During the pandemic, I started painting with my kids. The kids lost interest, but my interest kept going.
This period coincided with a lot of personal exploration and inner work. I began a serious meditation practice, practiced yoga every morning at 4:45, and read widely in the history of consciousness.
I began to associate my painting with my inner work.
Art and Self
When I make a painting, it is a capsule of myself at that moment in time. In vedanta sometimes we talk about the self and the SELF. The universal and eternal Self and the self in the world, the ego. Experiencing the Self is to right-size the self.
Right-sizing the self is related to stilling the mind. A painting captures the movements of the artist but also the struggles, fears, the ideas in their head. When I paint, I want to remove all the mental chatter and act!
This is true for all paintings, and perhaps it is true for all art. But, the more art is mediated by symbolic language such as writing and technology, the more difficult it is to remove the mind and act as the Self.
Painting, and drawing, are about decisions.
Each mark on the page is a decision the artist makes. These decisions are embodied decisions. The artist perceives the work through her senses, and moves her hand or body to create.
Contrary to logical decision-making, we do not predict anything when we make an artistic decision. We sense-make at the moment.
When we look at art, often we have a story about the art.
Sometimes we say the work is about power, freedom, or trauma. But this story is about the mind more than the work. It is a projection.
Projection is a psychoanalytic term that describes how we bring our own feelings and mental activity to work, situation, or individual. When we project, we experience our mental projection, which is an illusion.
I want to strip away the chatter and experience the work or the individual as it is, in its naked beingness.
Advaita Vedanta is a spiritual path to enlightenment. Enlightenment is pure awakening – to live without projection and strategy and experience each moment as radically new, shining with its own radiance and the godhead.
When I see a successful painting, I feel this sense, of radical acceptance of reality as it is. It is fully embodied and of the world. It is original and surprising without the constraints of the mind.
Abstraction and representation art can both create this feeling, but in abstraction, there is no scaffolding. We are performing without a net.
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