paintings with a limited colour palette - original artwork by Julia Barnickle
paintings with a limited colour palette – original artwork by Julia Barnickle

Having got the idea of painting a series during Tara Leaver’s painting challenge last month, it occurred to me that I already have the beginnings of another series – two paintings I did with a limited colour palette: black, white and one or two colours (magenta pink for the first, and two shades of blue for the second).

So this week I started on a third painting in the series. using a bright green as my main colour. Somehow, though, things didn’t work out as I had hoped.

First of all, the paint didn’t spread as easily as before – and I didn’t like the look of the green paint with the black. So I added some yellow, and then drew a few lines in white, which dragged some of the black and green paint with them. Suddenly it started to look a bit like a woodland in Autumn – so I added some orange…

Autumn Woodland - original artwork by Julia Barnickle
“Autumn Woodland” – original artwork by Julia Barnickle

The thing I both love and hate about intuitive art is that you never know what to expect. You launch yourself into painting, without a plan, and see what happens. And although this fits in well with my “Taking Life As It Comes” philosophy, it’s hard to know whether the painting is finished.

If I were painting a bowl of fruit, or a vase of flowers, for example, I would know the painting was finished once I had included the various elements of the object I was representing. But with intuitive art, I’m not representing anything concrete.

According to Nancy Fletcher Cassell in Ten Tips for Intuitive Painting:
Intuitive or Process Painting allows individuals to travel a private path where they can uncover images of their inner selves through painting.

This is exactly why I started painting. To try to express inner feelings that I don’t know how to express in words. That’s why it’s a healing process.

However, I spent nearly 20 years working in what I would describe as a “binary” environment, in IT, where computer programs either work (= “finished”) or they don’t (= “unfinished”). There is no in-between. So at the moment I’m finding it difficult to know whether something is finished, based purely on aesthetics!

But as I write that sentence, I realise that it’s not about judging that something is finished. It’s about an instinctive knowing, rather than a rational knowing. So, if a painting feels finished, it is – whether or not it looks finished.

Story Sphere 1 - copyright Julia Barnickle
My first Story Sphere: “So Many Possibilities”

Last Friday I was introduced to another intuitive art process – Story Spheres – during a workshop at my local hospital, for people living with cancer.
(Find out more about Story Spheres at

A Story Sphere is a bit like a mandala. You start with a circle, and the idea is to draw how you’re feeling – either within the confines of the circle, or outside the lines. I decided to go outside the lines, to show that I’m a rebel at heart. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Ideally, we were supposed to write a sentence about how we were feeling at the time of drawing the Story Sphere – but I wasn’t really sure how I felt. Often there’s a disconnect between my emotional system and my rational brain!

I therefore concluded that my drawing (above) represented what’s going on in my brain right now – “so many possibilities” – which I know is a concept rather than an emotion, but there you go. Oh, and there always have been so many possibilities…

Breaking news:

When I returned home after the workshop I walked to the corner shop on my own – for the first time in four months – while Paul stood outside our house, keeping an eye on me. A giant leap for womankind!

And today I’ve had even better news. An MRI scan done last week shows no sign of the lesions that were on the brain in June – the report said it looks like a normal scan. So I’m feeling exceedingly happy right now. ๐Ÿ™‚

I wonder what that would look like as a Story Sphere?

2 thoughts on “Intuitive Art and Story Spheres

  1. Your green painting reminds me of the woods on Wimbledon Common- or Finland. I like it very much. The depths looking into the woods are there. For me, it’s whole and finished.

  2. Julia Barnickle

    Thank you Lynn. I had been thinking of doing more to it, but I’ll leave it in peace now! ๐Ÿ™‚

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