The Magic Of Expressing You In Your Art

The Magic Of Expressing YOU In Your Art | If you want to create raw, immediate and alive paintings that express YOU, yet find yourself struggling with your art, then this post is for you. Click through to find out how to finally express YOU in your art.
The Magic Of Expressing YOU In Your Art | If you want to create raw, immediate and alive paintings that express YOU, yet find yourself struggling with your art, this post is for you.

Your Truth Is Waiting To Be Released

There’s wisdom that lives in your body waiting to be released and seen by the world.

For abstract artists, these truths become visible through the magic of expressing you in your art through gestural expression.

Within you resides your personal signature, your own lexicon. It’s like your fingerprint or the architecture of your retinal blood vessels.

Your Artistic Expression Is Unique

In a sea of 7 billion people, there’s only one you that will ever exist. No one else has your body, your biochemistry, your family or your personal history.

The question is: Will you show us you in your paintings? Will you express you in your art?

I love this quote from Mary Oliver’s poem The Summer Day:

Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?

Extrapolating from Mary Oliver’s inquiry we might ask ourselves: What will I express in my art in the time I have left?

I believe that we each have deep wells of memories, feelings and experiences that are waiting to be expressed in our art- whether it be painting, sculpture, music, writing, dance, parenting or the art of living.

A Story

The other day, a new student in one of my courses wrote that she’d experienced a big aha.

She’d been struggling with self doubt for years. She wanted to create art that was expressive and alive yet she tended to second-guess herself.

She’d add layers upon layers of paint in an anxious attempt to create a winning painting. And the harder she tried, the more chaotic the painting appeared.

Her creative process was fraught. The specter of humiliation and failure loomed over her every time she picked up a paintbrush.

She felt resigned to her fate of fighting every painting.

Simplicity, Constraint & Experimentation

We were exploring the idea of bringing simplicity and constraint into experimental studies. A big part of this was the notion of letting go.

Letting go of:

  • perfectionism
  • trying too hard
  • trying to please others
  • using every color on your palette
  • covering every square inch of the canvas
  • thinking a painting has to take hours or days to call it “done”


Being perfectionistic and tending to over-complicate things, she grappled mightily with simplicity, constraint and letting go. It seemed anathema to her.

And yet one day, exhausted from another wrestling match with her painting, she defiantly exclaimed to herself: I’m going to simplify this one!


She challenged herself to work with the following constraints:

  • work small
  • use black, white and yellow ochre
  • work intuitively in a stream-of-consciousness fashion
  • allow a minimalist expression of a few marks and gestural expressions on each study
  • less is more
  • leave raw paper or canvas

Trust Your Gestural Expression

The idea was to trust her own gestural expression and allow for immediate, raw and alive works to emerge.

I wanted her to understand that:

  • The magic is in the “not knowing”
  • It’s a process of searching and finding your way as you create
  • Trusting yourself in your exploration is the way to your deepest work
  • It’s all experimentation

What emerged next was astonishing. The transformation of her work was nothing short of breathtaking.

They were absolutely stunning. There was a freshness and immediacy that brought her work alive.

This can happen for you too.

The magic is in trusting your gestural expression.

Much love from my studio to yours,


P.S. Read more posts like this on my blog. Please comment below and let me know what you think. I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Originally published at Nancy Hillis.