I've been reading an interesting book by Chicago-based art therapist, artist and teacher, Pat Allen. (check her out at www.patballen.com). The book, Art Is a Spiritual Path isn't the easiest read as Pat likes her sentences long and listy, but I'm loving that she's taken on art making as a spiritual practice. (So much better than times on one's knees.) And I'm grateful to her for articulating a process for paying attention, i.e., go to the studio, state an intention, inquire, engage, celebrate and witness. Often, one of these elements is missing.
I have found that the best way to turn what could be a spiritual practice into a form of masturbation is to work or play without intention, or without celebration.
It's true at work. It's true in the kitchen. Last night I found myself slamming drawers and bumping into edges. It actually hurt to bang a drawer. There was no grace to my movements and, as a result, no grace to myself. Yet I was neither upset nor rushed. If I choose from the elements above, I could say I was not engaged. Does it matter? Yes. I want all my movements to be engaged movements. Full movements. I am tired of ignoring the small moments but at the same time, I don't want to make every move I make precious.
(I'm thinking here that a beautiful painting could be made of a woman working in her kitchen and a beautiful scene of a drainboard full of mixing bowls, their creamy bellies catching the light, a chipped green rim suggesting many many Christmas cookies. Precious?)
Here is an image from an early altered book. It was done without intention. I had no idea what prompted it. Still don't. It does make me laugh and I like the observant dog. I like the shameless bared breasts and the pear shape of the figure. Is everything we do a self-portrait? What if we don't recognize ourselves?