Unfinished

Today it occurred to me that I have accumulated a backlog of unfinished drawings and paintings. Rather than follow a rabbit trail that spirals into self-sabotage and despondency, I decided to try to see it in positive terms. What if unfinished artwork is not a sign of being distracted or undisciplined but a necessary part of creativity?

I’ll never forget one time when I was renting a studio which, as part of a heritage building in Fremantle, had frequent visitors who came to look at the building as well as the art in the studios there. Taking advantage of the sunny morning,I was working on the front porch when a man and his partner greeted me and asked if they could have a look at what I was painting. I was working on an intuitive, colourful artwork which as far as I was concerned was far from finished. He told me he wanted to buy it “as is”. “Can I just tweak this bit?” I said, motioning toward a part of the canvas that looked halfway between a bizarre-looking bird and a flower. “No, I really want to buy it as is” he replied.

Later as we were talking I found out that his daughter had died tragically in a car crash. My son was also claimed by the roads just two before at the time. We each had this acknowledgement that grieving parents share; an unspoken “you also understand this reality of living through the unthinkable”.  I realised just as his daughter’s life was unfinished, there was a poetic truth and melancholy beauty he could see in an unfinished artwork. Now more than ever, after losing my own precious boy, I am beginning to see that the true meaning of creating is not about product, but communication of ideas, thoughts and messy emotions. It’s about he communion and solidarity we share in being human and a bit broken and unfinished ourselves. 

Art unfinished is raw and candid. It reveals the artists state of mind before it is erased through the fine tuning we do to create an image that is deemed worthy of the external gaze.

I decided to photograph my unfinished pieces, not only to reflect on them but also to validate them as meaningful explorations. They are pockets of inspiration, which is valuable whether bought to fruition or abandoned. They silently protest the mantra of productivity we have in our culture. They remind me that it is the process of creating, not the end result that holds the true magic. The magic of responding to inner prompts and being brave enough to try and sometimes fail. 

 

Art tutorial inspired by illustrator Kay Nielsen

I’ve been steadily uploading some art tutorials and talks on Youtube lately. I feel a real call to offer some open-ended art ideas aimed at unlocking creativity, and just adding inspiration for those wanting to embark on their own creative journey. I hope you enjoy!

The Illusion of Independence- a Meditation about Love

We are like colours that collide and form an artwork.

We are like jewels that recognise the stardust in one another.

We see the face of God mirrored back to us.

The eternal truth that is at the core of all great spiritual teaching is to love God, and love others. Love is the supreme force of the universe generating creative power, healing and unity.

I don’t know about you, but when I think about how this can be accomplished in the day to day material stuff of life, I find myself out of my depth. I know it’s impossible to truly love and be devoted to God without loving others also.

I realised today that I was thinking about this in linear terms, or in terms of dominant culture which has essentially submerged all of us into a kind of illusion of independence. But we are not independent, we were never intended to be, either.

We are designed to live in community. All are needed, all have a part to play which goes way beyond just the bread and butter of existence, way beyond vocation, success, failure and finding a niche in life. It operates on an energetic, cellular level. Our actions and thoughts truly ripple out, affecting those around us for better or for worse. We are often unable to see how we affect others, especially when we have blessed or encouraged another human being. Deep is the mystery of how souls intertwine and nourish one another. Think of how plants grow- we can’t observe it happening in real time, but plants do indeed grow. Or how children grow physically at night while they sleep. The changes that happen quietly and in secret are the most profound. So too is that ripple effect of our souls. Who knows what that water will stir up or reflect.

To love others is to live with open palms to the world. To loosen our grip on our own ideas and let the water of love do as it will. We can have our intentions, yes, but we can neither know nor guide the outcome. I see it as a divine alchemy, as we come into contact with other souls in a somewhat random way. Jesus says that when we welcome or serve just one little child (or one small, seemingly insignificant anyone), we are also welcoming and embracing God. Love has a habit of hiding in the small and inconsequential.

My prayer is that this sense of unity and solidarity will wash over the world.

We were not made to be independent..we were never intended to be. There is no such thing as a small act of love, for love is found in the things that the world will overlook in it’s chaos. Love is often found in the quiet, the still, the hidden things

Art Meditation with Flowers!

I had loads of fun creating this. It’s my firm belief that an arts practise can be a form of meditation, deepening our ability to stay present in the moment, and also soothes our nervous system. For me personally it is also an outlet for spiritual and personal growth. Hope you enjoy 🙂

Water Baptism- a dream reflection

I want to share with you a dream I had, as the imagery was so powerful, it has given me much to reflect on. I’ve called the dream (and the painting above) ‘Water Baptism’

In the dream I was up in the clouds. There was a teacher with me, relating all sorts of wonderful things about a global perspective. I could see the horizon and the earth below, and it was glorious. But somehow I was slipping and wasn’t able to stay in the sky. So I fell. But the fall wasn’t dramatic as in many dreams, it was soft. I gently landed in the ocean, and woke up as I emerged, face first from the water, which was a beautiful aquamarine blue.

It feels like sacred ground to try to interpret this dream in a linear fashion. I think I will only be able to catch the overarching message, and trust that my deepest soul understands more than my conscious understanding. The most obvious metaphor to me, of the water at least, is baptism. Baptism is a way of representing an inner surrender, as death yields to life.

Submerged in the ocean, we are utterly engulfed by the water, but also buoyed up by it- if we relax. When we are drowning, they say the more we struggle to stay afloat, the more likely we are to actually drown because we are expending so much energy in our panic. To swim, one must learn the skill of relaxing into the water and thereby the body becomes its own life raft and floats. There is a humble beauty in yielding. To circumstances, to God, to who we are. In dreams every element can also be understood as parts of ourselves. So, even the body of water that held me is a part of me, perhaps that sacred space in my heart where God also dwells.

Dreams provide wonderful inspiration for art, and this one is no exception. For me, to paint a dream is a way of imprinting it onto my psyche, and I’m sure the meaning of this one will evolve just as I am evolving. Hopefully others too will be able to resonate with it, since after all, dream symbols are part of our collective unconscious.

St Theresa of Avila describes spiritual metamorphosis in terms of a butterfly which emerges after days and days of being in a cocoon spun around it’s body. It is changed on a cellular level, no longer resembling in any way the lumpen worm that chews its way through mulberry leaves. It’s not merely a worm with wings, it is utterly different, transformed. This body of water can also be seen in terms of a chrysalis. When we are in our mothers’ womb, we float in water, before we emerge into another reality…Truly, as the psalmist says; “Your ways are too wonderful for me too lofty to attain”. Some things are so beautiful and true that we can only trust that somewhere deep in our soul there is a flicker of understanding.

May we all find quiet trust in these waters as we surrender to it’s depths.