Movement for Painters & Painting for Movers
Tuesday, December 16, 2014
by: Margot Schaal, GCFP

Section: Performers

One of my long-time fascinations is the variety of expression possible when paint on brush is brought to paper by different hands. Years ago when I took a Chinese Brush Painting class, we studied pine branches and plum blossoms; I found the differences between each student’s application of paint to be startling and refreshing. In the class I teach, "Movement for Painters and Painting for Movers" (MPPM), I use the starkness of black paint on paper to indicate and track the influence of movement in image making.

If you paint, make art, dance, or act, you walk through the world observing people/animals/plants/ buildings/machinery and how they relate in dimensional space. The experience of Feldenkrais® Awareness Through Movement® (ATM®) lessons lead into exploring paint, brush, and paper in MPPM. It’s a way to encourage creative activities to flow easily and spontaneously.  In class we do not focus on producing artwork, but rather on exploring this process: how your relationship to yourself through movement lessons extends to painting on paper.
It is encouraged by the premise of the Feldenkrais Method, that you are not learning the right way to move, but more possibilities in how to move/sense/think/feel.
For someone with no art experience, the subtle alterations of oneself from ATM lessons, when applied to painting can open a vast world of expression quickly. Self-knowledge developed during the lessons gives confidence that is applicable beyond one’s movements. It is encouraged by the premise of the Feldenkrais Method® of somatic education, that you are not learning the right way to move, but more possibilities in how to move/sense/think/feel. In our practice, each movement provides an opportunity for new discoveries, which helps relieve students of uncertainties in the next act – of putting marks on paper. Artists of every medium, including music, dance, and theater, can use this Method to stimulate their imagination and creative practice. Whether an artist is in a very productive period or is feeling stuck, this synthesis can free the process of creating to inspire new ways of working and new imagery to arise. For me, it’s like coming home - pure fun!

Try this: Sample lesson for Movement and Painting

5 minute drawing

draw the space around an object--an iron, a shoe, a basket, a bowl, any object

15-20 minute ATM

Throughout the lesson, go slowly to discover something new with each movement. Repeat each movement a few times to learn more about it, and do it more easily.

Lying on your back on the floor, sense your contact with the floor. Stand your feet and lift them, bringing your knees toward your chest, observing how your shape changes.

Stand your feet, interlace your hands behind your head to fully support the head and neck, and lift your head, exploring how the shape of your back changes as you bring your right elbow and right knee toward one another, not trying to touch them, but sensing the folding of your front, and accordion movements of your ribs. Is it easier to inhale or exhale as you lift your head? Let each movement be easier.

Bring your left elbow and right knee toward one another. How does the shape of your back change? The shape of your front?

Rest and observe differences in how you are lying.

Try this movement in the direction of your left knee.

Lie on your side and bring the top elbow and knee toward one another and away, sensing the changes through your back and front, allowing your head to roll and upper body to soften into the movement. Rest on your back.

Lie on your other side; bring the top elbow and knee toward one another and away, sensing the folding and unfolding on this side. Rest on your back and notice your contact with the floor now, what has changed?

With this same quality of listening to yourself, slowly rise, sense yourself standing-sense your shape, your height, width. What do you notice about your back, your front? Do a tiny movement of folding and unfolding. Notice if all of you is part of this movement. Continue to sense yourself as you draw the object again. What happens?

Please write me with the results!

Margot’s pastels have been on exhibit at the Sonoma Holistic Center in Sonoma. She teaches in Petaluma and Sonoma, CA. Find out more at:
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