Tuesday, July 24, 2007
for those who care to listen
I hadn't realised that I'd been away from my blog for over a week. Stuff happens...like spending the entire weekend reading the very last ever Harry Potter book (it's fantastic and that's all I'm saying).
After inhabiting Harry's world so intensely, I felt the best way to bring me back to reality was to do some zen drawing. So I sat down to draw this leaf. It blew onto our doorstep one day and I knew I had to draw it. Doing so was the first time since I started the zen drawing thing that I felt I really understood what it's about. I finished the drawing in two separate sittings of about 2 hours each. I felt like I really connected with the contours of the leaf, I could feel its curves and see the shadows collecting on its surface. Not surprisingly, I really enjoyed it, I felt like I was drawing with my whole self, even my heart. It was also an immensely rewarding lesson on the value of slowing down and being patient.
It also helped me to understand something I've been reading and contemplating. It comes from Robert Henri's The Art Spirit, which I picked up for guidance after my painting struggles. And oh what a treasure it is! Here's just one illuminating thought from it:-
"The object of painting a picture is not to make a picture - however unreasonable this may sound. The picture, if a picture results, is a by-product and may be useful, valuable, interesting as a sign of what has past. The object, which is back of every true work of art, is the attainment of a state of being, a state of high functioning, a more than ordinary moment of existence...These results, however crude, become dear to the artist who made them because they are records of the states of being which he has enjoyed and which he would regain. They are likewise interesting to others because they are to some extent readable and reveal the possibilities of greater existence." (from The Art Spirit, emphasis his)
...which is kind of similar to the state of being present and mindful, in zen seeing and drawing, and made me see the value of paying attention, of not just seeing but also feeling what I'm drawing with my whole being, something that I should be doing every time I sit down to draw or paint, and not just during the month of trying out zen drawing.
Anyway, The Art Spirit is full of wonderfully encouraging, wise and inspiring insights. It feels like a gift to have discovered it just when I'm struggling so much with painting...don't you just love it when stuff like that happens?