May 11, 2013
Back on November , I did two drawings after doing a meditation from Judith Cornell’s book Drawing the Light from Within. Last month, following Cornell’s instructions I used one of my drawings as a basis for a painting done with poster paint – black, white and several shades of gray.
I had written of the original drawing that it “has an unsettling quality – as if something is broken.” The poster paint gave the drawing an even more unsettling quality.
As I’ve stated before, I’ve been adapting the exercises in Cornell’s book by using watercolor as my medium, though this is never suggested in her book. Here’s the same drawing used as the basis for a watercolor painting.
I’ve given the painting a title: “Shout!”
Yesterday morning I sat naked in my cabin reading a passage in A Course in Miracles. The painting was on an improvised altar in front of me. One of the passages that I read was, “The beliefs of the ego cannot be shared.” Does this mean that the painting is not of my ego, because I can share it with you?
I’ve used meditation before drawing and painting. I’ve been naked while drawing and painting. Both of these have helped me to be in sacred space while I painted. And yet this painting has an unsettling quality. Is it depicting something of how ego sees the world? Yes and no. This is not how the ego wants me to see the world, but it is a statement of the mind’s reaction to the world the ego has created. The white in the center is the light of divine consciousness. The “Shout” is in a language I cannot understand – and yet without knowing the language, it’s meaning comes through to me. Nothing more needs to be said.
March 8, 2013
“Every loving thought held in any part of the Sonship belongs to every part. It is shared because it is loving.” — A Course in Miracles.
Traditional Quaker public worship consists of sitting in silence. If moved to speak one speaks briefly to all present. To me, this is the sharing of Love spoken of in A Course in Miracles. I’m also reminded that, “To everything there is a time and a season.” For some loving thoughts tt may not the right time to share in Quaker worship.
Last Sunday, as I sat in worship, some thoughts about faith and practice came to me, but I did not have a signal from my Higher Self that I should speak. Then I remembered something that had happened the previous weekend at Powell House, a Quaker retreat center. I was talking to Heidi, an old friend from the Albany area, and Noah, a high-school senior that I’d met at other Quaker programs. My friend’s four-year old son rushed up and hugged her knees, saying “Mommy.” Then he hugged the student’s knees, saying “Noah.” He went back and forth, saying “Mommy, Noah, Mommy, Noah.”
I asked my Higher Self if I should tell this story and immediately get a “yes” signal. As I stood up and spoke, I found the words came effortlessly. I ended by saying that this child was showing us how we are a family. I sat down. and a feeling of joy came over me. I had shared a loving thought.>
You may not choose or be led to participate in Quaker worship. But for everyone, there are times when it is appropriate to tell someone about our loving thoughts. We should not hesitate in doing this, as we strengthen our own ability to love by this action.
February 28, 2013
Dada is a name given to a seminal movement in modern art that started about the time of World War I. It stressed irrationality, and one of its proponents suggested creating poetry by taking a newspaper article, carefully cutting out each word, and putting them together in random order. I have tried this on occasion and used the method to create spoken words that became part of a musical composition.
I have also extended this method to visual art by starting with a random scribble. I did this in a place where I had privacy and thus was able to do the whole procedure described here while completely naked.
Over a copy of this scribble, I placed a grid of squares 1.25″ on each side. Then I cut the drawing into these squares. I randomly selected one and glued it to a sheet of plain paper.
I continued adding squares, until I had added nine more. Each time I added a square I made sure at least one line of the new square connected with a line of another square.
Here’s the progression of lines being added
The resulting drawing was scanned and then cleaned up by removing any lines that came from the edges of the paper. As I looked at the drawing, the title, “Dance of Life” came to me. I asked myself, “What kind of music might be suggested by the drawing?” – “What kind of movement?” – “What colors?”
What do you see in the drawing?
February 13, 2013
In December I posted something about using watercolor while doing the exercises in Drawing the Light from Within, by Judith Cornell. Last week I completed “Project 2: Painting with Light” using transparent watercolors. I followed the procedure that I had outlined in December and discovered that it takes longer to do the painting in transparent watercolor than it does in poster paint. This is both because I must brush each area with a wet angle brush to make the shading from black to white and because I must let each segment dry before painting an adjacent segment. Here’s the result.
After that I did a second watercolor using one of the drawings that I had done in November using a guided meditation in Judith Cornell’s book. This time I departed from her instructions by intruding a red and yellow area into the painting. Here’s the result.
In all my work with art I feel it’s more important to develop my own instincts for what is right rather than to slavishly follow instructions in a book. As I work more with Drawing the Light from Within, I’ll post the results on this blog.
January 14, 2013
Several years ago I took a week-end drawing workshop with Frederick Franck. He basically follows a drawing method outlined by Kimon Nicolaides in his book, The Natural Way to Draw. The idea is to only draw while looking at the object, never while looking at your paper. If you want to look at your paper, you must stop moving your pen. Franck regards this as a kind of meditation, which he calls “Seeing-Drawing.”
My renewed interest in watercolors has led me to do more drawing, Here are some of the drawings that I did as part of “seeing-drawing” meditation. I pick ordinary objects whose shapes provide some challenges.
I draw in India ink because i want to discipline of not beige able to erase a line. I use a pen than can be refilled when the ink runs out. Not every drawing accurately reflects what I’m seeing.
Here’s a drawing where the line for the back of the leg forms too sharp an angle at the ankle. If I were drawing with pencil, I could erase and redraw the line. While this would produce a ore accurate drawing, it would not be in keeping with seeing-drawing as mediation.
Seeing-drawing is just one of my meditation practices, so it isn’t done every day, but it has the advantage that it shows me how to do drawings that can be the basis of watercolor paintings.
December 31, 2012
A few days ago I adapted a part of one of her exercises – step two of “Project 2: Painting with Light” – for transparent watercolor. I started by scanning one of my drawings and printing the scan on ordinary copier paper. This was the drawing I selected.
Then I turned the paper over and used a watercolor pencil to shade over the areas where there were lines.
Next I traced the lines on stretched watercolor paper.
When doing this exercise with poster paint I mixed seven different shade of gray. For the watercolor version, I used Payne’s gray and ivory black and shaded the watercolor from dark to light to invisible. First I dampened the area with clear water using a medium round brush. Next using a finer brush I painted a thin line of Payne’s Gray along the left edge . Then, using a wet 1/4″ angle brush I shaded the line from dark grey through medium gray to invisible. I found that this brush would become charged with paint, so I rinsed it frequently. After this shading, using my smallest round brush, I painted a line of Ivory black over the line of gray and, as before, shaded the paint from left to right.
I allowed the paint to dry. Then I repeated this procedure in the large space on the right, this time painting lines on both sides and shading toward the middle.
Finally, I did the small space at the top.
As I continue to work in Cornell’s book using transparent watercolor, I’ll describe my techniques. Some of my readers may wish to try them.
December 20, 2012
I’ve been studying Erotic Body Prayer by Kirk Prine, one of the founders of the Flesh and Spirit Community. About half of this book is preliminary theory, and I’ve just reached page 97, the start of the section called, “Simple Steps for Erotic Body Prayer.” Step A in this section is “Creating a Sacred Space,” and in it there is a sub-section is called “Sacred Geometry.” This inspired me, while sitting naked in my cabin (a way for me to enter sacred space), to make some pen and ink studies based on the vesica pisces and the yin-yang symbol.
The vesica pisces is the shape formed by two intersecting circles.
I’ve allowed my imagination to guide me to expand on this symbol, making it a form that might be used in erotic spirituality.
The second symbol that came to my attention, was the Yin-Yang from Taoism.
Again, I have allowed my imagination to show me how this symbol might become part of erotic spirituality.
Then I went one step further by using this drawing as a basis for a water-color.
I am reminded of the words of Lao Tzu, as translated by Ralph Alan Dale: “The space between yin and yang is like a bellows – empty, yet infinitely full.”
Two cocks touching, forming the sacred symbol of Yin-Yang affirms that two men can sexually relate in the way referenced by Martin Buber when he said, “When two people relate to each other authentically and humanly, God is the energy that surges between them.”
December 13, 2012
Two months ago I came across a video on Vimeo – a few shots from Primal Matter, the work of choreographer Dimitris Papaioannou.
This led to a Google search and the discovery that Primal Matter would be performed at EMPAC in Troy, NY. It was a free performance with limited seating, but fortunately I got their early and got my name on the list for a free ticket.
The performers – one clothed and one naked – interacted in ways that suggested they sometimes thought of each other as strange objects – something to be crawled through or manipulated. The program notes say, “Primal Matter offers a universal language of decoding and a shortcut to the truth – the fusion of two bodies is a fusion of attitudes and identities, and a struggle between matter and mind, shadow and light, and creator and creation.”
In the last section, the performers contrive to let first one and then both lower legs of one performer become the lower legs for the other performer. You can see this in the last seconds of the video. To me, this climatic section illustrated the care that must be taken when two or more people try to act as “one body,” – that is act in consort toward an agreed goal.
Quaker congregations try to reach what is called a “sense of the Meeting,” a state where everyone sees that one action is for the highest good of all. Papaioannou’s work – moving from acting as if the other body were a machine, to acting as if it were a body to be cared for, and finally coming together with great care and difficulty to act as one body – illustrates a kind of unity that is rare but very necessary if humans are to survive.
November 27, 2012
Back on November 6, my posting concerned the work that I’ve been doing based on Drawing the Light from Within, by Judith Cornell. Yesterday, I did more line drawings that could be a basis for paintings. This time, I first used a meditation from Cornell’s book in which I visited a golden building, which in the meditation is referred to as “The Hall of Illumined Arts and Design.”
The building looked like a gilded Taj Mahal. My higher self accompanied me inside the building where I saw, through a gothic arch, a shaft of light coming from high on my right. I also had an image of a road going off into the distance. This figured in two of the drawings that I did. The first has the static quality of a symbol.
Here we see the beam of light coming down from the right. The road goes off toward and through a circular disk that could be symbolic of God as the omega-point of existence.
The second figure has an unsettling quality – as if something is broken or amiss.
The road is small and narrow, and the circular disk is fragmented.
I expect that if I use these drawings as a basis for paintings I may get a glimpse of meaning, both of the drawings themselves and of my visit to the Hall of Illumined Design.
November 23, 2012
Recently, I have begun to meditate by taking a phrase from Hebrew scripture, Christian scripture, or the scripture of one of the other world religions. I sit naked in my cabin contemplating the phrase and watching the thoughts that come to me. Often, at the end of my meditation, I write some of these thoughts in my journal.
One morning in meditation, the words of Mary as recored in the Gospel of Luke came to me: “My soul doth magnify the Lord,”. This was immediately followed by a number of questions:
- Does my soul truly “magnify the Lord”?
- What does it mean to “magnify the Lord”?
- How great must my soul be if it can “magnify the Lord”?
I sensed the wonder of life – for it was in experiencing the life of Jesus inside her – the life of a child yet to be born, that Mary uttered these words. How blessed a woman is to be able to feel unborn life!
My thoughts formed into a prayer. “Lord, let my soul truly magnify you.” When I pray this prayer, I hear an answer: “When your soul dwells in simplicity, when it radiates peace, when it commits to integrity, when it unites in community, when it finds equality, and when it knows the gratitude of being able to live a life of service – then your soul truly magnifies to Lord.”*
The colors of God’s light flowing through each of us create not a cacophony, but a magnificent rainbow. God’s light flows through you in a unique way, and if you do not let that light through, it will be forever lost to the world.
*Simplicity, peace, integrity, community, equality, and service are often sited as Quaker values, and are remembered with the acronym “SPICES.”