|8"x8" mixed media on panel (at ArtCraft)|
I have been struggling a lot with my art process lately. It's my koan. I feel like a living example of Ira Glass' quote.
But truly I've been doing this for a long time in one form or another. Just somehow with some of the reflection on my mental habits and the energy of my sitting practice, it's become more clear. Sometimes that makes it more painful. (Koan # 109 Is shit shittier if you see it more clearly??) But in some ways it feels like something that is becoming larger until it explodes and turns to dust (and or debris) and disappears. Am I just trying to put a good spin on it, all dressed up like Pollyanna with nowhere to go? Or am I responding to the inherent emptiness in all our thrashings?
Some days the experience of frustration is so intense that I'm thinking, "why am I doing this? I am terrible at it. Why don't I just give up?" And then I see Mara's shadow and I catch on. Yes I could throw out all the paint brushes (I had a friend who threw his golf clubs into a lake) but where would I be then. I am chasing something and some days it feels like it's just around the corner. And some days it's on another planet.
|11"x14" mixed media on panel|
The judgmental mind causes a lot of grief when we don't see it for what it is. It's true that critical reasoning can offer helpful information but when thoughts kickstart the destructive emotions into gear and pedal out a long line of unhelpful thoughts and feelings, critical thought is a bitch.
I looked at some lovely photos from a family friend this morning that oozed beauty and serenity. And as I sat I was reminded of a comment a monk made to me when I asked him about my frustration with my painting process. He said something to the effect that "if you want to paint peace, you need to be peace." And while that makes a lot of sense to me I often end up on the short end of the peace stick.
|Visitor at our back door (outside!)|
As I sat with all this I was infused with a lovely feeling of tenderness and I thought that's what I want to come out on to the canvas. I could see in my minds eye how that tenderness would look on the easel.
And so it is the unwinding of this habitual way of being in the world that is our real work, not the painting, not the writing, not whatever it is that we do. When we can in fact "be" what it is we wish to share with the world, then it will come through us. Until then we're just preparing the canvas. And that's good honest work too.