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Natural Awakenings New York City

The Healing Power Behind The Creative Painting Process

Stewart Cubley was a year away from his Ph.D. in geophysics when he decided to drop what he was doing and follow his passion. He wasn’t sure what his future held, but he did know it would involve the spiritual, emotional and creative aspects he found lacking in the hard sciences. After a period of self-exploration, he discovered painting. But it was the process, not the finished product, which really inspired him. In 1976, he co-founded the Painting Experience as a small grass-roots endeavor. Since then, it has grown to touch the lives of thousands of people by enabling them to explore their creative process without judgment, as classes and workshops were designed to be free of comparison and evaluation.

“The basic philosophy of the work is free expression in the sense that it’s not traditional art school training,” explains Cubley. “The point is not the result, but the process itself, because we’re using painting to learn about the creative process.”

There’s no comparison, no model or theme and they don’t tell people what to paint—just hands-on experience of painting intuitively and an opportunity to embrace one’s own path. He and the facilitators help participants work through blocks and find a way to proceed—without telling them what to do. “It’s very healing because it’s custom-designed for you,” says Cubley. “When you stand in front of a white piece of paper and you don’t know what you’re going to do, you have to listen to your intuition. Your intuition is intelligent; it’s not just random or fantasy. It shows up for a reason and that reason, in a larger perspective, always has to with our own healing or growth as spiritual beings. It’s a matter of daring to follow that and then getting out of our own way.”

What that means for participants is endless possibilities meant to inspire, heal, challenge and/or transform. Through working with this process, many people have reported finding their way to a more courageous and meaningful participation in their lives. “I’ve had people tell me one weekend session is worth three years of therapy,” reports Cubley. In fact, the impact of process art tends to last and even increase over time because individuals tap into the power of their own creative spirit.

The beauty of the Painting Experience is that it doesn’t matter if participants have any art training or if it’s their first time picking up a brush since grade school—it’s accessible to a broad spectrum of individuals and their intentions.

“Many people come because they sense that they would like to get in touch with their own creative potential—and that can mean different things for different people,” explains Cubley. He says that for some, it has to do with painting itself. Others recognize that the tool of painting opens a door to possibility. “The creative process is universal; it doesn’t depend on the tool you are using,” he adds. “Working with painting, which is often very new for people, opens doors and frees you up. You realize how you’ve been inhibiting yourself in certain ways and how you can actually move on and move forward with more courage in whatever you’re doing in your life.”

The Painting Experience with Stewart Cubley will be in NYC at Tat Studio, 900 Broadway, from October 18 to 20.  For more information, call Marcia at 415-488-6880 or visit