Thinking About Thinking…from stillness to spontaneity

I’ve found that anything that applies to painting also applies to life.

I’ve found that anything that applies to painting also applies to life. Anything that applies to life, applies to painting. No big surprise there!

This past weekend I was very fortunate to attend a retreat with the fabulous NIA instructor, Andrea Bell along with eleven other women, many of whom are also NIA instructors. We spent an amazing three day weekend at Brietenbush Hotsprings. We danced, meditated, soaked in the pools, read, ate and restored. Everything we did in the dance applied to my painting. It was amazing!

The dancing was fun and deep and joyful. Andrea made it a safe container, even amongst the women who didn’t know one another very well. I felt cared for and supported. It was also a challenging weekend for me. I don’t do cold very well! We hit a cold snap that dropped temps to the single digits making the short walks to the lodge, cabins and hot springs a bit chilly! The up side to the cold was the beauty of the snow laden landscape, the frost, the steam the stars!

photo by Kim Campbell


photo by Kim Campbell


photo by Kim Campbell


photo by Kim Campbell


photo by Kim Campbell

I was grateful to travel and room with a lovely new friend from Portland who just so happens to be a professional photographer! Kim Campbell. We had much in common to talk about as women business owners. She took these cool photos of Breitenbush and gave permission for me to post them. Thank you, Kim!

The weekend included a lot of introspection for me. Dancing is all about energy and expression of energy; knowing when to go big and when to go small. When your body needs to heal and when to push yourself a little to the edge. Painting is exactly the same; knowing when to go big, when to slow down and make smaller moves, when to push yourself in new directions to grow. Wow!

In my painting and in my life, I expend a lot of energy thinking about thinking. I roll things over and over and over in my head. This can be exhausting. This thinking about thinking causes me to sometimes hesitate and get stuck in both painting and stuck in other realms of my life. Over the weekend, we played with moving from stillness to action a lot. Working on “doing” spontaneously and organically is important to me. Learning not to expend lots of energy on the over-thinking and hesitating. Choosing well and going. Stillness to action.

This reminds me that I have a friend who decided to do a cleanse. He wanted to narrow his choices of what to eat or not to eat during his cleanse. He felt he was expending way too much energy, time and money on choices around food. By limiting choices, he was able to move through his day with much more ease and less hesitation. My Variation series was much the same. I narrowed my choices down…the same size and proportion, the same composition. I took away all but a few of the variables, thus giving myself more energy to explore and move spontaneously through the whole project.

One of the principles of NIA is Life as Art…beautiful!!! As always, happy painting!


2 Responses

  1. Hi Marla…sounds like that was an awesome weekend, and having done some intensive weekend dance modalities….mostly The 5 Rhythms, i know how deep you can go with movement. Gabrielle Roth once said….'the reach the stillness you have to "express" the chaos…i think that is the beauty of this type of movement as a meditation. Nia has a similar philosophy i think.

    how was your leg after the surgery etc…..i'm sure you had to find some different ways to move.

    nice reminder of the connection between painting and life…'s all one!

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