Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Accessing A Meditative State of Mind Through Art

Many of us have heard about the benefits of meditation, but sometimes find it hard to do. Fewer of us know about the profound benefits of artistic expression. Creating art, however, is another way to access a meditative state of mind and the profound healing it brings. Maia Gambis, "Why making art is the new meditation," The Washington Post, August 25, 2015
Nancy Bell Scott
Over the past year I've come upon a most fascinating centering practice. I'd been painting with oils for most of a decade, then experimenting with acrylics and abstract painting, but always especially drawn to the interaction of arts--ekphrastic poetry, for example (poems written in response to visual art), found poetry (a collage of words that refashion existing texts), and art that uses words as part of the design, such as Kenneth Patchen's work.

Last year I discovered asemic writing in art, though Sam Roxas-Chua's Echolalia in Script: A Collection of Asemic Writing and the work of Nancy Bell Scott.

I'd also been following Jane Davies' Facebook page and, when she offered a downloadable workshop called "Text and Image," happily bought it. Some of my consequent text and image pieces included both asemic writing and lines from my own poetry. and I was charmed by the playfulness of this work, still thinking of these efforts as learning a process.

Mary Bast: "A Course of Action"
Then one of my clients went to the Helen Frankenthaler "As in Nature" exhibit and sent me a copy of the accompanying book.

Mary Bast: "Frankenthrall"
Instead of following the work others had done to combine words and art, I played with cutting out new shapes from Frankenthaler's paintings, and collaging them in abstract patterns, using her colors and textures as inspiration, making marks with black pen, frankly enthralled with the results, left.

I learned a lot about this artist, but more important, a new mode of expression had popped up from out of the blue, calling me to a completely centered creative space.

There was no plan, no thought, no judgment, simply free association, playfulness, and joy.

This also drew me to the realization that I knew little about women in abstract expressionism, and quickly discovered I was not the only one. So for many months I studied the works of historically underappreciated artists and created collages as tributes to their work (click here to view collages.).

When I had a pile of shapes, I put on disposable gloves, got down on the floor with a canvas, a big jug of M. Graham Acrylic Gloss Medium and Varnish, a brush, and just let things happen. Once the canvas was covered, and I felt the rightness of colors/shapes, I let it dry, then drew lines, circles, outline with a fine point Sharpie pen. New eyes. . . pure expression:
Contemplative beholding of art - indeed of anything - can lead to the animation of whatever is before us. New eyes, "the right eyes," suddenly open, waking us up, and consequently awakening everything around us. Arthur Zajonc, "Meditation and Art," Psychology Today, January 05, 2011.
A meditative approach [to art] advocates that we would be best served if we focused less on the "self" and more on the expressive part of the creative process. Such an approach is called pure expression rather than self-expression, because one has learned through meditation how to let go of the relentless self-referencing, self-dialoging, self-consciousness, self-criticism. "Art, Meditation, and the Creative Process," Shambhala Times, March 1, 2015.

No comments: