“The heart of creativity is an experience of the mystical union; the heart of the mystical union is an experience of creativity.”
― Julia Cameron, The Artist's Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity
For me the connection is very strong. At times the two practices run in parallel in my life, at other times the practices overlap and it is hard to distinguish one from the other.
Each practice enlarges my interior life, each practice requires solitude. Solitude is essential to connect to my spirit, to my innermost desires.
When I first felt the deep peace within through centering prayer, it was familiar to me form those times when working in the studio and I was “in the flow”.
As artists, the path overlaps with the spiritual in terms of development that occurs along the journey.
When sitting in meditation one learns to observe ones thoughts, ceasing attempts at control you learn to to neither engage nor resist but just allow them to pass.
During the art process you must also relinquish control, many are the times where I can not tell at all where this painting is going, I must trust the process and continue.
An act of faith is required both when we begin to pray and when we begin to create an art piece.
As an artist I must ( and I presume all others artists must) allow my self to work without knowing the outcome, I must allow myself to not know the answer I must proceed with the painting accepting uncertainty. This is similar to “stepping out in faith”.
The critical cynical voice that condemns our work or our self worth must be quieted and replaced with a compassionate judge who will help us re-order, edit, delete, change, amplify or celebrate as needed.
Both practices teach one about detachment from outcome. Both spiritual and artistic detachment require not a shutting off of emotion but rather an alertness and awareness . You must be truly present in the moment, attentive to emotions and energy flow.
You witness emotional reactions without criticism and you release the urge to analyze or justify. You develop a sense of curiosity.
Through both practices we are drawn to be more compassionate with ourselves and others.
Each practice is at heart, a conversation with all beings, we seek fellowship. Artists seek to create a bond with the viewer who will eventually look on the piece and create meaning for themselves.
The calling of the artist, in any medium, is to make it new. I do not mean that in new work the past is repudiated; quite the opposite, the past is reclaimed. It is not lost to authority, it is not absorbed at a level of familiarity. It is re-stated and re-instated in its original vigor. Leonardo is present in Cézanne, Michelangelo flows through Picasso and on into Hockney. This is not ancestor worship, it is the lineage of art. It is not so much influence as it is connection…
The true artist is connected. The true artist studies the past, not as a copyist or a pasticheur will study the past, those people are interested only in the final product, the art object, signed sealed and delivered to a public drugged on reproduction. The true artist is interested in the art object as an art process, the thing in being, the being of the thing, the struggle, the excitement, the energy, that have found expression in a particular way. The true artist is after the problem. The false artist wants it solved (by somebody else). If the true artist is connected, then he or she has much to give us because it is connection that we seek. Connection to the past, to one another, to the physical world… A picture, a book, a piece of music, can remind me of feelings, thinkings, I did not even know I had forgot.
Art Objects: Essays on Ecstasy and Effrontery Jeanette Winterson