Art & meditation
An art essay on creativity by FABIO KOHLER
In our daily life we naturally meditate to perform our worldly duties. For instance, if an artist is creating a painting his mind will be continuously thinking about the work in progress while choosing the object, the theme, the best material, the technical solutions, and so on. It’s seems quite easy and natural to meditate on a worldly activity. On the other hand, when it comes to accessing higher states of consciousness in the spiritual realm, it’s seem quite difficult as we don’t have an object or external reference point to start with.
So here I will look into the artistic process of creativity, to see how a worldly activity may culminate in a spiritual experience.
Before even starting any creative process, it is important to prepare some ideal circumstances. First of all, time is needed to make room for creativity. A person whose plate is full is often not able to feel or receive inspiration. The second requirement is a clean, pure heart. Third, it is helpful to create a space – an environment dedicated exclusively to artistic creation.
In that first moment, the artist is inspired by something that touches him or her from inside, that develops into a feeling of enchantment. We train the eye to be like a newborn baby observing the entire world with a sense of wonder. Then, we give enough time to observe the subject, slowly and with patience. It’s like reading a 300-page novel and telling the entire story later on. If we don’t take the proper time to read the novel fully, we will not get the whole picture.
Later on, we start drafting lightly on the paper or canvas. At this step we are repeating what the eyes have seen, and what we have felt, with the hands. When we observe something continuously, the eyes travel around the object. In the same way the hand repeats this eye movement. Initially the whole picture is drafted on the paper, defining the page setting. Later on we get into the details. It’s very important not to be lost in details at this initial stage. Like the old Chinese saying: “If you are seeing the leaf, you are not seeing the tree. If you are seeing the tree, you are not seeing the forest.”
After a while, when there is enough visual information on the paper or canvas, we can start analyzing proportion, identifying geometrical abstractions in figures and making necessary corrections. Here enters the analytical mind, but even still it has to be balanced and integrated with the natural flow of the figure. Later on we observe light and dark, adding deep and intermediate grades of shadow, leaving blank spaces in those spots where the light is hitting most. If it is a painting, the next step would then be to add colors, observing the nuances.
At a certain point the external object is not required anymore. Now we explore in depth the graphic or pictorial universe, which turns out to be a new reality. At this stage we express our innermost feelings, enjoying the total liberty of contemplating the inner world. This stage may take hours, days, weeks, months or even years. And even when an artwork is finished, we can easily keep on ‘cooking on a low fire’, making continuous small perfections and refinements.
There is a saying that an artwork is never finished, it’s only an abandoned process that others perceive as finished. A famous example is the unfinished painting, the Mona Lisa by Leonardo Da Vinci, which he painted over 3 years and continued refining for another 11 years until he separated himself from the work.
I find that it’s preferable to spend more time on one or just a few drawings, going deep into each one, rather than working on many at once and finishing them too fast. There is an importance to the depth we achieve in each work. This depth continues to deepen, and each previous work leads to greater depth in the next one. It’s a vertical journey.
At the end, stepping out of the artistic process and contemplating the work, all sorts of feelings arise, like “How was this done?” and “Who did this?” At the same time, all the effort and feeling of doing the work is still very much alive and leads to future work. We have no choice but to keep on excelling, because the previous artwork, yesterday’s effort, no longer satisfies the soul. This will continue until our final breath on Earth marks the end of this process.
So the ultimate beauty of artistic creation is to refine the tool to such an extent, that we become a channel of creation coming from the deepest inspirations of the heart. Then we are able to completely integrate the artistic process with spirituality.
To see more of Fabio’s work, please visit https://www.patreon.com/fabiokohler
Art and article by FABIO KOHLER
April 29, 2019
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