meditative process made visible
How does one define meditative process or practice? In the context of this website, meditative artisanship (drawing, painting, crafting, sculpting etc) is taken to mean working in way that stills the mind and disappears the self. The artisan-identity melts into a creative rhythm referred to as ‘flow‘.
For some, this occurs almost automatically when they begin work – in this case it would seem that they are creating from an already-still mind. For other artisans however, intention and application are required, hence the term ‘practice’.
For other artisans their work/practice becomes obsessive and addictive – with or without negative implications. (Yayoi Kusama, for example.) For others ‘flow’ is quickly recognized as one’s natural state – the “way things are meant to be,” to quote Rollo May.
Meditative process and engagement with ‘flow’ is a common experience among artisans, although they might not refer to the experience in those terms. Yet many artists who practice meditation proceed to create ‘visionary’ or ‘mystical’ artworks – creating illustrations of something experienced, known, rather than expressions from the unknown. In the context of this site these artists are not included. The reason for this is simple: true meditation is a journey which leaves the self, its thoughts, ideas and opinions behind. The ego-self doesn’t like this at first, and when anthropomorphic images arise in the imagination, it very quickly recognizes them and is comforted. The next step is an incredibly subtle projection of one’s identity into the image.
This is where the meditative artisan’s practice departs quite radically from that of the visionary artist – they don’t settle for the infinite array of images the brain is capable of generating. They wait for the end of thought. They wait for the silent mind. It takes a certain complex combination of personal experience and disposition – coupled with curiosity and courage – to enter into this ‘no-thing-ness’ and await the clarity of action that inevitably emerges. Action, not idea or design.
This is not to say that all meditative art will be non-figurative or entirely abstract. (Still Life can open a window onto the infinite: see Amanda Robins) What it does imply is that there will seldom be an accompanying narrative. The meditative artist doesn’t have things to say. He or she simply has things to make – things that are exquisitely capable of speaking for themselves.
View the artisans’ gallery of thumbnail images
In the context of nondual, or meditative, art I often use the term ‘artisan’ rather than ‘artist’ because this type of work typically requires a great investment of time and patience. Makers of meditative usually art craft their works with impeccable care.
… in the pure craft the great artist leaves no trace of his personality whatsoever,
you just have the craft.
– Namgyal Rinpoche
Historical artisans such as Cezanne, Monet and Picasso are listed here because they challenged and irrevocably changed the way we see, as well as the hallowed traditions of ‘fine art’. To avoid excesses of subjectivity in my selection of more contemporary artisans I have decided to limit the list to those whose work fits the criteria above, who have spoken about their work as meditative practice/process or in non-dual terms, or whose work has been critiqued from this perspective. I have found it a challenge to track down such artisans – suggestions are very welcome!
Contemporary artists and artisans whose work appears on this site:
Historical artists and artisans whose work appears on this site:
john daido loori
|leonardo da vinci
Links to external sites:
gordon onslow ford
| yahne le toumelin
nadja van ghelue
francisco de zurbaran