ARTheology by Visionary Artist Alex Grey.
“Let’s make up a new word. ARTheology is the transmission of spiritual guidance through the arts. The arts have played a crucial role in parable and the recounting of iconic moments from all world religions. Theology, or the collection of knowledge related to the study of God, has influenced the sacred art of every tradition. It wasn’t really up to the Tibetan artist what a particular Buddhist Thangka painting would include. There was a prescribed assembly of relevant symbols that gave any image its power. The meaning was imbued on the art from a religious context. Sacred art is clothed in the language of the essential truth of that faith. When the purpose of art is our own salvation or liberation, we trust the good intentions of the author that art is being performed for God’s sake.
How can art be redemptive in a post-modern, pluralistic, trans-denominational world? If art’s mission is to make the soul perceptible, then all expressions are redemptive for the artist. Creation IS redemption. To complete the soul being perceived by another, the art must be shared. The social context of art is necessarily an ethical arena where the intentions of the artist toward the beholder are central to the message in the work. An artist fulfilling the sacred legacy of their profession, dedicates their work to the liberation of all beings. Their art is uniquely suited to be a tap root to the collective psyche and zeitgeist of the moment, to potentiating an historic evolution of consciousness. When a sacred understanding informs a community of people, the community can make art together, the pinnacle of which is temple building.”
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“The most important thing about art is to work. Nothing else matters except sitting down every day and trying. Why is this so important? Because when we sit down day after day and keep grinding, something mysterious starts to happen. A process is set into motion by which, inevitably and infallibly, heaven comes to our aid. Unseen forces enlist in our cause, serendipity reinforces our purpose. This is the other secret that real artists know and wannabe writers[artists] don’t. When we sit down each day and do our work, power concentrates around us. The Muse takes note of our dedication. She approves. We have earned favor in her sight. When we sit down and work, we become like a magnetized rod that attracts iron filings. Ideas come. Insights accrete. Just as Resistance has its seat in hell, so Creation has its home in heaven. And it’s not just a witness, but an eager and active ally. What I call Professionalism someone else might call the Artist’s Code or the Warrior’s Way. It’s an attitude of egolessness and service. The Knights of the Round Table were chaste and self-effacing. Yet they dueled dragons. We’re facing dragons too. Fire-breathing griffins of the soul, whom we must outfight and outwit to reach the treasure of our self-in-potential and to release the maiden who is God’s plan and destiny for ourselves and the answer to why we were put on this planet.” From “The War of Art” by Stephen Pressfield.
Time. Time. Time. There never seems to be enough of it for many of us so it seems. I hear this often in the media and from friends, clients, family. There are some days I feel it myself. But committing to our creative calling requires slowing down and showing up day after day, trusting that the universal creative energy and the Muses support us in our work. In January, I committed to finishing a large (48 x 48”) mandala painting, or what I am referring to as an Illumination of the Garden that is right here, right now. Through my deep immersion and devotion, the piece has evolved into a triptych and will include an Eve/Lunar/Feminine panel and an Adam/Solar/Masculine panel as well. Together, the paintings will total 96 x 48.” Sometimes it requires a sacrifice in order to commit to our artistic calling. As Pressfield writes, we must be warriors in service to our art. In January, I chose to be a warrior with my time and to let go of other commitments including my January newsletter (apologies), social engagements, cleaning the house, returning phone calls, etc. But that is part of the creative journey, albeit at times what can feel like an isolating one. Ultimately, it is just me and the canvas (the blank page for some of us) along with faith that Spirit is guiding my hand. I trust in the Divine mystery that this is what I’m here to do.
I’m also thankful to fellow artist and nature mystic Rod MacIver from Heron Dance and his insights from his daily e-journal. He wrote recently:
I remind myself this morning why I’ve chosen to live my life this way, to devote myself to art: It is about what is sacred inside us and in the greater universe. It is my role as the artist to explore and optimize that relationship, or those two relationships. If we often fail, it’s okay. Sticking with the struggle is its own triumph.
So, if you’re feeling a nudge toward your art, carve out some time for it. Trust. Breathe in to the anxiety of beginning. Open to it. Be a warrior and let go of diversions (email/TV/chores) in order to answer your Divine calling. 15-30 minutes every morning informs the universe you are serious and it will make a difference. “Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it.” -Goethe