Spirituality and the art process

Spirituality and the art process – what does that mean to you?
When Glenda Charles sent me her workshop list with this topic, I was intrigued but didn’t really know what to expect.  Her workshop description included this text:

“I find out everything about myself in that moment of making”.
The musician, Nils Frahm said this about the process of making music and so it can be said about all art practice.

The title and description intrigued me. I had no idea what to expect. So I really needed to suspend any expectations before I went along. The ability to deal with uncertainty is enormously valuable to any artist. We need to embrace the unknown; to start each artistic project with the knowledge that it will probably change along the way. It will change, and in fact, probably surprise you at the same time.  For me, that’s part of the thrill of painting. Perhaps that’s because it’s part of the process of finding out more about ourselves.

I have always known that the creative process is in large part, about self-discovery.  And it’s not something that can be rushed.  It isn’t a flash of insight with every painting. Rather it’s a slow process, a bit like peeling an onion. Each layer gets you closer to the core. Removing a layer can be uncomfortable. And every time you you it, you feel more vulnerable for a while. It takes a degree of courage to open up and trust the process.

Spirituality and the art process – the workshop

Glenda is warm, joyful and down to earth. She makes this sort of leap of faith feel safe.  The process involved meditation, mark making and then a process of using some of those emotion-led marks we had generated as the starting point for an abstract painting.

Partly because of the constraint of travel-friendly paper sizes, I worked on two smaller pieces which were painted together side by side.  In itself, this was an interesting exercise I’ve not tried before.

As you can see, the results were images that are way off my normal style of work. I’ve been reflecting on them for a week now and I see some exciting possibilities that make me want to explore greater freedom in my mark making, and a more abstract collection of work.

Spirituality and the art process - Palette rightI have also changed my view of the palette I used. I think it may be too strident in its intense saturation and I rather like these versions where I used a warm filter to change the colours to a slightly more sophisticated version.  What do you think?

Spirituality and the art process -Palette left

These aren’t exactly where I would want them to be yet. They invite further work, but the process has been enlightening and I will continue to work on these two. I think this is an evolution – of the paintings and of my art development.

My take aways

The value of Spirituality and the art process was something I experienced during the workshop, but only processed consciously a few days later. Meditation at the beginning of the day was really useful as a way of quietening the analytical part of my brain. I often complain that I can spend almost a full day pottering in the studio before I even pick up a brush. It takes me that long to change my thinking style from analytical to creative.

The analytical part of my brain is usually dominant and it speaks very loudly. Although I still didn’t find it easy to tune into the intuitive process of painting, it was there and I can see what with practice, it could begin to calm the analytical thinking faster than it does these days.