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The Center :: Art and Meditation

Impermanence ~ 16" x 20" oil on board

I am being drawn to stillness. Like many people, my mind and attention often blows around like a leaf in the wind. It is inspiring to watch, and much can be appreciated and learned. But I can’t always direct it, control it.

This energetic buzzing I find beautiful, bright, colorful and is something I try to grasp hold of for my paintings. To develop my work, I want to hang on to this kernel of truth. It perhaps links to our life energy as beings, the electricity we all produce to stay warm and alive in the world.

There is another aspect however. The ability to control and direct the mind. As when we exercise we train the body, so we can train the mind. I have reached a stage where I think that I can help my creative mind move deeper into a focused awareness through meditation.

I have a particular problem with meditation.

In my teens and twenties, I developed a way to make myself fall asleep when I was feeling anxious or sad (before having twins, which was also a really wonderful way to develop the ability to fall asleep whenever the opportunity arose!).  I developed a form of self-hypnosis. I started counting backwards from 100 to 1, with no expectations of sleep at the end – no pressure. This worked so well over the years that now I can fall asleep when I reach 91… This state I enter is so like mediation, that this presents a problem for me now, when I try to meditate. As soon as my mind gets calm, quiet…. I fall asleep.

Somewhere between the two extremes of excitement and sleep lies calm. Focused awareness, timeless consciousness. I often feel that I reach this during the act of creation, but I am also actively engaged in moving, painting, responding to colors and lines. Now, I would like to reach it when my body is still.  What I am hoping meditative practice will bring to me is a new energy. In my studio, when I close the doors, I would like to bring a new, still energy.

The piece called “Impermanence” is the start of  a new series of expressive still lives. In many of my previous works, I’ve addressed movement, with branches that swirl up and away, dancing and relating to each other, among bright colors deconstructed from natural scenes. In contrast, “Impermance” sits very still, with a central, inward composition, a mountain. I painted “Impermance” after I learned of the death of Chris Al-Aswad, founder of art and literature journal Escape Into Life, and a truly creative soul. I was deeply shocked and saddened by his passing; he was such a young, gifted man.

In a way, meditative practice for me is an artistic tool. I want to use it so that I use my time more effectively. Each day, I would like to crystallize as many of my pure ideas as possible, without distraction, or vague meanderings. I am hoping it will be a way to mark the beginning of each creative day, a silent starter’s pistol, as well as a thread to tie them together as my works develop.

I take my work very seriously and, while I am really just at the start of my journey as an artist, I am hoping that the discipline of meditation will allow me to walk with more clarity and truthfulness towards my artistic evolution.

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  • Wendy Wright August 10, 2010, 2:24 am

    Your piece, Impermanence is absolutely beautiful! 🙂 I really love the colors that you used and how the colors are very limited. 🙂 Meditation and it’s benefits are amazing. 🙂 I wish you the best with it. 🙂

  • Alison August 10, 2010, 2:30 am

    Thanks Wendy. I like the piece too and I think it speaks a very clear visual and emotional language.

    I’ll let you know how i get on with Meditation — I am going to try, and in a disciplined way!