Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Studio Dharma

I spent a long time in my studio today painting. So much of what I observe and learn there amongst the paints and canvas and bits of paper is transferable to the rest of my life.  

Here is what I learned  today sitting in the organized chaos, wearing an old sweater that could scare the cat:
1.  The longer I spend working, the more work I realize there is to do.  That's very Dharmaesque don't you think?  The more training we do, the more we see what needs to be done.  Like training, painting is endless.  We are only limited by the amount of canvas available to us.

2.  Sometimes less is more.  Oh what a Zen cliche, but even a cliche can be true!  Knowing when to stop, to leave well enough alone, to be quiet, is a valuable asset in creating a work of art or life, especially seeing as your life is your biggest work of art!  I've ruined many a painting by continuing when I should have stopped.  Where else have I done this in my life, I wonder.  eek I'm afraid to look!

3.  It is much nicer to just spend time with your canvas and paints and your family and friends (or anyone really) than to constantly be looking at them sideways and holding them up to the light.  Do I like this eye, no, maybe that line is too dark, what about that shade of blue.   Too much checking in, mind chatter and judgement is not really helpful to any process.  It's better, but oh so difficult, to just be there, open and listening, letting your response come from somewhere deep inside whether your holding a paint brush or looking someone in the eyes.

4.  A happy, playful, attitude of exploration is the best approach.  You have more fun and will probably end up somewhere more interesting, than the grim and bear it school of life.  Some of the best end results come from happy accidents, whatever it is you're up to.  Things take on a life of their own when you step out of your own way, sometimes with results you never even dreamed of.

5.  Patience, patience, patience.  Maybe that painting will look different in the morning, just like that problem I've been stewing over, or the phone call I need to return, or the email that needs responding to.  Sometimes waiting and sleeping on things(as long as they're not too lumpy) is a miraculous transformer.  And maybe in the morning I wake up knowing just the colour or brush stroke to add here, or maybe it comes to me in the shower.  And maybe I just need to spend some time staring at that canvas (don't do this to friends, it makes them very uncomfortable!)

That's what I know for now.  I learned it from a paint stained table, a yogurt tub full of dirty brushes and boxes of scrap paper.  What secrets are lying around your humble abode???  Come on, share a few....

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