I know quite a few artists who will agree that creating constitutes a "spiritual experience," in one way or another. And I agree that this can often be true.
But then there's the next layer.
And that's the layer I have worked with, for the past 6-7 years.
It's the layer in which you are not only creating — as an artist — the the "what" of your creating is intended to be more than just a "thing" for the person who ends up owning it, it is also a "spiritual tool," in some sense.
I absolutely can "claim" that I make "pretty painted stones," and for many people, that is as far as they choose to go with it. And I'm totally OK with that! No attachment!
But I am also "tasked" — or maybe inspired — to create meditation objects; art that is going to do more than just look pretty on a shelf. Instead, it is going to potentially be part of a person's spiritual practice.
The Herb Garden Analogy
Sometimes it's difficult to clarify the nature of "sacred art."
I like to use the analogy of an herb garden when I try to explain it to people.
Some people just grow herbs because they enjoy it, and they like the way the herbs taste on their food.
But some people grow herbs that are grown with extra care and nurturing because they are going to be purchased by someone who's going to (for example) make essential oils with them.
Whereas both of these scenarios involve — basically — the growing of herbs, there's a greater level of attention and commitment associated with the latter.
And so it is, with the field of "spiritual art."
Created for the Four Directions
Isn't That a Bit Self-Important?
There was a time when questions like that made me sincerely doubt what I was doing, and how I felt about what I was doing. How "dare" I suppose that I am creating something more than "just a painted rock?"
In time I have learned that... well "haters will hate," and you can't please everyone, all the time.
In fact, that can often be a major downfall for artists and other creatives... we try too hard to make everyone happy, and lose a good bit of our own authenticity in the process!
Perhaps our true downfall is that harbor illusions (de-lusions?) that more than a fairly modest percentage of the world even has the potential to be interested in — and attracted to — our work to a sufficient degree that they actually wish to own something we have created.
I'd love to think I could have a million fans, but objectively speaking... if I can just have a couple of thousand fans worldwide, I'm going to be doing really, really well!
Made this for a friend who was struggling with depression. The yellow conveys light and positivity.
How My Art BECAME "Spiritual"
Some years back — I think it was 2014 — my wife and I set up as vendors at my first "serious" arts and crafts fair.
One of the interesting things that came out of that weekend was a couple of massage therapists, a Yoga teacher and a child psychologist each pretty much going nuts over the stones.
Not so much because they were "pretty" (although that was part of the deal), but because there was "something" about them that suggested they could be used as "spiritual healing tools."
We saw the child psychologist several years later, and she explained that she now kept the 6-7 stones she'd purchased in a basket in her office, and whenever she had an appointment with a basically "unruly" kind she could reach, she'd invite them to choose a stone, go sit on the couch and just look at it.
Somehow — within a few minutes — the child would become more focused and they would be able to start having a conversation.
And some stones are just pretty...
Years Have Passed
A lot has changed, since that experience.
It's a different "beast" to create art that "does" something, as opposed to art that pretends to be no more than aesthetically interesting and potentially conveys a message.
Creating art as tools feels more and more "multi-disciplinary" to me, in the sense that it combines my own meditation and mindful practice with the heart of creativity.
I'm willing to admit that might sound a little pompous... but if you stop and think about it; many artists use their art to express things like anger, rage, disappointment and so forth... which is precisely as it SHOULD be, but you don't get to do that if what you're creating is expected to help someone be calm or even heal in some way.
It's like "angry food" at a restaurant doesn't taste as good... you can taste that the chef was having bad day.
And so, balance matters... and I have learned to take that quite seriously.
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