This last year has brought me all kinds of opportunities for growth. At this ripe old age I would say that heartbreak in life is unavoidable. Heartbreak is just the process of us learning to accept the joy that comes and eventually goes in life. The gifts the universe gives us are all transitory... and if we cannot gracefully accept that all things must pass, than those gifts become barbed hooks and tear us apart as they move out of our lives again. If we can open ourselves to joy without attachment then they become waves, washing over us, and we can be open and aware of all of the new joys that are constantly becoming available to us.
Negotiating that sometimes frustrating, and at turns transcendent act of awareness is what the practice of painting is about for me. Not everything I paint is great, not everything I see is great, but if my awareness is great and my acceptance of things as they meet my reality remains steadfast, then I feel like I am actually giving a gift back to the universe. My awareness is a gift of gratitude to the wonders of our world. The breathing leaves and skipping birds, the dark resting stones and the bright clear sky, the bent grey branch and the folded yellow petals, and maybe most wonderful, the way all these parts move with each other, breathing the same air, allowing the same precious rays of sunlight to bend all over them. Ugh. Its almost too much.
The other wild thing to me is that most of my life doesn’t feel like this. Mostly I’m stressing about work or stuck in traffic or trying to figure out how to communicate with my children, or just feed them before soccer practice. I often feel frustrated and overwhelmed, or all out scared as hell. I’m sure we share some of those feelings, however for many of us there is a practice that allows us to pause, breathe and be grateful. This practice often allows us to bend or stretch time and heightens our senses, as well as quieting the inner voices that sometimes are no help at all really.
There is a short list of things I do that really make me feel better when those stressors and negative voices get out of hand.
1) talk therapy
3) spending time with friends and family
4) drawing and painting
Your list is ( I’m sure ) different, but if your at all interested in how to make creating art into one of those tools in your life, then join me, ‘cuz I’m ‘bout to get into it again. This time by using examples of actual paintings that I may consider good or sometimes even not my faves, and doing my best to explain how my mind, body and the space around me interact to create not only that painting but the opportunity to open that moment up to my awareness., as a practice of gratitude.
"Cognition does not begin and end in the brain, but actually is conducted in concert with the environment and the physical body."now it's all I think about when I'm painting. my mind wants to see things, and see them clearly. But my body has it's own agenda...breathing and feeling tired, hungry, and waving in the breeze, like a filament of a barnacle. MY BODY IS HUNGRY...MY MIND IS ALSO HUNGRY...and the space around me acts out its own impulses, that my brain and body respond to. The Wind or rain could change my mood or ruin the excursion for me. It is the space around me I am here to capture, or to experience. The act of observational painting is the very act of becoming aware in real time of the shifting space that is our very being, the nerves and thoughts and emotions and urges that flow like a rushing current though our bodies and minds, into and out of the space all around us. Mind, Body and Everything Else all three work on me equally, and my identity, the decisions I make, have no firm boundary between them. My decisions are not made just in my head, but in the intersection of these three vectors and so I am greater than just my mind, I am greater even than myself.
In the moment of this painting, I had sat down on some rocks beside the Wilson River. I had never been to this swimming hole before, and all my senses were open. My mind was in a childlike state of learning, taking in the bird songs and the shapes of leaves, because it was a new space for me. I was eating some salami, and crackers, looking up and down the bank, joyful and grateful, for the love in my life. Belly full, Mind calm, and the world around me becomes the main thing. I accept the world around me and put pigment on paper.
Even in the course of a single painting the light is never the same as when I began. The practice of awareness through impermanence helps build in me, a sense of gratitude for the moment as it is happening and an acceptance of change. The two being linked, awareness and a capacity for joy and an acceptance of life slipping through our fingers.
The practice of true and open presence, in nay form has the capacity to change our lives for the better. Being aware and connected, allows experiences to be more clearly imprinted in our memories, because it allows us to take more of our experience in. That practice is carried into all aspects of my life. So thanks art...you saved one more soul today.