I was walking Maxie today and listening to an audiobook of Carl Jung’s “Modern Man in Search of a Soul.”
It is one of his early books and explores his pioneering work in psychotherapy. Jung was a student of Freud. Jung broke with Freud over a disagreement with Freud’s theories. Freud held that life had no meaning. If so, the pursuit of pleasure was the only logical choice. Jung believed the purpose of being as “individuation.” One should pursue one’s vision of the truth. By seeking the truth, humans could reach their fullest potential.
The book is a series of essays, speeches, and lectures on various topics of psychotherapy. What was particularly interesting to me was Jung’s use of painting with his patients.
Jung was an artist himself. His “Red Book” contains some of the weirdest images you will ever see – if you can find a copy of it. It includes many paintings Jung created from his explorations into his subconscious.
A Wikipedia article on Jung discusses his use of art as part of his therapy. Jung was a pioneer in the use of dream analysis. He believed his patients should recreate the images they saw in their dreams. He felt it could help them recover from trauma and emotional distress.
Jung realized there was more to art than recreation. Jung encouraged his patients to create paintings of what they saw in their dreams. His patients would often respond, “But I am no painter.”
Jung replied, “Neither are modern painters.” (The “Modern Art” movement began in the 1930’s.)
Jung went on to write that creating a painting was not a question of “the beautiful.” He felt art was more concerned with “the trouble” one took with the picture. To prove how little Jung’s use of art had to do with traditional art, he gave an example.
I saw recently in the case of a talented portraitist; she had to begin all over again with pitiably childish efforts—literally as if she had never had a brush in her hand. To paint what we see before us is a different matter from painting what we see within.
When I heard this statement, I realized why so many people have difficulty creating original paintings. Bill’s ability to create imaginary worlds on canvas seemed magical. It’s a different style of painting, though. It is not the same as looking at a photograph or even a live model.
This topic is one we’ll explore in an upcoming member workshop. We’ll examine why folks experience the same problem as the portraitist. We’ll look at why Bill didn’t have this problem. Finally, we’ll discuss how you can develop the skills you need to paint original artwork.
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