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Art and meditation experiment.

Kim HolmMar 28, 2020, 8:57:15 AM

I’ve been wanting to write either a short and practical guide or a long and in depth piece about art and meditation, and started writing both many times. But this is neither.

In this time of pandemic, mindfulness and meditation is certainly needed, but finding the mindspace to actually write something that makes sense is difficult. So I’ll just scribble down a few notes to accompany a little video about an en plein air meditation experiment I did shortly before the lockdowns. Remember, if you’re living near nature, spending time in nature is a perfectly acceptable way of spending your social isolation, as long as you don’t act like a jerk.

(There’s been numerous reports of quarantined people acting like jerks while hiking, so it seems the corona-virus may be attacking peoples common sense and courtesy).

Meditation can be generally divided into focused meditation, like meditation on a mantra and drawing mandalas or colouring books, or open meditation, like most mindfulness meditation and automatic drawing. Common to all these forms of meditation, and all art meditation, is that you try to abandon thoughts of right and wrong, abandon your value judgements, and accept things as they are. And whenever your mind strays, you acknowledge and accept it, and focus back on your breath, or back on your mantra.

This en plein air exercise was done in oil at the top of one of the local mountains. I started by centering my focus on my breath. Then I laid out my palette, and started trying to make observation about colour and placement, bit by bit. So that may seem exactly the same as I do whenever I’m outdoors painting as usual. The difference, however, is that instead of engaging my critical faculties and examining each and every stroke to death, I tried to let go and just acknowledge them, and focus back on my breath again. So quite simply, it’s painting focused on the experience of painting, not on the final result.

And speaking of results, the result of painting in a mindful and meditative way was not only a finished en plein air sketch, but more importantly it was coming out of the painting experience with a refreshed mind. Painting outdoors can be very stressful if you’re a perfectionist, but letting go of that judgemental self is a great way of making it into a tool for rejuvenation.

If you want some more video and text about art and meditation, please comment, and I’ll try to get the mindspace to actually do a proper job of it.

Painting and model.