The Closlieu

A space designed to stimulate and protect the emergence of Formulation

How can the simple and beneficial play of painting be made accessible to all?
By creating conditions necessary to the surmounting of prejudices and inhibitions.

Everyone is capable, like a small child, of devoting him or herself to this play when it occurs in a space designed with that in mind. This space is the Closlieu (from the French clos, meaning enclosed or enclosure, and lieu, place).

The results of this play in the Closlieu are not works of art, to be regarded by others and meant to transmit a message, but a paper trace whose emergence, in and of itself, gives complete pleasure to the person who allows it to produce itself.

This paper trace, born of a spontaneous impulse – saved or rediscovered – does not belong to art, but to Formulation.

Arno Stern created the Closlieu fifty years ago. It is there – because the emission is freed of parasitic or reductive influences – that he encountered Formulation and was able to study it in all its originality.

Look at these images of the Closlieu. Imagine this space away from the pressures of everyday life. Imagine the meeting, in this space, of a dozen people who have unlearnt competition because it is their differences that are affirmed here – different ages, personalities, and origins. Finally, imagine an activity that has the virtues of play and the seriousness of a task on which all of a being’s faculties concentrate themselves!

Activity in the Closlieu is not therapy, but it prevents the need for therapy, in that it stimulates the capacities that allow individuals to realize themselves. It develops those specific abilities that have been stifled by culture and that make each individual, regardless of the moment at which he or she begins Formulation, a more accomplished person.


A Closlieu Servant

In order for the graphic act to occur, freed of all impediments, a practitioners stimulating presence is necessary. The practitioner neither teaches, nor judges, nor comments on the Trace. The practitioners role is that of a servant.

In order to fill this role, the practitioner must be familiar with the laws of Formulation. This knowledge protects the practitioner against astonishment, indiscretion, intervention, or monopolization. The Closlieu practitioner has acquired a respectful attitude towards the person and the person’s Trace.

The attention focused on the mechanics of Formulation deliberately excludes all interest in its content. Understanding its workings is a scientific process completely different from the interpretation of drawings.

Arno Stern, the leading practitioner of Creative Education, conducts seminars and training courses throughout the world. His books fill a need as much pedagogic as scientific.

Creative Education

A Profession, An Attitude

In creating the Closlieu, Arno Stern called its activity Creative Education“. He meant by this that the process, diametrically opposed to dependency conditioning, consisted of an initiation to individual autonomy. He stressed the fact that personal development is linked to social experience. Thus, activity in the Closlieu allows individuals to fulfill themselves among others rather than against them.

If the Closlieu is the cradle of Formulation, in that it stimulates and enhances it, the behavioral experience of those who come to paint there, in a diverse group, carries over significantly into everyday life.

The creative being is a balanced person, the contrary of an aggressive or desperate individual.

This is how the term “Creative Education” should be understood.