The 'Closlieu' (= closed, protective space)

"The Closlieu is a place where the personality is allowed to
unfold and expand to unconceivable dimensions and be freed
of everything which isn't genuine: like outer influences, adapting 
constantly to them, which restrict and limit it (the personality).
In those exceptional moments the person gets the chance to 
experience purely oneself.

Arno Stern [free translation by Malort Kreuzberg-Neukölln]


Painting in the Closlieu - A Journey  

Image you are entering this room...     

All 4 sides closed except for the door. Brown paper covering the walls, showing plenty of colorful, squarish traces, which came about by countless participants paintings of previous 'painting plays'. Tubelighs lighten up the room from above - bright as daylight.


You put your coat aside and choose one of the provided larger or smaller, white or tinted aprons and by putting it on you slip into another 'reality'.


The world outside disappears and loses it's grip. You dive in into the typical atmosphere of the Closlieu - a kind of Cocoon, a safe space which breathes playfulness and peace. It invites you to forget the day, the season, the weather and your daily routine. For 90 minutes all that becomes a dream and a space for curiosity and play opens up.


First you pick a sheet of paper and choose your preferred spot in the room when already the 'serving person' arrives to assist you with fixing the sheet on the wall. Like everybody else you let yourself be inspired by one of the 18 colors in the middle of the room, pick up a brush and start playing with the trace it creates on the white paper.


The painting-play is an invitation to dive into your very own space which is represented by your sheet and to surrender to your playful impulses without any judgement.


Thoughts like 'What shall I paint?' may cross your mind. Many others had to gently push aside this thought and learn to trust into their own spontaneity, simply by dipping the brush into water and paint, to touch down somewhere on the sheet with an attitude of curiosity and openness and let the natural, shiny, colorful trace lead you along.


Now another unintended notion may move your hand, another color may draw your attention, which eventually leads to a play between intention and no-intention. You will see, this new 'play' with paint and brush will surprise you more and more in the following weeks and months and will grow into ever new ways of painting, of motifs and formations. The 'Painting-Play' will start to blossom and open up for you mannifold ways of capabilities and deep perceptions.


Picture this: everybody around you (is) painting. Small and large, old and young, quiet and timid ones, lively and cheeky ones, strangers and familiar ones...


Here somebody shouting: 'move my pin'!, which makes him wait
a moment for the serving person to come by, while she is still engaged in mixing two colors for another person. There the noise of a child hopping down from a stool on the way to dip in it's brush.
One person stands on the upper step of a ladder, painting a larger picture stretching out over several sheets. Another one is just about to start a new painting, holding up his sheet in anticipation, waiting as well for assistance.


Sometimes you could hear a needle falling - everybody in deep concentration. Then again the exchange of a few words, a talk between the participants may occur - about anything but the painting itself.


You aren't familiar with being assisted - as a matter of fact: served? Watch, how easily the little ones take to it! They thank it by playing (painting) sincerely. How easily they accept rules and roles, when communicated in a firm but gentle way. How respectfully they treat the materials, because it is trusted upon them. It is trusted that they can. Notice how witnessing everybody's doing within this special room makes comments and appreciation unnecessary.


Notice that you judge yourself and others less and less. That you feel more and more free and do not care about the opinion of others. You now can witness the others painting without feeling any envy or pride. In the end you can leave your painting behind, not only because it is a rule but because you feel fulfilled by the process itself, knowing that your painting is in good hands here in the Closlieu.


Perhaps you will want to continue with it next time and watch it grow in size. Perhaps you may want to start a fresh one?


In any case you can anticipate a new play, a new adventure to throw yourself into.


(*This 'journey' has been inspired by my own experience of the painting-play.)
Nana Mikolajczak


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