Make Art: Create the Flower

Recently I picked up an Eckhart Tolle book – A New Earth.  Yeah, I’m way behind, this was an Oprah book club selection in 2008 (just to remind me the wrapper and sticker from Oprah’s Book Club came on the book!).  Not to be deterred, I have dug in.  At the same time I’ve been leafing through another recent acquisition (a birthday present), The Book of Symbols: Reflections on Archetypal Images. Very cool book.  So why am I sharing my reading list with you?  I’ve started to stitch together some messages that have answered some long standing issues for me, and well, I bet someone else could use the insights I have gained.

In A New Earth, Tolle talks about the flower as the leap of faith that nature has made to express spirituality.  His point is that the flower exists in most cases to bring pleasure, to excite our visual senses, sometimes our olfactory sense and is a pure expression of that which our minds can not process through normal logical methods.  It takes a mental shift to get into the “zone” of appreciation when admiring a flower.  You really have to move into the left side of the brain and suspend linear thinking.  It takes “a leap of faith” to suspend and allow your spatial brain to be dominant for a while.  After some practice it gets easier and the chatter from the logical side settles down, the monkey mind sits quietly, and we find a deeper satisfaction and experience.  Tolle speaks of this as the origination of Zen.  I buy that.

Further on in the introduction (I’m slow but thoughtful in my reading) Tolle goes on to speak of artists expressing the essence of what they see.   It’s not the table but how the table feels, it’s not the face but the sensation that every wrinkle expresses.  The artist transcends the physical existence, and expresses the spirit.

Then while thumbing through The Book of Symbols I stopped to read the introduction.  After describing the method that the authors group used to determine what archetypal symbols should be included in the book – with a bow to Jung of course – they had a quote from Paul Klee that stopped me in my tracks, “Art does not reproduce the visible; rather, it makes visible.”  And time stopped.  Forty-five years of struggling against my work as an artist melted away.  It took me 20 years to understand that exact representation was not my forte (that hand never really looked exactly like my hand) and another 25 to give myself permission to embrace that.  It really was one of those life altering moments.  And I realized that drawing, creating, expressing the world through my spirit was creating the flower.

Wa hoo!

Out came the watercolors, the brushes, the paper, the pens and pencils that had all been packed away and I was ready to begin again.  It’s cool being a born again artist.  I’ve got a whole new perspective to work with and a lot more leeway in where my imagery can go.  Now it’s really fun.  Now there is energy.  Now there is the Zen of creating.

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