Friday, 29 July 2011
I wondered what it would be like to read Werner's four steps as applying to painting rather than music...
We have talked a lot about the impurities of your purpose, your work, and your approaches. Now we are going to look at a method of deprogramming and reprogramming. There are four steps in making this change in your life.
Step One introduces you to the inner self. It is a kind of meditation, a sharp contrast to the space people usually draw or paint from. As previously stated, many have experienced this state from activities like riding a bicycle, running or swimming, meditating and chanting, various martial arts and ancient tea ceremonies. Zen and yogic traditions are drenched in the awareness of this space. I've met artists who have studied other disciplines and have attained the fruits of those disciplines, but could not retain the awareness while painting. It is just a matter of touching your materials in that state, but they could never do that because they missed one little point: you must surrender the need to make a good painting. Otherwise you can't really let go!. Simple, but not easy! Learn a way of attaining inner balance and approach your materials in that space.
The first two steps will help you observe all the thoughts and pressures connected with your materials. You will learn to let go and love whatever you see coming out. This is absolutely necessary to escape your dilemma. You can't fake it! Step One will help you get in touch with your intuitive self by bypassing the conscious mind, the epitome of all limited drawing and painting. Physically, you will intuitively move towards the most effortless and efficient way of using your particular materials. Daily practice will allow you to become familiar with the more effortless movements, or perfect pencil grip, delicate lines, or whatever. You will gravitate to the physical position that allows you to draw or paint without leaving the space.
Step Two is the retention of that awareness while the hands explore your materials in a free improvisation. I don't mean the style of abstract art, but the intent. Your hands are free to wander, without your conscious participation. Again, this is only possible if you can release the need to make something good for a few moments.
If Step One and Two are analogous to crawling, Step Three is beginning to walk. In Step Three you will learn how to do simple things from this consciousness. The natural space you developed forms a foundation from which you relearn how to work. In this step, forms, colours and shapes begin to appear through you in intelligent form. You start to experience what wants to be drawn, and what you can comfortably draw. You learn to stay within yourself and not be seduced by your ego. Just as the space established your natural connection to your materials and the marks you made, it now establishes what can be made effortlessly with line, paint, collage or whatever. But it will also be the start of becoming real, and your work will be built on more solid ground. Leaving the ego out of painting will remove the drama of trying to paint what you wish you could paint. You will be practicing the wisdom of accepting, with love, what you can paint from the space.
The space itself is the teacher, and life becomes centred around learning to connect with the space. Drawing and painting become secondary. You remember past works not in terms of how well you painted, but by how much you let go. Those are usually the best paintings anyway, but now the priority has changed. You're no longer bothered by what is out there, but absorbed by what is here.
You're not condemned to your present level of working for life, however, because in Step Four you begin a process of change and growth. Built on the solid foundation of the first few steps, with detachment and calm, and with self-love, you begin trying things that can't be done effortlessly. Not only do you work from the space, but you don't assume you've mastered anything until it produces itself from that space. Step Four will help you acquire a taste for absorption into a subject, rather than skimming uselessly over many subjects. The discipline of patience overtakes you as you wait in a detached way for mastery to occur in what you are doing. Every practice session becomes a link in a chain, a patient process that moves you towards your goal.