Sunday, December 07, 2008

An afternoon with Expressive Arts

In search of inspiration, I was leafing through my current sketchbook and also happened on an older, larger watercolor pad I had stashed away some time ago . In doing so, I came upon these two pieces. In and of themselves I don't know them to be of any particular importance (or, I should say 'I don't yet know their importance'), but what IS intriquing to me is the similarities between the two. Both were products of "stream of consciousness" work - no conscious plan, design, or goal in mind - and I always find it interesting and significant when my unconscious wants to create the same form again and again. The similarities continue to come at me the more time I spend with the pieces.

The first piece (18X24), I painted more than a year ago and it was done in watercolor.

The second one (9X14), was done a few weeks ago and it is in color pencil.

Expressive Arts is about the process. The art that comes always comes as a message of healing, and it is intended for all of us. A significant pioneer in the field, Shawn McNiff, called analyzing, ownership or any type of attachment to our art once we had created it "image abuse". He says that what happens after we're done creating is purely secondary; the art IS the healing, without further need for interpretation or analysis. I find this to be true for myself. Often (in fact, 96% of the time) I have no idea what I am creating. But the process usually calms me down, makes me clearer, more full of contentment. It's as if I've spent an hour sitting on a pillow. Because I consider myself a somewhat "sloppy" practitioner and lacking in discipline, I find that the unncoscious rarely bridges the gap to the conscious world. It usually isn't until I spend time with my work, write about it, move with it, dialoque with it, or simply have it in my space that it tells me more. I know I am not "supposed to" want a deeper message, that it's about the process(!) but again, as with my meditation practice, it can be hard to not long for an end result instead of realizing that the act of painting (or sitting) IS the end result. So tricky! Often I am still too undisciplined, scared, distracted or doubful to fully pay attention. This is my practice lately. Not to dismiss the subtlest messages. To pay attention. To listen. To be present.

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