Training with Arno Stern in Paris, France


Imagine a place, sparkling with the colour, where you can paint to your heart’s content, without any fear of judgement…  

Honed by 95 year old Paris-based artist, pedagogue, philosopher, writer and scientist Arno Stern over a period of more than 70 years and adopted by practitioners around the world, this special 10 day training session was attended by more than 30 educators, artists, psychologists, therapists and other interested people from all over France, Germany, Belgium, Switzerland… to the Canary Islands, Chile, the USA, Colombia and… Singapore;-)

Painting-play provides an opportunity for self-expression in a safe and stimulating space, known as the Closlieu (Kloh-lyeuh). It provides an opportunity for play and flow. It provides a framework within which the player has agency and is empowered in the natural evolution of their skills and potential. 

There are no losers in The Painting Game. Each player is the hero in their own individual and infinite painted “game” – acted out in the presence of others, in solidarity, not competition. 

As with any game, there are rules – the most important being NO JUDGEMENT. (Players must not comment on or judge their own painting or that of anyone else in the room.)

Over years of bearing witness to the paintings created in his Closlieu in Paris, France, Arno Stern began to notice a commonality; a shared visual language in the work of the young and uninhibited painters. His curiosity drove him to study the drawings and paintings of un-schooled (therefore naturally expressive) young and older people in Guatemala, Mexico, Peru, New Guinea, Afghanistan, Mauritania, Ethiopia and Niger. The results were unequivocal: there exists an underlying visual “formulation” shared by all humans, which underpins all of our spontaneous, uninhibited mark-making. The “formulation” consists of 70 distinct figures and spaces, which he showed in literally hundreds of examples. Quite an astounding discovery and a life-changing concept for us all! I was impressed and inspired by Arno Stern’s dynamism and vitality, which seemed in direct correlation to his passion for his work.

We were also treated to a conference by Arno’s son, André Stern, who was famously “unschooled” and is now a best-selling author and musician among other talents and projects. He is well known for his books, TEDx talks and conferences on the importance of enthusiasm and play.

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