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 some 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.

– From the introduction to the artisans page


artisans’ gallery

slow art | flow

I in the Nothing

The dusky darkness spread like the network of a great tree.  In an elm the thrush was singing.  He was so hidden and one with the bushy twigs that I could only see him by his tail which twitched when his song altered.  Everything else was motionless except a broken twig which stirred and swung by a strip of bark.  As I went along I made an effort to climb out and get into these things – into the mysterious darkening and sealing of the earth, the quietening that is as the loveliest psalm of rest.  And at last I did.  I stood leaning on a gate.  I was behind the sky.  I was in the ground.  I was in the space between the trees.  My meaning grew in the earth and the firmament – I in the Nothing in which all is related.

– Margiad Evans

The Winter Journal, p39
The Autobiography of Margiad Evans, Oxford, Basil Blackwell, 1943

Source: the nonduality highlights

seeing without shadows

the act of seeing