Monday, July 27, 2015

Working With Hope, Fear And Blocks

Field Notes 16"x16"
Life is full of painting right now. My work table is covered in open tubes of paint, bits of oily rag, and multiple canvases and panels. I am doing an online course called "The Sacred Arts" with Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche, though nothing about my workspace looks sacred. The focus of the course  is creativity and part of that is working with what blocks us.

It is a given that true art, whatever it's form, comes from somewhere other than the head. Does it come from somewhere deep inside us or are we tapping into something outside of us, or maybe a combination of both? A lot of artists will tell you," I didn't feel like I painted that or wrote that, I felt like something came through me."

In the west we put a lot of value on our thinking minds.  The old "I think, therefore I am" permeates us at such a deep level we hardly notice it.  We believe in the power of our minds and in part we are right.  What we believe strongly influences what we do.  And yet it is not the whole picture.  My old Zen teacher used to say, "the mind is a good servant, but not a very good master.  This sounds a little medieval but there is truth in it. Sometimes the thinking mind is not enough.  Sometimes the thinking mind is the obstacle.

How To Get There 16"x 16"
In this course we have been exploring what blocks us in expressing our authentic creative selves.  We've been exploring fear and hope as blockages to our work.  Pema Chodron says the human condition consists of bouncing back and forth between hope and fear.  To allow our creative voices to speak we need to move beyond these conditions. Working from a place of stillness and spaciousness allows us to be open to what wants to be expressed through us. And yet we can't brush aside or ignore those hopes and fears.  What are your fears about your creative self and work? Do you fear you are a talentless lout? Do you hope it will be easy? Those thoughts flying below your radar might be standing between you and your best work.

On Mountain Time 12"x 16"
The course is a reorientation for me. I have big tendency to work from my head, to muck, to get frustrated, to believe I can't yet hope I will. (I think that last bit should be added to the definition of insanity!) And in the end it is about the having habits that support us and spending time working.  Ultimately our work will teach us everything we need to know if we pay attention. And the process is transferable to the ultimate art, the most precious canvas of our own lives.  Whatever we learn from our art practice seeps out into our life and the other way around. It is a rich, interconnected tapestry that we have the good fortune to be weaving. May your needle be sharp and your glasses never far away.