Cleaning out the studio, feeling the moment when brush will touch white surface again and mysteries will gently be revealed to the ‘observer’, today, however, ended in a bomb-fire of artworks that didn’t make the cut.
A liberating experience of turning art into ashes, watching a thirsty fire lick colour and form, expressing its delight in bursts of blasting heat and towering flames under a clear night sky, encouraging me to step back or join the revelry.
Hours of agonising decisions on colour and mark making: adding, subtracting, covering, and revealing. I remember struggling with it all and these artworks showed every nuance, hence had to go.
Some days seem to be full of pointers, don’t they? Today’s pointers were – remember and return to the truth of ‘who you are’.
My early morning was spent catching up on some emails and blogs, one of which is Dhamma Footsteps by Tiramit. It’s a wonderful series of postcards from a Scotsman living overseas in various parts of Asia. His awareness and sharing of the ordinariness of life brings a smile to heart. So I like to wait until I have the space, quiet and presence to read his latest post, which inevitably opens me into a new moment, an other world, and an awareness of life so richly immediate.
Today’s post ‘return to go’ was a sharing of being aware, being busy, being aware of being busy, and remembering to, as they say in the Monopoly game, return to go. Also beautifully pointed to by Tiramit in this poem from Liu Wemin:
To be able to be unhurried when hurried;
To be able not to slack off when relaxed;
To be able not to be frightened
And at a loss for what to do,
When frightened and at a loss;
This is the learning that returns us
To our natural state and transforms our lives.
[Liu Wemin, 16th Century]
The day moved forward and by late morning I was sitting at my desk with pen and pencils in hand drawing whilst listening to Rupert Spira’s meditations – The light of pure knowing. As usual, I just let Rupert’s words and guidance wash over me as I disappear into my world of ‘contemplative doodling’, staying open to a line or two that may drop into awareness. Sure enough. The line dropped in: … having apparently forgotten your true nature. And I knew this would become the title of today’s drawing. A beautiful pointer to remembering to stop, drop in, and acknowledge the ‘true nature’.
The author Paul Prudence writes in his post: Scientific illustration, especially of a biological kind, reached an apex in terms of draughtsmanship and delicateness during 19th century before photography became widespread. Though the emphasis on these illustrations was on accuracy, utility and facsimile of biodiversity, the personal aesthetics of the artists inevitably wrestled their way into the frame. Ernst Haeckel’s brilliant illustrations are the canonical example of this kind of treatment. (continued here)
On viewing and sitting with these illustrations there is no doubt they are of an exact scientific nature, however, for me it is the placement of the circles, and the subtle work of pencil that evokes an etherial beauty. Some forms appear feminine and organic, and yet a surprising element of the masculine and mechanical appear in others. All of which felt like a pointing to something deeper and perhaps beyond the duality of our world.
I found myself re-reading the post and trying to understand what Prudence was saying about Haeckel’s work. What does ‘canonical’ mean? When in doubt… Google it! The definition of CANONICAL FORM is ‘the simplest form of something’ in a mathematical context. I felt even more pulled into these drawings; bathing in their beauty, simplicity and form as captured by the artist.
Simplicity = Circles = Form in Beauty = Awareness (to me).
These recent works from my ‘contemplative doodling’ series seem to offer a theme of a circular nature. Mostly created whilst listening to Rupert Spira’s meditations, The light of pure knowing, and more recently my own internal musings. The life of an artist, especially for one with a strong intuitive pulse or inner compass as experienced here, is a constant source of wonder. Why is it I can just let the hand and pen have its way, or trust whatever chooses the next colour pencil; and who knows when the work is done? It’s all a mystery to the ‘me’ and a joy to the unknown. 🙂 Mx
I was speaking with my partner the other day about my art and where I feel the artist and the art fits, or rather doesn’t, in the so-called ‘art world’. By that I mean the art of our time, which is usually described with words like ‘contemporary’ or ‘conceptual’. For years, both in art school and since, I have struggled with trying to fit into a conceptual art scene, dying a little inside each time I was requested to come up with a story for what my art meant. You see for me, the truth of what is artistically expressed has little, if any, meaning. It’s purely an experience and a joyful one at that. Recently I came across the words and world of ‘contemplative art’. This art practice springs forth from the Buddhist traditions and is more about the contemplative or meditative approach and process, than the outcome of the artist’s work. For the first time in years I felt a light come on and a spark of resonance. Yet even the term contemplative art doesn’t quite hit the mark, feeling ever so slightly off my centre. So in this casual conversation with my partner I found myself saying: my art is really about me getting out-of-the-way and just letting Awareness express itself, it’s really… no-me-art. I like the simplicity and truth of that. Bang on! Mx
NOTE: Just for interest here is an excellent explanation of Contemplative Art from Contemplative Mind:
Art-making is a contemplative practice that affects us internally, through our thoughts and emotions, as well as externally, through the creation of object and images that can serve as sources of inspiration and healing. Contemplative art may be loosely divided into two (non-exclusive) categories:
1) Process Emphasis: the process of making artwork is what is paramount; the work that results from the practice is not important. One might consider these contemplative practices to be simply “exercises;” they can be especially freeing for those who feel they lack adequate artistic talent or skill, since the point of the practice is not to make “good” art, but simply to observe the mind while engaging in the creative process.
2) Product Emphasis: the practitioner intends to create a specific type of object–which may be directly related to other contemplative practices. For example, painting a religious icon, weaving a prayer shawl, stringing a rosary, or hand-binding a journal may done with mindful intention. The practice has a desired result: to produce a particular image or object.
In both cases, despite the emphasis on process or product, the intention of the practitioner is the same: to engage in the creative process with contemplative awareness.
I watch myself fall madly in love with each new artwork I create.
Even the ugly ducklings.
It’s always been this way.
In the moment, when pen and pencil or brush and paint, are doing their mindless abandoned thing… its pure joy tearing through my veins whilst the finished creation is delighted in and loved like a new-born child. Carefully placed where my gaze can intermittently check, re-check, and greet the new one.
It’s a curiosity because I’m not saying every piece of artwork I produce IS fantastic, however the experiencing is.
The conclusion I’ve come to is the creative expression springs forth from the Truth of who I am, the Love that we all are, and thus creates this wonderous mad alive loving experiencing. 🙂
It has been going on for a week or so now, this love affair with Rupert Spira, or rather his recent published work ‘The light of pure knowing‘, some 30 meditations on the essence of non duality.
I sit at my desk, take my journal in hand, push the play arrow on the iPad, and enjoy an hour or so of exquisite pleasure listening to Rupert whilst doodling with black pen and colour pencils. I’ve coined it ‘contemplative doodling’.
Every now and then a few words spoken by Rupert, in his elogent English accent, filter through and I write them down. Words that unknowingly penetrate the mindless abstraction of doodling, and strike a note of connection and deeper understanding. I love that. Mx