One of my earliest spiritual memories of my creative development occurred when, as a young teenager during the height of defining myself, I was really learning to draw. That experience made me realize that there is more to the world than what seems apparent. We can’t usually see the microscopic world or the telescopic world, nor the atomic, subatomic, or nonatomic world, but with a reverential eye we can see beyond the surface of things.

The Night After
The Night After

The drawing class, which was for seniors attempting to create a portfolio for art school was teaching me to develop my eyes to see the things I normally took for granted. I was amazed to realize that I had hardly seen a thing in 17 years. In class we were looking at shapes of shadows, the shapes of spaces between leaves, the surface quality on the edges of objects. This new seeing was awakening me to the world as if it were an entirely new place, and despite the joy of the experience I would leave Senior Portfolio class exhausted. The end of class usually meant a reversion to my “regular” vision, which meant my eyes were at rest.

One morning, however, my eyes didn’t go back to their old pattern. Instead, the sight I was cultivating stayed with me, and as I left the Tuft Building at Exeter High and crossed the section of pavement between to the two separate buildings on my usual route to Spanish class, I was literally stopped in my tracks. Every bench, every boulder, every leaf, seemed to be speaking to me.

Try to Control
Try to Control

I can only say that I felt as if each thing were revealing itself and calling out to me. There was a sound attached to this phenomenon, simliar to the deafening sound of crickets and grasshoppers. The air, the light, the objects, even my own body seemed porous and exposed. A window to another dimension of life had opened to me. I felt stunned at first, then privileged, as if I’d been allowed into another realm of the Universe.

The experience lasted a few days, then the “window” closed. Many years later while creating an oil painting after a long day of exploration, I experienced the same thing again, but only for a few hours. I cannot explain this phenomenon in any scientific way; I am not a scientist. Frankly, I don’t need any explanations; I simply experienced the incredible shimmering life that is usually invisible to us.  This remains a cherished, life-changing event that  has been an ongoing source of inspiration in my life and work.

I now call this process my creative mediation.

  • Kevin

    I love that feeling when you’re drawing and your hand and eyes and the subject all seem to be as one. I know exactly what you mean {{{ <3 }}}

  • obxdougart

    Being a “emerging” artist, I search for these creative moments, but they can be quite elusive; too much “noise” in the world. But, as you have described, they come about at unexpected times, though not frequent enough, and it all just seems to come together and I create. I’m glad to hear that I’m not alone in the sporadic experiences.

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