Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Intention, Meditation & Art

I have been thinking about art a lot lately (in a prelude to diving in). I am still in holiday/ visiting mode (my daughter is here until Tuesday) and boxes are finally unpacking themselves in a realization that this is home. I am still in the getting settled mode and the artists making up excuses mode. But there you have it. I have this terrible linear bend to me (can you be linear and bent at the same time? I smell a koan). I like to create order. Renos done, now boxes need unpacking and another layer of uncluttering is taking place. I find myself asking "I packed this because?" The heart breathes a little sigh at this sense of "doing the next thing that needs to be done."

But all the while I have been thinking about authentic voice and how to explore it in the studio. In my post of Dec 28th I talked about hearing the call to authentic voice and seeing this as the new year's most important work. My past methods of approaching authentic self in my art usually involved struggle and frustration and a lot of self judgement. It is my intention to try another tack (even though I am not a sailor) I will lean into the winds of more open exploration and play this year and see where that takes me. Intention, I hear tell is an important word.

A while back I picked up a second hand copy of "True perception, The Path of Dharma Art" by Chogyam Trungpa. I started wandering through its pages and wanted to share a quote that seemed helpful as I begin the new year and new mind habits of approaching my art. Here's what he has to say:

"When we talk about art, we are talking about a form of some kind that we could work on. So it is like the practice of meditation. But what is that form, and how does meditation go along with it?.... Absolutely nobody can become a good craftsman or a good artist without relating with the practice of meditation.... I'm talking about the sitting practice of meditation.... But what do we mean by the sitting practice of meditation? For instance, Beethoven, El Greco, or my most favorite person in music, Mozart -- I think they all sat. They actually sat in the sense that their minds became blank before they did what they were doing. Otherwise they couldn't possibly do it. Just coming out of the market and plopping down at the dining-room table and writing a play -- that's impossible. Some kind of mind-less-ness in the Buddhist sense has to take place. From that basic ground, the sense of being, openness, or isness begins to develop."
Chogyam Trungpa

So there it is kids, Beethoven didn't come running in from the market and plop himself down and write the moonlight sonata. So we won't be wandering in straight from Costco or Patterson's Grocery or the laundry room and expecting to make contact with that energy that taps into both our own deepest selves and the collective voice that's out there for us to draw on. It takes a sacred, contemplative, nurturing approach, an approach that listens to our own crazy stirrings. So I invite you to join me. Find your space, the ratty old sweater you love and just sink into that Mozart space.


  1. Happy New Year:

    I've visited; heck I'm even a follower, but I've not commented before.I've been pondering my word for the new year and I still can't find mine....yet. But, I think your Mozart space must be what happens when I sit down with my water colors or stamps, and just let my eyes fuzz out as I contemplate the blank paper. I need to hold onto that openness with any experience. I like this very much, your Mozart Space.

  2. Nice, Holly, yes I can see you over in the margin, nice to see you in the comments too. Well it sounds like you already know how to connect with that authentic voice.

    Your comment makes me think that maybe I "work too hard at it" and so it eludes me or maybe I make too much of it and scare it off! Yours sounds so easy and natural.

    And yes to boil the year down into a word, a difficult task! But kind of a fun one.

  3. Carole,

    Being present, for the moment, really seeing, really hearing, really smelling, really touching, and letting thoughts go in and out of consciousness screen. Then you can let go of your idea of what Buddha should look like :)

    That's my take on your post, and how I would approach art making if I was still in that mode . . .



  4. Mmmm...mozart space. And ratty sweaters. Mine got covered in wax from the candle I was trying to cut back. After I got over the "tragedy," it became a "new" sweater - one with wax globules all over it. Now I get to do new art with my new ratty sweater! A good day, today, for that and Mozart and compassionate space making.

  5. Lovely ~ Nicely said. "It takes a sacred, contemplative, nurturing approach - an approach that listens..." I'll join you for sure in the "Mozart Space." Love the Buddha Garden pic! Christine

  6. Marguerite - yes, so clearly put, this is what I am aiming for, much like any other moment really, only the specific task really cries out for this.

    Genju - "compassionate space making", I like that. And I am picturing this sweater with little wax bobbles on it and having a chuckle. Don't fly to close to the sun!

    MeANderi - well we had a wander on New Year's Eve, it only makes sense that you join me in the "Mozart Space" Len took the picture at Genoa Bay. The little garden was outside a house boat.

  7. Got my ratty sweater on ...heck I rarely take the dang thing off...

    and Mozart Space...

    and love your Buddha Garden...I see your mention that it's outside the boat house, but it's lovely that you've made it yours here.

    happy new year of discovery:
    "Absolutely nobody can become a good craftsman or a good artist without relating with the practice of meditation...."

  8. Yes, you have something there- intention is what it's all about. I think we should all put on our ratty sweaters and lean into the winds of open exploration, and I intend to do just that!

  9. I actually come here to your blog to 'meditate'- your words are so calming and peaceful--I am realizing how important that is to an artist

  10. You've enticed me to start having more quiet moments in 2011!

  11. Your Buddhas are beautiful, and I enjoyed immensely your blog.
    May all sentient beings have happiness, joy, equanimity, and the causes of happiness! And oh, that amazing tree photo....thanks for sharing.