my article .. last night .. when I discovered an article on Facebook – Why Creative People Sometimes Make No Sense – which is about a book by –  Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi – Creativity: Flow and the Psychology of Discovery and Invention – 🙂 .. I plan to get and read this book 🙂

Abstract White Flower
  1. Emotional painting requires giving yourself “permission” to have fun in doing something differently than you normally do in your artistic work.

It also requires silencing the technical expertise critic in yourself while experimenting.

Do something completely opposite to the way you normally work – give yourself challenges to resolve, such as:

  1. an oil painter creating a pastel pencil drawing or
  2.  IF you are a stickler for planning, detailed sketches with months to do a finished painting – do some wet-on-wet two hour timed “finished sketches”.

Also try these fun ideas too:

  • Visit a crowded shopping mall – eavesdrop snippets of strangers conversations – sketch or write down the pictures, impressions or feelings evoked.

Back in the studio: Think about the colors or lack of colors that you can tie to those fleeting impressions.

Mary’s buying a red prom dress – what shade of red did you see in your mind hearing that? Fire engine, brick, ruby or burgundy reds?

Start a painting based on that particular red and add colors from that starting point.


  • Go for a walk with your camera and sketchbook – look for interesting shapes – trees, buildings, clouds, people, animals – snap pictures – jot down notes of your feelings, moods, thoughts – notice how bright green reminds you of rain-soaked garden weeds or the shadows on the local store walls remind you of nightmare monsters.

Back in the studio: Pick a particular shade of green or shadow color and base the painting on that color and what it brought to mind.

  • Go to a sports event and notice the clothes colors worn by the spectators – hot pink halter tops with lime green capri pants or perhaps lemon yellow uniforms covered in brownish dirt/grass stains – notice the oddities and color clashing

Back in the studio: Build a “caricature” clashing color wheel – get out a box of childrens crayons at home and mosaic the clashing colors in splotches or shapes on a piece of paper with no planning .. then re-create the ones that evoke feelings – use your favorite working media – mine are oils on canvas aka Corel Painter on either the laptop or the tablet usually now in 2018.

  • Go to a local house paint store and get some paint chip samples of colors you do not usually use.

Back in the studio: Pull out one and base a painting in that color key entirely no matter what your subject – a portrait in lavendars, a landscape in oranges or a seascape in reds.

  • Finger-paint on a kitchen floor covered with newspaper – swirling bright colors around just to see the patterns emerge – if possible, do it with a small child – see through their eyes how finger-squiggles, careful brush or sponge painting an entire small hand in blue paint and nose-tips splotched with purple paint brings joy into your heart and new emotional intensity to your “serious” art work.


If you normally create portraits, create a landscape or seascape or do only one face feature such as an eye or an ear abstractly in the middle of a mountain or lake.

If you normally work in landscapes or seascapes, do some portrait caricatures of fantasy or stick people in splotches of color strewn about the canvas haphazardly.

Remember a time when art was only for fun and the sheer joy it brought to your life – not for a likeness – not for meaning or technical brilliance.

When you feel emotional .. sling color onto paper or canvas or in your digital paint software 🙂 and have fun!

Life Thorns

Barbara Burns

Senior Citizen / Artist working in watercolor, inks, digital pixels & fabric dyes with silk. I also have Vascular Dementia and am not able to work outside the home in the corporate world now. I started reading tarot cards as a very young child - a neighbor taught me when I was about 5 to 7 years of age. I started reading Oracle cards in my 30's.
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