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Approaching the Blank Canvas Intuitively

I love to explore my Intuitive Soul with the creative process in art making. Being mindful in the process of painting from start to finish brings me refreshment and restoration, as well as renewal and energy.  I embrace my Intention, enjoy blissful play, let go of expectations, trust the journey in the pain, open up to authentic choice, and experience fruitful commitment and completion.

I often begin my creative process in a meditative prayer or intuitive reflection, recognizing it as a time of worship and healing, clearing and playful joy-finding. I seek Intuitive Soul Intention to help guide the process.

Embracing Intention

I have to admit.  I always feel a mixture of excitement, anticipation and apprehension when I am looking at a blank canvas, getting ready to start a new project.  I have learned that these emotions are all felt similarly in the body.  It is only when I tap into my Intuitive Soul, the sense of knowing my deep down Intention, that I am able to discern what I am feeling and turn it into action.

It does not matter if I am painting a very detailed portrait or wildlife watercolor, or if I am playing with mixed media, acrylics, or abstract design. I always feel down deep something stirring my soul with wonder, motivating me to take the first brush stroke. I am full of ideas at that moment.  A burst of colorful confidence comes forth and I make that decision to start. Intention is everything…and I want to have fun, and see beautiful colors become something on my blank canvas. I am open to what is to come.

Blissful Play

I decide to play with acrylic inks today, watercolor paper, and washes of water and ink on the white.  That feels fun, starting with warm color drops of ink in orange, red and yellow and a few drops of sap green on the blank canvas.  As I drop the ink on a wet paper, I watch them turn into what looks like a splash spidering out on the wetness. Touching intuitively each other as if to affectionately say, “Let’s play in the rain!”  And play they do!

Step 1-3

Step 1

I stay in the moment and watch them mingle with each other. Then I spread the first layer around with my brush until I get the affect that feels bright and fitting for the background of all that is to come.  I am beginning to notice, after blissful play, that I too want to play more, to have fun with this.

Step 2 and 3

Let the party begin!  My Intuition says, “Get out a toy to play with!” I immediately feel this energy that says this painting needs a wind spirit that can make a lot of cool squiggles and lines in bright colors.  So I get my plastic straw, and wet my paper again, drop some more ink in certain areas that I am wanting to see botanical-like elements.  I am noticing bliss again when I think about plantlike fingers that the ink can make if I use my very breath to move the paint around, not a brush.

Step 4-6

Step 4

Wow… now that is blissful play! So I play with the ink and straw for quite a few layers, with colors that seem to call my name, marine blue, sepia, dioxide purple, emerald green and brilliant yellow.  I splatter and play and blow through the straw untill my face feels like it will blow up!  Like a child…yes, like when I was a child. My Soul smiles.

Letting Go of Expectations

As I step back to take a bit of a rest, I notice that I am beginning to think of my painting as something happening…something is formulating in my mind.  But I let it dangle out there, just noticing, letting go of expectations, remembering to just have fun but let my intention be my guide again.  I stop and ask, “What is this painting bringing up in me…what am I noticing and thinking about?”  That again is getting in touch with my intuition.

Step 5

I notice myself thinking about how the painting seems to have the color of water as well as foliage with a bright sunny background.  I like this, it feels good to think that this is happening; the painting is taking some form.  Then I grab it…yes, that is what it is going to be. But I am not sure how it will get there.  I again let go of expectations. For a minute…anyway!

Trusting the Journey Even in the Pain

Oh no, I have to start making that happen…EEKS!  My inner critic begins to make slight gestures at me, saying, “You cannot make this look like a river bank, even though you want it to be…so just forget it.  You know you will just overdo it and keep going and make a mess instead.  Look at how muddy the colors look!  And also look at how dark that spot is!  It is ugly, Susan. You are going to ruin this painting and will have nothing to share at the Blank Canvas Blog Hop!”

Step 6

I have a choice now.  Trust my intuition and the creative process, or stop and listen to my criticism.  I am just scared I cannot do it, I say to myself.  What do I need right now to help me move forward?  I need to remember…the many times I have done what I call “rolling in the mud” when I paint a painting.  I have learned from that, that I must persevere and trust the creative process, my own intuition to help me get where I need to be.  I can either stop and throw this away (it is just paint and paper!) or I can push through the pain for lessons my creative soul will teach me.

I choose to persevere, and guess what…it turns to joy. My creative process mirrors life. I can do this. “So what, do it anyway!” I hear my rebellious child say.

Opening Up to Authentic Choice

I take that step. I begin to courageously open up to my authentic desire to make this painting into a little swatch of land with growing plants.  So simple…nothing magnificent.  That is all right, though, because if feels right down deep in my soul.  I take the risk and believe I will know the way to go.  This choice actually dictates how and where I put the ink drops now, how wet I get them, what direction I blow them in.  I am painting with a straw.  Wow, this is fun!

Step 7-9

Step 7

I choose also to use a brush with red and yellow ink splatters to make little flowers in the grasses. I am noticing the blessing of making something beautiful.  I am very near to the end of this painting, as it is coming together for me.  And I know that does not always happen so quickly!  This is very nice to trust myself like this.

Making a Commitment

Just like life, if I make a commitment to something, I can move toward the finish line with more confidence and motivation. So here I go…finding some simple ways to make this little botanical painting look like something special.

Step 8

And it hits me!  Using my imagination, I am now in my kayak swaying back and forth up close to the river bank.  I see little splashes hit the embankment, and in my mind I see them as iridescent blue, with lovely little white dots. I can tell that from the aqua ink that I dropped around the very bottom of the painting formed what looked like a bank. I took the risk and made the commitment to figure out how to bring water into this little kingdom of plants along the river bank.  There. The splashes are done.  I feel coolness with these blues and whites.  I feel refreshment as I look at this painting.


One of the hardest things to learn as an artist is knowing when my painting is finished.  Knowing when to stop is an art in itself, and also involves risk.  It takes courage to be done.

  • Is it enough or is it too much?
  • Do I like it just the way it is or does it need something else?
  • It sure has changed since I started.  Did I accomplish what I was thinking I would once I made a choice to commit?

Step 9

Yes, It is done.  I do not think it needs another thing.  Really. That feels excellent.  I usually have a really hard time with this…self-doubt.  What will others say about this?  It is hard to step back and look at my painting and see it the way others may see it.   I know what I see, what it felt like to paint it, what I have learned from the creative process of this particular painting.  I know that I like it.  And what else really matters?

Final Blank Canvas Image


I make it a practice to reflect on the creative process of each painting or art piece that I create. I learn so much about myself and my art work that way.  I learn about life.  I reflect because I believe that the creative process is so primal, so important for me, my clients, and my students to experience in life.  I have always said that my love for art-making will never be taken away from me.  It is my friend.  I am a better person because of the gift of creativity.  I reflect now with wonder, just like I felt when I started with my “blank canvas.”

  • This was a spiritual act of worship for me…bringing me close to purpose and Light
  • I learned something about my technique.  I can actually make a painting without using the brush as the primary tool of design and detail.  I can use the straw and my breath to make the lines go in the direction I want them to go.  I am getting better at this practice, using it with greater skill.  I love that.
  • I learned that I can paint something and finish it in a short time.  I can enjoy the experience just as much, playing and refining, starting and finishing.
  • I learned that I can complete something beautiful and feel extremely satisfied.
  • I can learn to trust myself with my skill level more and more, and am willing to take risks and see what happens.
  • I gained more courage, confidence and joy from this painting experience because I trusted my Intuition and followed my Intention.
  • I learned that all these things pertain to exactly where I am in my life and soul walk. Go figure! That can involve another deeper reflection time if I choose.

If you are an artist, or want to embrace more of the creative life, I encourage you to take a blank canvas or piece of art paper, notice yourself and how you go through the creative process. Being aware of the stages of creative process, you will hold the process more lightly.  Trust the brush, trust your breath and trust your Intuition.


Susan Miller Signature





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