The Meditation of Making Art

Stillness of Winter

The stillness of winter. Such a perfect time to meditate and get really still with yourself.

So often I find there is a intersection of mindfulness and art.

Muchacho

My daily walks with this guy are a staple of my balance in life.

The most life changing book I ever read was “A New Earth” by Eckhart Tolle. That was 10 years ago. It started me on a path to mindfulness. The simplest definition of mindfulness is being present in each moment as it unfolds. All you have is this very moment. Meditation is a tool to help you practice being in the moment.

Space to Think

Views like this give me space in my head to think.

Then, a few years back, I took the class “Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction” through the Grand Rapids Center for Mindfulness. That helped me get into the practice of daily meditation. That has been instrumental in keeping me present and helping me listen and really be with myself in each moment.

What does this all have to do with art? Everything. Being present with your art as you create is harder than you might think. But it is also the path to happiness in the studio. If you become very curious about your art, about your brushwork and where it’s going, that is perhaps the very essence of making art. You learn more about your art when you’re present. This also relates to the bigger picture of your career; for me, that career is art.

Inspiration

And views like this are a inspiration.

It’s still January, and for many, myself included, that’s about setting a course for your year, setting goals and thinking about the next big project. It kind of tripped me up this year. No big ideas were coming to me. I thought about many of the goals I set for myself in the past that I’ve achieved. Achieving them didn’t change my life. Yes, they mattered, but really, after achieving a big goal or honor, you wake up and get back to work the next day.

Winter in Leelanau

A winter view of Leelanau. I spent the new year up here, meditating on the stillness.

As I meditated at length around the new year, all I could think of was slowing down. Not working less, just dreaming forward a bit less. No big projects, no big goals, just being really present with the work and focusing on that. Not feeling guilty about the time I take for me: the time meditating, yoga, and walking my dog every day. But instead, honoring all those things as part of the process — not things that take me away from my art, but things that bring me closer to making the art I want to make.

So this is my goal in 2018: to slow down, learn more, feel guilty less. And to focus on the meditation of art as a goal in and of itself.

What are your rituals for goal setting? And what are you focusing on in 2018? I love hearing from you! Let’s chat on Facebook and Instagram.

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