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I created this mixed media work using a process which combines elements of meditation and ‘stream of consciousness’ style drawing. In short, I attempt to clear my mind of all thoughts and distractions and allow my hand to do as it wishes with the pen.
In this instance I cleared my mind of all thoughts but one – Lucy – I thought about my experiences with her, her personality traits, her aura and how I perceive her, and allowed this to represent on the paper as expressed through the pen in my hand. I tried hard not to think about what might look good, I actively worked not to be influenced by learnt beliefs about what might work or not work, and aesthetic success. I am sure I wasn’t able to lose this element entirely, but my point is mainly that I did not actively ‘design’ the piece, but tried to allow expression to take precedence over formatting.
In terms of the watercolour element I assessed a few options, although I knew one of the main colours would be yellow – sunshine, happiness, positivity, strength, brightness, uplifting and mood enhancing. All qualities which came instantly to mind when envisioning Lucy. But I knew I also had to represent ‘the black’. Her dark place. Black didn’t feel right though. There’s no real blackness in Lucy, any dark places are just shadowed, less sunny elements of the yellow parts. Black implies a lack of colour, a lack of the qualities above, which isn’t right. Her dark parts are always colour underneath. Her soul, it seems to me, is made up of undulating waves, just colour and darker colour, no void, as black would suggest.
Dark blue seemed more appropriate. It captures the depth, of feeling and emotion; deep blue like a cool lake, beautiful and awe-inspiring but so deep that it retains an element of danger. It also reflects the light, rays of yellow sunshine passing through it and bouncing from it. Counteracting the darkness and revealing the depths. Without darkness there is no light, not one without the other. Both must exist in tandem. Ying and yang. Balance. The light is lighter than she thinks and the dark is not as dark as she fears.

Chestbomb

So let’s start with what this is for. In the beginning, my blogging was intended to identify for myself my purpose – to hone my skills and interests to help inform myself, really. Done.

So now what is it for? I did certainly find myself restrained by my own perception of what I thought people would like or be impressed by, and I censored the parts I thought they wouldn’t respond so well to; even if I liked or preferred these. That seems a bit mad really, the opposite of what I want to achieve. I want to head myself towards a state whereby I can fully express myself without fear of judgement.

Not that I wont BE judged, but that I wont validate or define myself by that judgement. Meditation helps a lot with this. Anything which drags you away from the minutiae is purposeful. Minutiae is my favourite word of the moment. It has become my byword for anything which allows us to lose sight of the big picture – which is basically everything / every minute. At this stage of our evolution, our whole consciousnesses have become overwhelmed by the minutiae. This can be beautiful and amazing, and it can be heartbreaking and awful. To me, spending an hour writing about my fears and worries is to be absorbed in the minutiae. To then make oneself aware of the fact that life will pass by very fast, we will die (relatively) soon and in 100 years we will be a distant ancestral memory, is re-affirming the big picture. Little things both matter and do not matter. They matter to each of us on a human level.

I am a strong believer in the importance of empathy and the belief that we need more of it. But allowing ourselves to see our own insignificance can remove pain – an an explicitly basic reminder that ‘all things must pass’. We live in an insanely complex world, where we become so bound up in the minutiae that our whole emotional and often physical state can be affected by things which are transient. Our tendency to become focused on these things is often greatly influenced by consumer culture. But if each time something makes you feel bad you can stop, take a breath and think – how much does this matter? Will this be a problem in 1 day / 1 week / 1 year? – you may find, as I have, that the problem immediately shrinks. Usually when I really pare it back I find that the only thing which stops me from letting it ALL go is my son. He is the only thing that when I ask the question – does it really matter – the answer is usually yes. He is what at my core of being is truly important, the rest is just management of circumstance and how you respond to it is within your control.

 

Father

Where is my mind? The Pixies asked the ultimate question in that famous song. Where IS my mind? And what is in it when I delve a bit further than the initial surface of daily routine? I’ve recently been getting interesting results from using pen and watercolour sketching and a semi-meditative state to discover the answer to this question.

My first step on the path to even exploring this was starting a mindfulness course a few years ago. I have subsequently taken the same course 4 times and am now beginning to explore further the many varieties of meditative techniques. Even just a few months of daily basic mindfulness meditation has given me a taste of how it feels to explore my own consciousness. I’m already far less skeptical than when I started, and the idea of meditating in my room is actually more of an attractive prospect than going out on the town! The concept is so ridiculously simple and obvious, I’m almost ashamed I haven’t just always done it. It’s unbelievable that modern life is so overwhelming that we have to re-teach ourselves just to stop; to actually listen to our own bodies and minds. Ironically for such a self-obsessed society, we don’t actually take much notice of our true internal voice.

Through this regular meditation I’ve had a number of interesting experiences, often dream-focused. I find that when I meditate I almost immediately return to a recent dream, I can’t change anything, so its not what they call ‘lucid dreaming’, but I’m in it, I can walk around it and explore it, and I get the same feelings and emotions I had when i was having it. My dreams now are different, they feel more like experiences than dreams and give me a strange sense of having been somewhere.

Quite by chance, I recently started doodling when I was focused on other things, as a stress release. I found that letting my instinct guide me resulted in some interesting imagery. As soon as I started regulating myself – ‘don’t put that line there’ etc. the pictures were far more dull and without the sense of freedom they had encompassed before. I tried to go back to the other technique and found that I could utilise the relaxation part of the mindfulness practice, but without switching off completely. Let the pen guide itself and do exactly what it wants. Don’t limit it, don’t think about what might look good or bad; basically don’t allow your conscious mind to impose the very limiting boundaries which are born of external influence.

The result is these images. I see these as an early experimentation phase, what might grow from further practice at this technique is yet to be discovered. It’s the first time I have not had to labour at a piece of art, the first time I haven’t had to ‘try’, haven’t had to worry about the end result. Releasing myself of that anxiety allows me to truly enjoy the process and I think that probably comes through in the imagery.

All works are pen and watercolour on paper and are for sale.

Visit my profile at Art Market Direct to purchase.

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