Monday, June 27, 2016

Self Discovery and the Artist

Crystalline Energy and the Blooming Century Plants,
Acrylic on Birch Panel, 12 x 24 inches,
Copyright 2016 Mary Gravelle

Painting is self-discovery. Every good artist paints what he is.

–Jackson Pollock

Art teaches nothing, except the significance of life.
–Michael Korda

I have heard and read of many artists who came to make art because they wanted to discover more about themselves and the world around them. Or, they may have come to the process of making art or other creative outlets such as music or dance for the much needed emotional outlet that it delivers.

I came to painting from a place of emotional outlet. I didn't realize this until after I completed my first painting. It was that first experience that felt so exhilarating and freeing that sent me on a path of helping others do the same through painting. The workshop went through various stages and names. Now, it is called Wisdom Painting.

A Self-Discovery Reflection Back to the Artist

The practice of making art, reflects back to the artist, who they are. The choices they make along the journey of the process of creation is revealed in the final product. This process, however, is personal to the artist who created it. Layers upon layers of work went into the piece. Some layers are buried underneath and hidden from the viewer. Only the artist knows exactly what transpired during the process.

If a viewer is intuitive, they may be able to feel the vibe of the piece, the energy of the artist who made it. In this, then, that viewer may be able to discern the hidden layers. The art then becomes a process of self-discovery for the viewer as well. The viewer gazes over the piece and might try to imagine how the artist created it. This becomes a personal journey for the viewer.

Self-Discovery and the Artist

Are you an artist? What is your favorite medium? Do you find that you discover things about yourself through the process of making art? Are these discoveries made through your decisions and choices you make along the way of creating each piece? Do you discover different things or ideas in every piece that you create? Do you make art as a way of self-discovery? Or is self-discovery evident while you are creating or afterwards?

Ways to Use Your Art Making for Self-Discovery

Subject matter

What subject matter are your drawn to? What subject matter are your curious about? Are you creating from a sense of wanting to discover something about yourself or about your subject matter? Perhaps the subject matter is your entry to self-discovery.

If you paint flowers, for instance, what about the flower intrigues you enough to paint it? Is this a reflection of your interior, the flowering within you? Is your life flowering in ways that you are aware of or could become more aware of now that you are painting flowers? Is it the beauty, the color, the unfolding growth? In answering some of these questions, you might be able to discover something about yourself consciously.

I also think that we don't have to dissect everything little thing for meaning. Sometimes the discovery is unconscious and yet, changes us somehow for the better.


Tune into your painting process and the choices that you make along the way. What are your choices of color, brush, materials, and painting substrate. What do each reveal to you about yourself and why you made those choices?


I have heard that the way we do one thing is the way we do all things. How do you approach your art making? Does this tell you anything about the way you live your life and how you approach life?

Immersive painting for self-discovery. 
Let it flow.

Paint for Flow and Creativity

Allow yourself to express creatively without judgement or planning ahead. Just show up to the paper or canvas. Quiet your mind and let go of all preconceived notions about what to paint. Just paint. Dip a brush into paint and let it do its thing. Just keep going at it. Don't stop when you think you are complete. This could simply be resistance to what wants to be revealed to you. Keep painting. You might want to continue this painting for a week, painting everyday on this same painting and allowing its discoveries to come to you. Keep a journal to write your learnings, observations, and epiphanies down.

Researching for this article, I happened up this interesting website on art and self-discovery. I don't think I used any of the material, but it's worth a visit.

Ways to View Visual Art for Self-Discovery

So, you are not an artist, but rather, an art patron, appreciator, or collector. You stand before a work of art in your home, a gallery, museum, or the artist's studio. Let yourself become curious about the painting.

You could imagine yourself being taken into the painting and becoming part of it. What is happening to your thoughts? What is happening in your body? Are certain areas of your body, such as your gut, or head, uneasy or tingling? Or maybe parts of your body feel joyous and delighted. Are certain emotions arising? These are clues about self-discovery.

What is this piece revealing to you? It's all about you at this point. The art is here for you. Allow it to take you on your very own personal journey of self-discovery.
Beneath the Surface, Acrylic on Canvas,
24 x 36 inches,
copyright 2016 Mary Gravelle.

What Do You Think?

Does any of this make sense to you? How do you use art making as a tool for self-discovery? What are your ideas on self-discovery through the art making process?

Are You Ready to Buy Art?

Are you ready to bring one or more of my paintings to your home or office? Email me at

Tips for Purchasing Fine Art

When it comes to purchasing fine art, buy a piece that you love. If you connect strongly with a work of art, go ahead and consider purchasing it. The joy and happiness that this original work of art will give you will be immeasurable.

Imagine a space in your home or office where it might fit. And ask yourself some questions such as:

  • Why do I like this piece?

  • What does it remind me of?

  • How do these colors make me feel?

  • Overall, how does this piece make me feel?

  • What location or room would this piece fit into?

  • Would it make a great gift for someone special?

  • About the Author

    Braylee Rush

    Braylee Rush (Mary Gravelle) is an artist, author, and creativity catalyst and consultant. She resides in Sedona, Arizona with her loving and efficient assistant, Sir Kitty. Her other websites and work are: Wisdom Painting for Self-Discovery, Igniting Your Intentions, Sedona Art Hikes, and Silver Graphic Design.

    Contact her today with commissions or requests for creative work, consultations, or one on one coaching sessions. She can help you delve into your creativity and come out with your own unique expression.


    Inquiries about this en plein air acrylic landscape painting can be made through the contact page.

    And, as always, I would love to hear from you. Please leave a comment below.
    Sir Kitty

    Until Next Week

    • Create art
    • Appreciate art
    • Buy art

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