Art Body Soul’s “Painting Out Loud” art workshop is meditation in action, and it’s the most relaxing painting class I’ve ever experienced.
Upon entering Art Body & Soul for the Painting Out Loud class, I immediately realized that it wasn’t going to be a typical recreational painting session. Art adorns the walls of the modest wellness studio and the atmosphere is cozy, warm, and inviting. The owner, who also serves as the facilitator for the class, greeted me and the other guests at the door, suggesting that we sign in before offering us coffee, water, or tea.
We were then escorted into the room where we would transform into artists for a couple of hours. The room was small, but spacious, allowing for at least a class of 15 participants. Makeshift easels line the walls of the room; and in the front, a small group of chairs is arranged in a neat circle. I would later find out that the collection of seats is known as the ‘opening circle’. It’s where participants gather around and introduce themselves before the facilitator reads a list of suggested rules. The guidelines are simple and respectful: work in silence, don’t comment on other’s work and paint intuitively.
I struggled a bit with the last suggestion, resulting in a painting that I was too ashamed to even bring home; but the other rules were easy and made for an extremely relaxing session. If only I could have gotten out of my head while I was painting. You would think it would have been an easy feat because of the 10-minute guided meditation that takes place before we begin creating. The purpose of the meditation is to get our minds relaxed and focused on positive energy before our brushes hit the paper.
Painting Out Loud uses a method known as process art. It’s an intuitive method of painting, calling for the artist to capture raw emotions and paint from their ‘internal landscape’. The goal is free expression, emphasizing the creative process–not technique, skill or training.
“We are a center of self-discovery. So the way you learn about yourself is to go inside. So when you paint from the inside-out, it’s about you and not the finished product. That’s what this is all about…self-discovery, exploration, and personal growth.” -Madeleine Newkirk, Art Body Soul, Founder
Despite my failed attempt at creating an abstract masterpiece (which isn’t the point of the class, anyway), I thoroughly enjoyed the session. Staying true to its purpose, Painting Out Loud really is about self-discovery; and during the moments when I allowed my mind to be at one with the brushes, I felt relaxed and at ease.
During the two-hour intuitive session, we were encouraged to take breaks and could even start on another piece if we were finished within the allotted time. Once the two hours were up, we all reconvened in the “closing circle” where we were encouraged to speak about what we’d learned about ourselves, painting, etc. After all, the class is about self-discovery. The circle was the perfect ending for the session, allowing us to reflect on our experiences while also connecting with the other participants.