Einstein, like many scientists, said that all scientific theories begin in the imagination. I am writing this on ‘big bang’ day – as scientists in Switzerland prepare to collide protons at light speed – to mimic our universe’s (hypothesised) first moments. What’s grabbing my attention is the imagery; ‘big bang’…’dark matter’…’the god particle’… metaphors of mystery and imagination, evocative of ancient creation myths.This experiment is the culmination of 30 + years’ work for some of the scientists and engineers from over 100 nations, all captivated by mystery – What are we? Where did we come from? What will become of our universe? Any result will seed new questions and research.
And here it’s harvest time; golden bales patterning the landscape and trees like dark green fire. So for us exploring our lives and awareness through art, we can use art to contemplate our own ‘harvest’ – what is ripening for us now? What dreams or projects are coming to fruition? What beauty can we take to heart from our year so far, to enrich and sustain ourselves?
In a sense art making is often like the ‘harvest’ phase of a longer process, the cycle of seed, dormancy, germination, growth and ripening into form. Some art making can feel like scratching hopelessly at dry earth, preparing the seed bed, or looking for clean water, clearing out drains and digging irrigation channels. Personally I’m resting following our successful Observer Effect 08 conference here – but can feel the seeds of new paintings germinating. Meanwhile I don’t force art work, don’t call it ‘artist’s block’ but return to nature, harvesting vegetables, pruning trees for next year’s fruit. At most I draw broad beans, onions, play with cabbage colours.
This Month’s activity: Harvest Mandala
* you may enjoy looking at old folk art and craft traditions and play with creating your own version to celebrate and express gratitude for the wealth of your life – material and spiritual
* perhaps make a large family or work group harvest mandala, to honour personal and group achievements
* simply return to gesture and free mark making, as you trust whatever appears to be some aspect of your current ‘harvest’.
You can experiment with deepening the focus and intentionality of your art making by taking a few minutes to meditate before starting. The simple mantra – ‘my harvest’ may loosen remembrance of good things, losses, lessons and appreciations. Remember to relax your mind and loosen your grasp on any images that arise, before you actually start to draw.
If you tell yourself you have artist’s block – stop! Drop into where you are right now, honestly, without cosmetic adjustments. This is it, you are the cosmos, center and periphery. Like a curious scientific researcher ask; How is my world? Where are there ripe fruits? Where are seeds lying dormant, or on rough, untended ground? Where am I neglecting my ‘garden’? What are my successes, small and great?
Give yourself a few minutes, 1, 3, 5… to make marks with simple materials. Then just look.
Do these marks and images help you to see anything new about how you are?
Where you might be in the cycle of creativity?
Of course our many activities often ‘ripen’ at different times but I’ve observed that it sometimes helps to use this metaphor from nature to allow ourselves to live and work rhythmically, not always in active output-harvest mode.
We may need dormancy or simple repetitive task while seeds of new ventures germinate.
If you tell yourself you have artist’s block, perhaps you are not respecting some natural phase or maybe there’s a deeper reason.. which can be the subject of another blog.
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 our private Global Family forum.
To find out more about Beverley and her work