As part of my morning routine, I like to read one of the daily affirmations shared in Science of Mind magazine. I became acquainted with this magazine many years ago. Based upon the teachings and philosophy of Ernest Holmes, the magazine calls itself A Guide for Spiritual Living.
On one recent morning, my “quiet time” of reading and affirmation led me to think about the spiritual aspects of art. Soon I was browsing online to learn more.
The arts have always been integral to religion. Sacred pictures, sacred symbols, sacred dances, chants, hymns and tunes have been used in rituals, in places of worship, and as aids to prayer and meditation in every religion. – From “Art and Spirituality“
Of course, I’ve long seen the connections visually. One doesn’t have to delve too deeply into art history to find religious paintings and know their importance. Every culture has sought to express its religious and spiritual beliefs and practices through their art.
At times, I’ve probably also felt the connection, but I’ve never actually thought of my drawing and painting as part of a true spiritual practice. Yes, I’ve done intuitive, meditative drawing, and that’s part of spiritual art, I suppose. Still, I’ve never fully integrated art and spirituality.
On that particular morning, the daily affirmation was this:
Today I am aware, awake, and enthusiastic.
The reading was about mindfulness, about paying attention to the world around us. As I read, I came to these thoughts:
When we manage to stay in that awakened state, the world seems magical. We notice the colors, the sounds, the intricacies of a flower, the beauty of nature, the joy of laughter. — From: Science of Mind Daily Affirmations
I did a double-take. How many times have I said almost these same words when describing how I’ve come to see the world anew as an artist? I’ve shared my thoughts many times about how becoming an artist changed my awareness of the world, how I began to see differently.
Yes, as artists, we do notice colors, we do see the intricacies of a flower, we do become ever more aware of the beauty of nature. In so many ways, art can be a spiritual practice, an active form of meditation, a visual prayer. We truly connect with the divine through the creative processes of art.
For me, finding and strengthening these connections will be an important part of my own creative process, not in an overt way, not by creating “religious” or “spiritual” images, but through a new awareness of the world around me. I want to be more mindful, more attuned to the creative aspects of life itself. Today I will be aware, awake, and enthusiastic.
As always, I want to learn more, and I’ve come across a few interesting references, some of which are readily available, some of which might be nearly impossible to find:
- The Spiritual in Art: Abstract Painting 1890-1895. This was the catalog for an exhibition at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, also shown at the Chicago Museum of Modern Art and the Haags Gemeentemuseum in the Hague during 1986 and 1987. The lavishly illustrated exhibition catalog is still in print; it includes seventeen extensive essays by various scholars which trace the spiritual interests and motivations of abstract painters during this period.
- Concerning the Spiritual in Art, Wassily Kandinsky. An essay regarding the evolution of human consciousness and spirituality, including a detailed explanation of the symbolic weight and significance of various colors and shapes.
- An Art of Our Own: The Spiritual in Twentieth Century Art. A history of 20th century art from a spiritual perspective.
Other resources for mindful creativity are:
- Conscious Creativity: Look, Connect, Create by Philippa Stanton
- Trust the Process: An Artist’s Guide to Letting Go by Shaun McNiff
- Art is a Way of Knowing by Pat B. Allen
These are only a few titles that deal with the topics of art, creativity, spirituality, and all the connections between them.
For me, this simple daily affirmation — Today I am aware, awake, and enthusiastic — is quickly leading me toward further study (and practice) of abstract art. I’m excited to learn more and to create more. Most of all I’m excited to see what I can learn from artists like Kandinsky and how his thoughts on abstraction will influence and shape my landscape art.
2022 is going to be an exciting year for me. I can feel it. Celebrate with me today, please! Let’s all celebrate our creativity, our awareness, and the connections between them.