Monday, August 1, 2011
One of the biggest internal obstacles to reclaiming our power is a potent archetype at work in most women's psyches that can be called the Inner Good Girl. The Good Girl lives for approval and she garners that approval by keeping women small and safe and non-threatening. She is not interested in growing up and is content to remain eternally young. Ultimately, she is the one that keeps a woman from being able to develop and flourish as someone who is strong and potent,gutsy and capable of taking authority over her own life. And the Good Girl never wants to risk being fat, selfish, ugly or bitchy.
These words have extremely negative connotations for a woman and have been used to denigrate and control us for a very long time.The charge around them is so intense that as soon as we hear them we throw up our hands, recoil into a place of shame, close our eyes and back away from them as if they were Kryptonite and we were Super Girl. Since we are unwilling to be curious and explore them, we never get to see that in actuality these four words describe very positive qualities and archetypal energies that we desperately need if we are going to be complete, whole, actualized and effective feminine creators of our own lives.
The women in my painting class know the rules of intuitive painting, one of which is that they are not to destroy anything or cover up what they have done just because they don't like it or have a negative reaction to it. They know what they are attempting here is an exercise in radical self acceptance which means embracing everything that comes out of them especially if it makes them uncomfortable because there's "gold in them thar hills" of the psyche that they can mine to great advantage if they are just willing to stay with the discomfort. But the urge to disavow the abomination of a perceived ugly painting by making it disappear can be overwhelming.
The mysterious stirrings of our soul, the needs of our hearts, the messages from our bodies,and the genius of our intuition, are STILL, even after all of the battles for liberation that we have fought, denigrated and considered trivial and unimportant, unrealistic and immature. But in the world of the process arts the realm of psyche and dreams, imagination and feelings are staunchly defended as sacrosanct and even given center stage.
This road is difficult for most women, because even though many of us have done some kind of self investigation and recognize the value inherent in that search, we are still fighting an uphill battle against a very strong cultural bias that teaches us to place the greatest value on what is outside of us. We are taught that feelings and an inner life are fine as far as they go, but what is truly worthwhile is how we look, what we own, who we know, and where we find ourselves on the economic and status hierarchy.
This is a class in what's known as intuitive painting or process painting. The purpose of this kind of painting is to learn to listen deeply to yourself and to then courageously express what you find,without censoring anything,in a spirit of spontaneity, surrendering to the creative process.It's very different from typical art classes where the primary focus is on developing technique and ending up with a pleasing product. This type of class uses art and painting as a way to get more in touch with the inner world of soul and psyche. The focus is exclusively on exploring and expressing that internal process.
I'm standing in my studio, watching ten women painting in silence with exquisite focus and concentration, and the energy is just humming. All of a sudden I hear a groan from one of the women and the words "Oh no, I hate it. It's so ugly". I smile, feeling a sense of great relief and dread.
Relief because another woman has just blindly stumbled into her gateway to creative freedom. Dread because I know the resistance and arguments I am going to be coming up against as I try to talk her out of destroying what she deems ugly and to even to begin to take the radical step of accepting what she has created with curiosity and compassion. I have to be quick here because women are nothing if not stealthy and crafty and will waste little time in eradicating the evidence of what they consider unattractive art.
This is another body painting festival that showcases simply stunning artists and finished work. The quality of the art here is similar to that seen at the World Body Painting Festival. The Festival is themed from year to year, with the recent theme being "It's A Jungle Out There." Also includes the Canadian Body Painting Championships.
This festival includes some of the most stunning professional body painting to be seen in the world today. A 3 day program includes dance, music and fireworks displays, as well as many competitions. Many of the body paintings here should fall under the category of 'fine art' with some of the dancers body paintings simply defying belief
Dragonmen, Alien Mermaids, Fantastic Fire Dancers, Barebacked Santas, and even a Painted Labrador Retriever; you can see all these and more at the fantastic body painting festivals now occurring annually around the world.
There is a wide range of body painting festivals today. All include painted bodies, of course, and all include some kind of competitions; however there is a quite a range of skills and size among the different festivals, and some are more 'family friendly' than others.
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