I’ve been a painter now for seventeen years. Through the years, I have developed a unique style that is intuitive, bold, layered and full of soul. As a rule, I never know what I’m going to paint before I start—allowing my paintings to emerge naturally and on their own time is an important part of my process. For many years, I considered becoming a full time painter to be the ultimate dream job. I held this dream as my goal and worked hard to live into the reality. Eventually, after many years of dedication, I reached my goal and was supporting myself entirely on the sales my artwork. Unfortunately, my “dream job” was not so dreamy after all. The daily reality was that I felt isolated working away in my studio alone, and with galleries handling most of my sales, I didn’t even know who was buying my work. I started craving something more—a deeper connection with people, a more collaborative experience and a sense of contributing to the world in a more meaningful way. I had no idea how to turn my life as a solo painter into a world where all these desires could be met.
Then one day, about two years ago, I got a call from a woman named Elizabeth. She asked me if I wanted to teach a painting workshop at an art retreat in New Hampshire. She thought other people would love to know how I created my lush layered paintings. Without hesitation, I said yes. A few months later, I found myself standing (nervously) in front of twenty eager women. They were ready to paint and I was their guide. I jumped in wholeheartedly and taught them as much as I could squeeze into that one-day workshop. I felt myself come alive with a new kind of energy as my students dipped their brush into their paint (some for the first time ever) and bravely started to make marks and move color around on their canvases. Many of the women had not painted since they were kids and all of them expressed a deep longing to create. After many layers of paint, they were amazed at the kinds of images that sprang to life on their canvases. I was amazed at what they created as well! This first workshop solidified my hunch that all people are artists if they allow themselves to be.
This first class was less than two years ago, and I realize now that it marked the beginning of a new chapter in my life. This chapter is dedicated to coaching and encouraging people to embrace their creativity with open arms. I believe the creative process should be a joyful one—a time for letting go of fear, embracing the unknown and opening up to a world of inspiration where anything is possible—and this is what I teach. It seems the world is ready for this kind of creative re-awakening as my workshops continue to be welcomed with great enthusiasm. Over the past two years, my passion for sharing this work has led me to write a book, Brave Intuitive Painting – Let Go! Be Bold! Unfold!, teach twenty or more workshops around the world and launch a five-week online course called, Bloom True. I currently have 625 students from over twenty-five countries taking the online course—people are ready to bloom!
Through the process of sharing my creative process with other people, I have witnessed the incredible transformational and healing powers inherent in the process. Over and over again, I meet people who feel stuck, frustrated or simply fearful of their own creative power. They often express a fear of starting because they believe they lack talent, a good enough idea or the techniques necessary to execute something worthy. But, the desire to create is there, and the desire is strong. I remind them that, in my class, the most important things are:
- Trusting in yourself and being patient with the process.
- Being open and willing to accept all possibilities in all moments.
- Being willing to change your mind and embrace the unknown.
- Listening to your heart and trusting your intuition.
So, we start with our eyes closed, painting with our fingers and moving our bodies to a song that evokes all sorts of emotions (Florence and the Machine is my current favorite for this exercise). I encourage my students to open up their senses—to really feel the canvas and the paint, to feel their bodies moving to the music and to let go entirely of what it looks like. Instead, we focus on what it feels like. From there, we continue to build up layers in different ways, always “working with what’s working” and bravely following our intuition. The results are amazing.
I believe it’s a deep human need to express without the use of words, but society has a way of dampening the creative spirit and convincing people that they are not artists. Knowing this, I hold the intention of lifting this burden and giving back the permission to create freely and from the heart. It’s the most satisfying work I have ever done—definitely a dream job.
Flora is an internationally celebrated painter, teacher, author and inspirationalist. Her vibrant paintings can be found in numerous galleries, in public spaces, on album covers and on a variety of unique licensed products found around the world. Flora combines eighteen years of professional painting experience with her background as a yoga instructor, massage therapist and lifelong joy seeker to infuse her teaching and painting style with a deep connection to body, mind and spirit. By honoring intuition and celebrating the present moment, Flora encourages her students to overcome fear and welcome joyful spontaneous expression back into the creative process. Her transformational approach to painting (and living) and has inspired thousands of people to “let go, be bold and unfold” as they step fearlessly into the creative process. Flora’s book, “Brave Intuitive Painting” will be released by Quarry Books in May, 2012. Flora splits her time between painting, teaching and traveling in colorful locations around the world and living among a community of artists in Portland, OR. To see Flora’s art, please visit www.florabowley.com. To find out more about her book, online courses and workshops, please visit www.braveintuitiveyou.com.