Who are you and what inspires you today?
The first time I tried intuitive painting, my world exploded open. It was twenty years ago when I was twenty-seven, and I remember dipping the bristles into vivid blue pigment and smoothing them over a sheet of paper pinned to the wall. All I cared about was having the freedom to play! Not only that, I learned to ask questions that would give me unlimited permission to unleash my wild self and meet whatever was happening for me in the present.
What if I could take a risk?
What if it didn’t matter what it looked like?
What if there was nothing to lose?
The entire notion turned me on. I mean, what if I applied those same questions to my life?
Now, when it comes to my painting process, anything and everything is possible. It turned me on SO much I devoted myself studying the creativity principles and with that combined with my MA in counseling psychology I became a creativity expert to help others to become the artist of their own lives.
Please tell me a favorite story about your childhood? What positive life principle did you learn from your parents/caregivers - that still informs your life today?
When I was a kid I wanted to draw and express myself but I didn’t know what to do with the crayons. The colors were so beautiful I wanted to eat them. I sang and danced to records in my bedroom and wrote stories with my stuffed animals as characters. I believe that how we play and the imagination and inventiveness we invoke as children forms our purpose as adults. Now, I write and paint and create games. But ultimately, I believe that everything we do is creative:
The way we think.
The way we problem solve.
The way we make the most of our lives.
My goal in becoming a creativity expert was to guide people to know themselves better and create the life they’ve always envisioned.
Was there anything in your past that caused you pain, struggle or hardship? Share briefly if you feel comfortable.
I was pretty lonely as a child. I had a difficult relationship with my mother. I was adopted and so I was always looking for the place where I belonged even though I was given to a wonderful family who loved me very much. And I loved them. But there were always questions I had, places I searched for answers. And creativity seemed to be the safest experience to explore that.
If relevant describe a difficult event or circumstance in your childhood, teen or adult years that caused you to "act-out" or "act-in" in a detrimental way. How has your emotional pain been a wake-up call for growth?
When I was 13, I was raped. I certainly acted out after that. To overcome, acting and theater became my greatest passion and I got my BFA in theater. So much of my life has been about coming to know my own worth. To know I am loveable, wanted and enough. I can speak about the rape now with neutrality. I know it helped form me into the passionate, creative, expressive being I am today. Continuing to claim myself and overcome gave me an inner power I am proud of.
What is the main thing that you have needed to heal in your lifetime?
To stop searching for something outside of me and to come to know my own heart beating loudly inside me. To love myself and accept my humanness. And to know that being human truly is enough.
What is your greatest strength as a result of that healing?
I believe that meeting adversity and allowing myself to lean into the pain, to allow it onto my path gave me strength and compassion. That strength and compassion enabled me to understand what others are going through. The greatest result was how I came to love my big beautiful messy self and have tremendous empathy for others with their own flaws and messiness.
What is your favorite creative healing modality? What makes you feel alive, passionate and whole?
I spend 80% of my time writing now and 20% painting. I just finished a book, part memoir and part narrative non-fiction on how to live your most creative life. Writing about and teaching on the creative process gives me great joy. When I’m not writing I paint to stay in the flow of the creative process.
Please describe the details of your creative process and how it has evolved.
Painting is my greatest place for self-exploration, and that makes me very happy. There’s always one painting I’m working on, thumbtacked to the wall in my bedroom.
I paint like others journal. I probably have around 300 paintings catalogued in order of date underneath my bed. A friend said to me once, “You keep painting until your bed reaches the stars!” I’ve never forgotten that.
When I find I want to curl up into a ball & hide, take a long nap or rage or cry, I gently nudge myself to pick up my brush & meet the paper head on.
It’s cathartic, sure. But it’s more than that. For me, it’s like an active meditation—enabling me to wake up to life’s endless possibilities.
It doesn’t matter why a particular image wants to come through or what it signifies. I paint with wonder—just allowing my brush to take me in the direction it chooses. (After all, these paintings are less about me and more about me getting out of my own way, so that the current of creativity can come through.)
Without consciously trying, each image exposes the curves, swirls, and edges of my life.
Sometimes, monsters, knives and holes come in.
Sometimes flames, flowers and light go out.
Dipping my brush into paint & sliding the bristles across paper, I feel vibrant, alive and connected to something far greater than me.
Regardless of the images—dark or light—I feel energetic, awake, even high. What I hold in my perception becomes more vivid. I’m content, open, present, and need to do nothing more than meet color with paper.
Describe yourself as whole and healed. Who are you in your essence?
I am the designer of my dreams. I get to creatively mold and transform them to be whatever I want. I get to play, color, shape, sing loudly, dance, let go, dare with them. Because the greatest art is a truly LIVED life.
If the major healing theme of your life had a book or a movie title what would it be called?
How has your past pain informed your life purpose? How do you specifically want to contribute to life?
My goal is to ignite new ways to creatively help others re-invent their life. To shine big and bright and make the world a better place. I took my creative gifts, my pain and losses, my mess, my flaws, and my art . . . and turned them into a purpose and a passion. I want to give others the same permission.
What strength-based inspirational advice would you give someone who has similar challenges?
Dare to fail brilliantly.
Lynn Newman is a creativity expert with a Masters in Counseling Psychology and is the creator of & – ).