“And suddenly you know: it’s time to start something new and trust the magic of beginnings.” Meister Eckhart
The prepared support for a painting is both beautiful and intimidating as you stand before it. The canvas stretched taut, white from layers of gesso, ready to become almost anything your mind and skill can create. Here you stand once again, open to the magic and fear of the beginning. What awaits you in this new day, this new birth, this new painting? Are you ready? Do you see it without eyes? Find within what you but glimpsed without? Are you still, and sure, and is your submission complete?
Do we fear the great question because we cannot turn the last page of life and find the answer? Why can we find such joy in the simplest of flowers in our moments of true sight? How can the inconceivable image of infinity be contained in a blade of grass? And why must our brain kick into gear to seek an explanation for what has never been explained? Why is it not enough to embrace the beauty and magic in a flower, the flight of a bird, the dance of light in the sky? If happiness derives from what we know, who we know, what we have, then why does the joy found in deep meditation deepen as more and more of such things are shed into eternity? Why were we happier as children?
The blank canvas, in common with the dawn of a true awakening, waits for the moment of seeing beyond the filter of life’s learned expectations. You cannot simply pick up your joyful brush and follow a trail of emotions for even Jackson Pollack learned that he could not give himself to kinesis until he first saw what the painting should be. Manipulated emotional joy, a sort of manic intoxication, is as deceptive as unaddressed fear and to start a painting for the sheer release of painting is not only bad art but bad therapy. Emotions fade and attempts to justify painting or life becomes an intellectual excuse for a shallow existence.
When we begin to spread paint stroke upon stroke, color upon color, in the hope and feeling that a painting is becoming, or when we build up energy to burst from our house seeking to worship the first rose, we are still following or learned expectations and experiences. We may well find pleasure in spending some time with a daffodil or with a favorite painting but this is neither the true potential of a blank canvas nor the dawn of a new day.
“… trust the magic of beginnings.” Faith is the most useful, the most human component of the artist; faith that the image will come, that the painting will develop, that the quiet voice within, Dali’s Angel at your shoulder has not deserted you. And this voice, this angel, Socrates’ genius, is not your servant, not yours to command, nor to summon but quite the opposite- it demands that the artist wait patiently trusting to faith that the image will come and he must be willing to give himself to it.
The artist’s statement should be: “ I have given myself to this painting and when my thoughts are as clear and clean as this canvas, the true image will be within me and I will not hesitate a moment from doubt, ,but I will step into it, live within it as it lives within me, until the magic from this new beginning will simply be Love.”
Here is the secret of the masters of life and art: Art is simply a Life of Faith.