By Sandrine Denier – January 7, 2016

Play of painting focus

Lilaloka’s team wishes to share their knowledge and offer training to students and educators from all countries.

This December 2015, Sandrine Denier, co-funder of Lilaloka project, has been invited  to set up the first Play of Painting studio of Malaysia by the owner of the “Process painting studio” of Kuala Lumpur.

Over 2 weeks, Sandrine has  trained a team of 8 wonderful women to the theory and practice of the Play of Painting, Arno Stern concept (Paris,France).

At the end of this intensive training, Sandrine has been interviewed by a journalist of “The Star”, number 1 newspaper of Malaysia.

Enjoy this great article!


“Shut off from the busy street outside, and the blare of honks in late afternoon traffic, Sandrine Denier sits in a studio explaining an unorthodox approach to painting.

“The Play of Painting is different from the act of painting. The act of painting is for artists, and the Play of Painting is for everybody else,” says Denier. The Frenchwoman, dressed simply in white, is now based in India, and has been interested in the activity for a decade.

Denier taught French and drama in Auroville, India. But she was so taken by this concept of creative education that she travelled to Paris to study under its creator, French artist Arno Stern.

Stern introduced the revolutionary approach in the 1950s. Instead of harnessing technical skill to create art fit to hang in museums, the goal is for students to express themselves free of judgment and criticism.

“There is no teacher; there is a servant, someone who is there to facilitate your expression. There is no judgment, no competition, no correction,” Denier says. “What is happening on the paper is completely respected, without intervention of any kind.”

In the Process Painting Studio in Taman Tun Dr Ismail, Kuala Lumpur where Denier was invited to teach the Play of Painting late last year, the walls are a serene white, papered over with large paintings of spirals, landscapes, and abstract blocks of color. These are freestyle expressions, done in a safe space with 10 to 15 students of all ages; with each stroke of their paintbrushes, each blotchy dot or trailing curlicue, students embark on a voyage of self-discovery.

“When you’re a child, you spontaneously draw. You’ll take a pen and enjoy doing it for hours until you’re tired. This is about that,” Denier says. “It’s about reconnecting with your inner child, your inner joy. When you reconnect with this joy, it starts a transformative process.”

Denier contends that the Play of Painting is not art therapy; if anything, it prevents the need for therapy. In theory, a child who begins the Play of Painting early on has no need for therapy later on. When students become more emotionally attuned through their painting, they are naturally more confident and expressive.

“You become more confident; you gain a lot of self-confidence. You become a creative person. It gives a lot of joy, a lot of pleasure. But it’s not therapy, because you don’t have to be sick to do it. It’s for everyone. You can continue for life.”

She says that the Play of Painting is not just for children, but for adults as well. In a mixed-age setting, lasting for an hour to one-and-a-half hours, painters can engage with one another and their work. The table palette, a row of 18 pots of paint running down the centre of the studio, is a “collective space”, while the “paper is a private space.”

As adults and children choose the paints and brushes they need, steadily filling in their canvasses with swathes of colour, they are cocooned from the world and the critique of others. These paintings, which can be worked on for months at a stretch, are not meant for the discerning eyes of an audience. In fact, they never leave the studio.

The group dynamic is vital, because it teaches painters to connect with others non-competitively. Adults are a calming influence; children bring spontaneity. Both teach the other something new.

“As an adult, you cannot compare yourself to a three-year-old!” Denier remarks.

“For children, most of the time when they come to the Play of Painting sessions, they are so happy to reconnect with their spontaneity. Their creativity flows.”

Parents are discouraged from seeing their children’s work; the point is to allow creativity free rein, not to stifle it with self-consciousness. To achieve that, parents shouldn’t be in the same sessions as their children.

The Process Painting Studio is the first of its kind in the country to have the Play of Painting sessions. Well established in Europe, the playful approach to painting has yet to make a mark in Asia. However, this year the Process Painting Studio plans to run 10-week sessions over the course of the year, open to all.

“It’s a very joyful process,” Denier promises.

For more information, please visit

Play of painting image 3 stars to come