Sunday, April 7, 2013

Life lessons in the paint

For whatever reason, the spirit seems to flow easily through my camera: I feel the moment is right, I think before I shoot, I position myself and the camera, and the magic -- what Gurdjieff calls The Fourth Way, when everything comes together and something larger than my ordinary self seems to have taken charge -- just... happens.

Painting is MUCH more challenging than that -- and whatever my initial successes (beginner's luck?) may have been, recent attempts have been considerably less satisfying.  But I honestly think that's been a gift: I understand much more deeply now how important it is to have a healthy balance between thinking, feeling, and sensing; between mind, heart and body -- and how often, for me, the balance is tipped too heavily toward thought -- especially when my body is under duress.

I keep coming back to Christopher Mathie's singular advice: it's always the right mark.  As I labor over these poor canvases, painting and repainting until there are so many layers they begin to crackle and tear, I'm learning a lot about what works and what doesn't in technical terms.  But more importantly I'm coming to see how every time I allow my mind to be the only force in deciding what happens next, the results strain the body and disappoint the heart; that in painting, as in life, I need to be centered, to be balanced, to return to the source and draw my energy from the Divine and NOT from my poor foolish ego...

All of this tension comes, I think, from being an artist of faith, something made very clear to me in an article I discovered today thanks to my beloved blogsister, Maureen Doallas.  Here's Sandra Bowden, speaking on art as a vocation, an article initially published by ECVA's Mel Ahlborn and Ken Arnold in their Visio Divina.

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