Walk in Beauty

‘I work as I walk, not knowing what I might find…’ Geoff Yeomans, Painter – from catalogue notes to his exhibitions since 1989

Everywhere there is talk about our carbon footprints. And talk about organic food, farming, clothing, paint… but much less talk – save for a few like the Slow Food Movement and Satish Kumar – about organic time; the time it takes a tree to germinate and grow, fruit to ripen, a wounded heart or broken bone to heal.

Trying to keep up with the speed of the technology we’ve created, we eat, converse and hold meetings on the hoof and we often want ‘instant’ art. School art lessons are often so contracted that a formulaic ‘template’ provided by the teacher has replaced experience of an authentic creative process – with its surprising ups and downs, disturbing voids, intellectual challenges and ecstasies.

Try some instant image making – wet a piece of thick absorbent paper with a sponge, stretch, then drip thin water colour paint onto it – or food colouring if you don’t have paint – and watch, as clouds, veins, forests appear… dream.

Art making can be instant; a spontaneous flow of gesture leaving expressive marks, though often the best of this follows years of devoted learning to open eyes, heart, muscle and mind. Calligraphy, for example.

Equally, art takes time; preparation of water, paper, paint, looking, feeling, allowing marks, forms and images to arrive, interact and transform. Paintings, like novels, often have their own time and can’t be hurried. The sense of something arriving, something unresolved on the canvas, a character developing, is a physical sensation for many artists.

So art making is a wonderful medium for reconnecting with organic time. When we run through life we miss beauty – the sights, smells and touches of nature that nourish us. We go hungry amidst plenty. Art practice can slow us down and speed us up, play us like an instrument, as we find our own rhythm and timing, and leave us feeling deeply nourished.

This month we could focus on our feet, newly liberated into summer sandals and soft grass.

Our Footprint – Activity

Draw around your bare feet on a sheet of paper or an inch flat rolled slab of clay. Then ‘customise’ them further – decorate them to express yourself. You can simply play, following intuitive impulses as you choose colours, marks etc. or you can float questions in your mind, without seeking answers, and let your imagination respond creatively:

* How do your feet feel from the inside?

* How do you feel towards your feet? You can celebrate by beautifying them with colours, patterns…

* How and where we stand also has its seasons; are your feet firmly planted? Or are you currently uprooted, on the move, barely touching the ground?

* Do you feel yourself to be on a path? Or do you feel lost, at a fork in the path?

* How is the ground under your feet?

A simple art activity like this can be a window into ourself:

* How are we creating our imaginal world?

* How are we perceiving the world and responding to it? How is our place in the world?

* How is the ground where you stand, walk, your environment? How does your footprint influence it? What is your social & spiritual footprint?’ What radiates from your footprint?

Walk in Beauty, as the Navajo say.


Invitation to Join Our Discussion Forum
Do please share your experiences and discoveries on the forum – you may inspire someone else and pick up a new idea to try. Visit: /forums and contribute to the thread, Art Therapy. You’ll need to register with a username and password first, then click on the link to the private Global Family forum.

Beverley A’Court
June 2008

To find out more about Beverley and her work
Visit: www.art-therapy-uk.net

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