Still Life with Electric Guitar, Oil on canvas, 30” x 40”
Making a paintings is a mystical practice. We are the ancients searching for the way to turn lead into gold. When we make a painting we are once again those early people scratching pictures onto the walls of their caves depicting the glories of their favorite hunt. Applying colored pigments to a stretched canvas is to make a doorway into another world. And tho the artist by default evolves into a modern shaman, her audience can sometimes seem nonexistent. In fact, she may feel like a stranded motorist sending up flares on the side of an empty road in the middle of the desert. I have a Wilson basketball in my studio and there are times when I feel more than a little like Tom Hanks in his famous movie Cast Away.
Tom Hanks in the movie Cast Away
So because isolation can some time seem to be the preset of our dominant culture, I am constantly inviting people to come over to my studio to visit. I love to have a friend stop by and to make them lunch. Afterwards I can share what I have been working on and see how they respond. There is a way that the artwork comes alive in special way when it is shared with another person. It is as if when there are a new pair of eyes an electric current to the soul is completed. Could it be that when we are before a powerful artwork that even a sort of spiritual download takes place? I am almost positive this has happened to me on several occasions.
Portrait of my Mother, watercolor and conte pencil
As artists we spend our entire lives learning to see. This vision we develop is not limited to the physical world. what happens when a person spends years learning to draw they are at the same time learning how to be still. I believe that developing the ability to be still and receptive is putting yourself in position to be handed the key to the universe. If we can learn to be still we just may find ourselves with a plug in connection to the spiritual realm, hard wired into all that is eternal. It has been said if you can find a way to truly connect with any one thing, like Walt Whitman’s blade of grass, you at once connecting with everything.
I am curious what your experiences have been like if you are an artist. Do you ever feel isolated and if so what do you do to break this spell and find connection with others? Have you had powerful encounters with a work of art that felt like downloading updated spiritual software? I would love to know your stories and strategies.