Art as Spiritual Expression
I’ve noticed how my art practice reflects my spiritual practice. When I’m feeling less connected to Spirit, my art becomes chaotic, I spend more time browsing around Pinterest and Instagram “for inspiration” and I doubt myself more (read: half-finished canvases lying around the place.)
Isn’t it funny how we look to Google for inspiration when the word itself should give us a clue as to where the creative muse really hides. When we’re “in spirit” we’re also “inspired.” Real inspiration comes from inside.
But how do we connect with our creative spirit when our minds are feeling chaotic, restless or overstimulated and all we want to do is throw some paint on the canvas and feel better?
For me, daily meditation is key. And purposefully having fun;-)
I’ve been meditating for a few years now, but I’ve noticed since making meditation my ONLY non-negotiable item for the day, I’ve been much calmer, more inspired and hence more productive. I’ve also noticed that as my mind calms down, and my nervous system in general, from a steady, regular meditation practice, that I’m drawn to calmer, slower ways of doing art. I’m no longer in a rush with watercolour - I can stop to plan, wait for layers to dry and enter into an intuitive conversation with the piece. Previously, I just wanted to get it done as soon as possible for the quick fix of having completed the artwork and feeling accomplished.
When I first started painting, I knew about sumi-e as a meditative art form, but I never considered that I would eventually become calm and centred enough to attempt it for myself. In Sumi-e, every brush stroke is contemplated before committing to paper. Often, depending on your approach, the objects are not drawn in first, as the painter meditates on the object she wishes to paint, and attempts to capture the essence of that object in each brushstroke. There is no correcting of strokes. Each stroke is final. If you didn’t capture the essence of your object before committing paint to paper and it turns out a bit wonky, then you start the meditative process all over, with a new sheet of rice paper in front of you.
It’s a process I’m finding intriguing these days, and I see it as progress in my spiritual practice that I’m now able to contemplate an object for as long as it takes before I feel the need to apply the first brush stroke. There is no more hurry. No more neediness for art to provide a quick fix of accomplishment or even for the art to conform to a preconceived idea of what I want it to look like. Contemplation of the essence is important and I see the brushstrokes as simply expressions of how I perceive the the true nature of an object to be, in my eyes.
I have come to a place in my art practice where the experience of inner peace is the only true reflection of how much I’ve accomplished in that session.
Art is no longer about showing others what I can do, but about showing myself the state of my own mind.
On Having Fun
All things in life work best when there is a balance, something to counter act against it becoming an extreme. My counterbalance to daily meditation and time spent in silence, is to also have as much fun as I can on any given day. For me, this mostly involves the beach (or some other body of water) and stand up paddle boarding with my children, or swimming or simply enjoying the outdoors.
I take time to feel the warm beach sand under my toes (which makes me incredibly happy!) or to savour the sunshine on my skin when I’m in the water. Something as delicious as my favourite drink from Starbucks can also bring great joy, and laughing often is important. Being light during the day, not heavy.
This is inspiration from the inside. Being in-spirit, ready for the next art practice.
What do you do to bring you closer to your inner muse? How do you prefer to take become quiet, and how do you balance your quiet periods?