Horses · Portraits

Working Meditation

“The essential thing is to work in a state of mind that approaches prayer.” Matisse

I am taking a break from adding details to a commissioned piece of a beautiful black and white Tennessee Walker horse. Shades of brown and gray make up the landscape as the sun is just past the peak of noon on a late autumn day. Snoopy, the horse, has been gone for around five years now, but his presence is still felt daily. He has become a muse, of sorts, for my customer, and I have the beautiful opportunity to capture the wisdom and love of Snoopy. As I critique my progress, I am convinced that more is needed even though a well meaning friend says, “Awww, it’s perfect just the way it is!” I smile, and think to myself, “not yet.” Even though I do not know what is “missing,” I know that my muse will!

Isn’t that the way with artists of every kind? Whether our canvas is a baker’s pan, a block of stone, a ball of yarn, or an actual stretched canvas, we know that inspiration will come. Like Henri Matisse noted, creating art is a meditation, a prayer, in motion. When I look at a blank canvas, my immediate reaction is probably best described as panic. Panic is then quickly followed by doubt as thoughts of “who do I think I am” rumble around in my mind. But, and it is a big BUT, as soon as the paintbrush hits the palette and finally the canvas, something magical happens. Stroke after stroke, blend after blend, shade before shade. . .what once was just a reference is now a finished piece. I stand back and stare. When did this happen? Wow!

And so it goes, working in gratitude. . .that prayer, that meditation–and I am fortunate enough to live this life. I think that each time I complete a piece I find it easier to begin the next. Instead of comparing my work to others, I celebrate the talent that streams through me and rejoice in sharing it with the world. I’m always surprised when a piece sells right away, or two people are wanting the same original, or I get accepted into a juried show. But should I be surprised? Probably not, because when anyone works from a place of love, of meditation, of truth. . .how can the result be anything but joyful? So many times we as a society look at work as drudgery; we complain of long hours, ungrateful customers, and low wages. What if, and it is another big one, WHAT IF we all changed our approach to our work, maybe even call “work” something else? Would everyone benefit from the love, truth, and joy that went into every cup of coffee served, every product shipped or rung up at a local cash register, every green bean picked and consumed? Ahhhh, therein lies the rub. . .as for me, my art will be created in meditation. . .and really, studio time is not work, is it? –Nicki

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