Michele Cassou, photo by Suzanne Christine
I left my letterpress class early to meet a rock star in the world of creative exploration using intuitive painting (also known as “process” painting, and in this case “Point Zero Painting
“). This is an area I’ve been exploring, since intuitive painting puts to words the method of painting I enjoy the most. It is more about the experience
of painting rather than the product of painting.
Now I had a chance to see and meet the pioneer of Point Zero Painting. She was giving a presentation at John F. Kennedy University’s Art & Consciousness Talks. Her introduction included what some people I admire have said about her:
“Michele Cassou is a catalytic visionary: a fuse lighter who sends people rocketing into their creativity,” said The Artist’s Way author, Julia Cameron.
“Michele Cassou offers a wise and profoundly creative inspiration for the liberation of the human spirit. Just the way lively music makes you want to get up and dance, this book makes you really want to get up and paint the fullness of your life,” said leading Buddhist teacher, Jack Kornfield.
Cassou has been praised by the American mythologist Joseph Campbell and the French painter and sculptor Jean Dubuffet.
Michele Cassou at JFK University
Needless to say, the introduction made me even more eager to hear what she had to say. She stood with a large projection screen above her and spoke passionately about her journey to and through what is known as “process painting.”
I took notes throughout her talk since just about every sentence resonated with me.
Cassou was born in Marseille, France. She started making art as a kid. She had formal art training but had given up studying art because her last art teacher said “Do something else, painting is not for you!” (from p. xxi of “Life, Paint and Passion). A series of events put her in touch with the Free Expression Studio in Paris. There she had a profound ah ha moment watching the uninhibited children make art. “Sheltered from judgment, criticism, and competition, the children were giving themselves to the natural process of expression, to the pulse of creation.” (p. xxiii of “Life, Paint and Passion). It was there she found her true calling.
She spent three years painting with the children and learned to listen and explore freedom of creative expression. From there she started teaching small groups in her home. Now, several decades and thousands of paintings later, she continues her unteaching.
Point Zero Painting is based on the Point Zero Method. The method involves a self-questioning method that leads to that place of no judgment or limits within. It emphasizes painting for the process or experience of painting and enjoying it’s meditative qualities. It’s not about the end product. It is not about what you “should do.” It’s about becoming conscious and present.
Another characteristic about Point Zero Painting is there is a completion point to each painting. Only the painter knows when it’s finished.
Here’s my 10 favorite quotes from Cassou’s talk:
1) “When we listen to intuition there’s a connection we don’t know we have. Learn to unblock the places resisting freedom. It’s like going down the river, you’ll follow the current and the stream.”
2) “To be creative is to be completely without habits.”
3) “Creativity is a present energy passing through you. Give yourself a lot of space to be yourself.”
4) “Painting is meditation. You are left with no point of reference. You don’t have to copy anybody’s way. No comparison with anything. It is a very courageous thing to do.”
5) “If you follow your intuition, there’s always a next step. It’s always SAFE.”
Mary Gow's Intuitive Drawing Using "Harmonious" iPhone App
6) “The energy of the Universe is constantly wanting to pass through us!”
7) “Every time you create something there is a cycle . . . but you trust. We don’t paint what we are not ready to handle. There is a benevolent aspect of creation.”
8) “Whatever calls you, take it. Don’t feel like you have to cover the white paper. Every dot is precious.”
9) “It’s what has happened inside of you that is important. Not the product. Often it’s about changing our eyes. Your eyes change. You get more of a sense of what’s real. What is compromised.”
10) “Creativity works the same in every medium. It’s not the painting, it’s the process of creativity.”
You can find out more about Cassou’s work in her books among them: “Life Paint and Passion (co-authored with Stewart Cubley), “>Point Zero: Creativity Without Limits, Kid’s Play: Igniting Children’s Creativity, and Questions: To Awaken Your Creative Power to the Fullest. She also is holding Point Zero Painting workshops in Taos, Big Sur, and Cologne (Germany) between now and September 2012. For more information check Ms. Cassou’s website.
I left the talk feeling warm and validated and ready to unlearn.
You might also enjoy:
–3 Discoveries About Intuitive Painting
–3 Personal Reflections on the Hero’s Journey
–What Defines a “Real Artist”?