Revisitation of Lessons: Emanation
When “the end” of something comes into view, we sense a change of direction and we dance our steps in accordance to all that has been and to all that will be. I have, before me, a road of high thought-traffic laden with intense billboards of created imagery, and littered with past ideas crumpled up, thrown out, and continuously traveled over.
In beginning my portfolio/thesis/dissertation (can any title contain the appropriate reference to ones devoted research?), I am traveling back through stale writing, printed thoughts, and dry paint marks. My preparation invites reflection. In the autumn of 2010 I wrote the segment (included below) regarding the artistic process of letting go. Layering sound, mixing color, stomping feet to multiple beats, and etching repeated cross-hatched patterns are the “artworks” but pausing, silencing, stepping back from, and letting go of solidify the existence of a created moment. The in-between moments of lying in Child’s Pose or on one’s back in yoga allow for the completion of a pose and promote restorative healing.
Recently in the high school “Advanced Drawing and Painting” class that I teach, I gave my students a chapter reading titled: “Emanation: Anything truly novel and significant come through unwatched, unintended, daimonically,” from the book Trust the Process: An Artist’s Guide to Letting Go, by Shaun McNiff (1998). As I re-read the packet, I realized my artistic process has aligned to McNiff’s thoughts, such as authentic art manifesting from intuition, exploration, genuine intent, and personal interest. My art has grown into an autobiographical expression of living communication. In the past, my motivation was from a desired outcome but in the present I am compelled to create from mysteries of the unknown and by experiencing the process. “We don’t necessarily know what the final product will look like, and the surprised offered by the work are one of its most satisfying qualities. The experienced creator is forever intrigued with the unplanned results that emerge from faithful practice” (McNiff, p.34). The trust within our practice results in freeing and bountiful creativity.
Every person arrives at their methods of expression and mindfulness through different paths and different mediums; I began my adventure of addressing sensitive content (that I felt a need to communicate) through comfortable media (painting, photography) and as my trust grew I ventured into unfamiliar media such as performance, everyday routines, and food. My meditations, research, and mindfulness have aided in my ability to establish deep artistic trust. I agree with McNiff when he states, “If the ego is always in command, there is no room for the truly unusual and new insights to appear…The control factor has to step aside and let the other faculties of creation exercise themselves” (p.35-36). By concentrating on the flow of the pigment, the glide of a skater’s stride, the colors and textures of raw foods, and the bursting morning sunlight over the Autumn fog, I have become enlightened, aware, and more and more creative with each day.
As the “here and now” become more centralized and felt, experiencing the creation of art is more recognized. McNiff suggests to, “Keep your primary emphasis on the process of moving with the materials by watching how the forms and visual qualities of the media change in relation to your gestures…Without becoming overly critical of your work or too concerned with its visual presentation, try pausing after each new gesture as if you are involved with a meditation” (p. 38). By becoming both the creator and the witness of the work, one is able to have a closer relationship with the work. I will also add that by doing so, one is also able to experience the work from multiple avenues. I am reminded of my paintings: I am conscious of the water seeping across the paper, pulling pigment, creating swirls of colorful hues, melting the edges of lines, and gathering into puddles on any low spots of the surface. The movement of the painting is like watching the life of the work. Furthermore, when I am creating raw foods, I am moving through the space of the kitchen as I touch and handle each piece of fruit or vegetable. I am aware of the characteristics of each ingredient (each subject) as I manipulate, change, and alter the pieces. Making a plate of raw food recipes requires my present attention just as standing in front of a blank canvas forces my participation. Observation and participation begin to fuse together. “The ability to see what is happening to the material is an important feature of the creative process” (McNiff, p. 38). And so we arrive at “Emanation:” the coming from, emergence, and continuous creation upon each past predecessor. I find the word to be perfectly fitting to describe any artistic practice so much that I wonder why I have not pondered the concept before. But then I realize that I have been building a thought process which would invite such a thought- emanation has arrived because of what I have already learned/created.
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