Judgment as a Block of an Artistic Expression

During the last 12 months, my life has thrown some challenges in front of me, and I have become very interested in psychotherapy profession. My attendance at the Group Analysis Foundation is one of its many outcomes.

Group Analysis Foundation Course
It was the book by Robin Skynner and John Cleese titled “Families and how to survive them”, which I highly recommend by the way, which first made me aware of the
Institute of Group Analysis (IGA) in London. Robin Skynner was one of its founders, and since I fell in love with his book, I decided to give the group analysis a go too. Why not? Therefore I came here to get to know myself better and to decode groups, in which one might experience very positive feelings but also some mixed ones sometimes. I have been attending a 12-month Group Analysis Foundation course at the Institute of Group Analysis (IGA) in London for nearly a year now. Classes take place every Thursday afternoon at the Institute building, which is located in Swiss Cottage area. The first part of the class is theoretical and is made of a lecture on a given group analysis related topic. The second part of the class is practical and entails an experiential small group session. The group, of which I’m part of, is made of eight people, including the group analyst. I am now in the last stretch of this course, with only five weeks to go, so the group members have gotten to know each other quite well.

In that recent period, I turned into an artistic (kind of!) expression of my personal journey. I would often feel a need to paint, which, to my surprise, wouldn’t easily go away until I actually produced something, which reflected the picture in my head. Painting has been my major trend, which might be already evident for those who have read my previous blog posts.

Unexpected visualisations
One of the paintings was created following a recent somatic experiencing session led by my very favourite therapist, who really rocks. After that session, I had a vision, which was of key importance for me because of the meaning that it offers me (more on that in an upcoming post!). I didn’t really expect to see a sea in that session, and I was somewhat surprised that this was what I was picturing. However, I have already learnt in previous sessions that visions, which I resist the most, are the ones, which turn out to be the most powerful. And so it was the case this time as well. The vision of the sea remained with me after the session, and I needed to paint it. I also learnt that resisting painting it would only delay what needs to happen anyway.

The hidden power of the sea
At this point I need to state that I’m not very artistically talented and I simply do what I can, using the skills that I have. My last art class was in the primary school, to be frank. Hobby Craft store helps a lot, especially when they offer super cool products such as paints for stained glass. I fell in love with the idea of that paint at the spot and couldn’t return home without it. I love it because it is the kind of a thing that I couldn’t even dream of in my childhood so why not use the opportunity to catch up a little bit on the arty part of me in the adulthood! So I

painted the sea on a small canvas, using the stained glass painting technique. I wouldn’t call it easy because it takes quite some skill to paint the sea as it really looks and capture the dynamic nature of it. Nevertheless, I had a go and was quite pleased with an outcome.

The voice
The spooky thing happened on Wednesday night when I heard a voice telling me to take this painting with me to the Group Analysis class. Since I’ve also learnt to listen to that voice, I wrapped the painting and took it with me to London on Thursday afternoon. I wasn’t sure what I’m supposed to do with it so I waited to see how events develop. My last opportunity to discuss the painting arrived during the small group session. I wasn’t going to return home with it without sharing the painting with the group so I commenced by describing that weird feeling of mine, which told me to take the painting with me. I sent it around the room as I was describing the background to the painting.

Reactions to the painting
One person shared her excitement that I expressed myself this way and she really loved the idea and the painting. She was very supportive and it was lovely to receive this comment. Especially for a non-arty artist like me! The second person, a male attendee, shared something that stayed with me for the entire week ahead. He admitted that he didn’t initially say anything because he felt judgmental towards the painting. The judgment preventing artistic expression. Then he recalled that he also had a vision of a sea while recently sorting out belongings of his mother, who recently passed away. He remembered that it was like a ‘sea’ of items, that all had to be handled in some way. Some were big and heavy, others were small but were there in big amounts. He confessed that it crossed his mind to express his vision by painting, but he was judgmental towards himself because he wouldn’t know how to paint it. And here I am suddenly presenting him with my painting of the sea, entirely out of the blue! How spooky!

Jealous of the sea
He concluded that he first noticed his initial judgment of the painting. Interesting, he later noticed that he felt jealous that I painted the sea while he didn’t. I found it very touching that he realised that it was his judgment, which stopped him from even attempting to paint the sea. It was a big realisation for him but also for me. Only a week ago I wrote about how perfectionism (which translates into a massive judgment of self) and which stops from beautiful art being even released into the world. I now had a tangible confirmation of that fact right in front of me.

Lessons learnt
I left the class somewhat amazed. I was really pleased with the supportive comment, which I received. I also felt that the situation happened for a reason and it was quite clear that my male colleague was the beneficiary of it. I felt happy that I listened to the voice. I felt that I benefited as well. I didn’t want

anyone to feel jealous of my sea, but I found it interesting that it was the case even for a not-very-arty painting of mine. I also appreciated how much courage was needed to share such a personal and honest comment. It is not unusual for this person, and I value him a lot for his very pure soul, which he finds ways of expressing in the small group. It is often the case that when we allow ourselves to share what is on our mind in an unedited way, we can not only make the most significant impact on those around us but also be the most authentic selves.

Even a not-very-arty art can make an impact
The main takeaway from this situation, however, was the fact that even such an imperfect, not-very-arty art, no matter how childish or simple, can make an impact in the world. And this is the entire point of creating art in the first place! Had I allowed my perfectionism and judgment to persist and stop me, just like it did many times before, I would have never produced this painting. Had I never painted it, I would have never made an impact and learnt these lessons for myself. I consider it as a mission accomplished. I have yet another confirmation that the voice in my head is definitely worth listening to.

Can you relate? Have you ever felt like creating something but felt scared or uncertain or even judgemental of your own skills? Did you go ahead and created anyway? If so, what was the outcome and how did people react to your art? Perhaps you decided not to create, and if so, how did it feel for you?

 

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