Painting From the Source

September 14, 2013

by Aviva Gold (

The term “process painting” implies painting ( or drawing ) from intuition with no plan or goal. It is like playing freely with the paint, choosing colors, shapes, images, allowing the painting to unfold organically in ways you would not expect, …. directed from the unconscious, allowing the painting to change, get painted over, turned around and grow or shrink. “Organically” means, approaching the painting and the images as a living entity which has its own natural evolution and growth like a seed to a tree, and following its growth where it takes you. There is no right or wrong, no rules to follow or prescribed technique. You and the painting evolve as in nature as if following a genetic program.

Different from copying from nature, still life or doing portrait from life or photo, different from a preplanned picture or illustration, process paintings goal is to be with out an intellectual goal. The goal is to be in the moment and follow where the painting leads you. … and stay with it until there is a clear completion , visually and emotionally. The emotions and body sensations you experience in this full body engagement with paint is part of the process.  And different from Abstract painting, process painting allows and welcomes images to appear in their own dream like determination. Often the painter in process experiences some transformation from the experience. PP is practiced more for the evolutionary experience then for the final product. Process painting is practiced by self taught and professionally trained alike. Often people journal as the painting changes and unfolds.


There is a similar method called a Drawing (or painting) Marathon, often used in art schools to free up students.  In a drawing marathon, people will get together for a full day or longer and completely submerge them selves in drawing all day and night as long as they can, perhaps with rotating models or other subjects, till life as a reference point; drawing as much and as quickly as they can for as long as they can. The purpose being that people will loosen up and let go of limiting habits and allow inspiration and newly gained facile, freshness and comfort with the materials to enhance the creative process.

PAINTING FROM THE SOURCE method which I facilitate and train others to teach is based on a combination of process painting and painting marathon as described above with the addition but with the addition of  much more.

In the Source painting process we use tempera, water based paint which dries quickly (kindergarten paint) and paper. Some of the characteristics that distinguishes PFTS from generic “process painting” is that I encourage:

  1. People to stay in the same painting for the duration of time ( 1 day, a week end , often 5 days). There may be many layers and papers added on. Some people work on a painting with details for months.
  2. A sacred ritual and safe atmosphere, with an alter, opening prayer, …weave/invite the presence of The Sacred through candle lighting, opening and continuous prayer, sacred words, chants and sounds, presence of an alter, rituals, include awareness of current season, moon phase, and holidays etc.
  3. Safety/privacy, the personal sharing of heartfelt hopes/intentions from the process/painting experience. No comments about anyone’s process/painting.
  4. People  periodically allow the movements and sounds from their painting to come through them with the group witnessing or group participating. These embodiments, where the paintings over soul channels through your body and expresses its depths through your body, are profoundly transforming to the painter and the group.
  5. Viewing the unfolding process/painting as a great mystery with no analyzing or interpretation, always moving beyond a tempting story.
  6. Embracing and allowing uncomfortable images and colors to emerge and express their needs
  7. Opening up a dialog with the painting for and / or with images in the painting to receive guidance.
  8. Conduct Retreat in Nature and away from participants daily life if possible.
  9. The Tribal Experience; support, love and being witnessed by the group.
  10. Encourage painters to complete images, feet, fingers, roots, earth below, end of roads, source of river and all possible details.

Source painting has a more focused conception and purpose.

PURPOSE: The natural and ancient way to create authentic Art, is healing to the maker, viewer and community. Similar to meditation, yoga, trance dance, chanting, and dream tending, the Arts, (particularly spontaneous painting and drawing), are a potent and effective means to mystical revelatory states of consciousness with the bonus of a stirring visual record.  Source Painting taps into both the personal and collective flow of mysterious archetypical imagery which empowers, inspires and transforms the painter. The PFTS workshop is designed to aid contemporary people in reconnection with nature and the original Source of life, which in turn leads to practical benefits such as improved health, work, relationships and heart open practices for community and environmental sustainability. Creativity and sacred presence are the same.