Tuesday, June 16, 2009
After a delicious dinner in the dining hall at Pilgrim Pines, prepared with food grown at the retreat center, we gathered in one of the rustic meeting rooms assigned to us and Rassouli gave an opening talk on the agenda for the retreat. He also spoke about the interplay of music and painting as well as Fusionart’s approach as an expression of the soul. He then put on some marvelous Middle Eastern music to inspire us, and we began to paint. This music always opens my heart, and I quickly entered a meditative state in which I was experiencing a feeling of enchantment and romance. Automatically I began applying the colors I was seeing with swirling brushstrokes. I had no preconceived idea of what I would paint. I was just immersed in the process. This is the part of me that can create because it does not judge. Rassouli noticed that the strokes were creating 2 figures. He then used my unfinished painting as an example of how beautifully the soul can reveal itself when we allow it to express itself freely. I continued to develop the painting, which I titled Etheric Embrace (below), for the rest of the evening.
Bright and early at 7 o’clock, the crowing of the retreat center rooster served as my alarm clock. I thought, now I know I am truly in the country. Breathing in the fresh invigorating air as I made the quick walk down the hill to the dining hall for breakfast was a luxury that cost nothing. After enjoying a breakfast of eggs laid by the Pilgrim Pines hens, we reconvened at our “playshop” to continue creating. Mehrdad, a fellow Fusionartist, put on some of his amazing music and we were on our way again. This time my consciousness was suffused with a feeling of profound peace, and a scene in rich shades of blue appeared before me. Embracing its mystery, I was completely content in this world. I was reminded again that we must follow what we love, whether we understand it or not. Let go or be miserable. I choose surrender over resistance to love, happiness over suffering. After I don’t know how long, I returned from my creative state to observe what I had created. Below is the finished piece, which I titled Atlantis Rising because a number of my fellow students told me that it evoked the lost continent for them.
Later that afternoon I began a third small canvas. The group energy had been building and fusing to a crescendo throughout the day and I was filled with a powerful feeling of Light. My brush was expressing this on the canvas, but I had to express it with my whole body. I caught the eye of my good friend Felix, who was painting next to me, and he immediately understood. We both began dancing, paintbrushes in hand. Mehrdad turned up the music and soon everyone was painting and dancing, dancing and painting, until it all became inseparable. In our state of blissful unity, “under the influence” of divine drunkenness, we became playmates of God and the embodiment of Fusionart. I realized again that this energy, rooted in creativity and a joy beyond judgment, can truly transform the world, and we must share it. Below is the result, Transformation.
After dinner, Rassouli demonstrated for us how to transform an old painting into a completely new one by using the power of imagination. We spent the rest of the evening over a glass of wine in a sitting area next to Rassouli’s room. As we basked in the afterglow of the beautiful atmosphere, Rassouli entertained and enlightened us with Nasreddin Sufi stories and we deepened our connection with stories of our own past. It was the perfect way to end the day. The following morning we had our last painting session followed by the group critique. We had become so close in such a short time, and I left totally satisfied with the weekend, filled with positive energy and eager to continue painting. The weekend also reinforced for me some very basic but vital life lessons. Stay curious and open to the unknown. Always take time in your life to do something that makes you happy and satisfied. Share it with others. This is the true abundance of life, greater than financial well-being and material possessions. Above all, whatever it is you want out of life, “Be It.”
Sunday, May 31, 2009
Above is my latest painting, Astral Realm. Looking at it reminds me that creativity is the natural order of life. Life is energy - pure creative energy which infuses all of life and connects us with the Divine. Creativity is the expression of our true selves. When we surrender to this energy, and allow it to flow through us, we express our true selves and we grow. When we resist this energy, we are captured by our small selves and we stagnate, then contract. This painting came to me through my imagination as I was looking at the sky and the formation of the clouds. Everything happens first in the subtle realm of the Astral, and I could see the Earth gracefully circled by the energy of the Divine Mother as if protecting a child. Art is very personal, yet it also transcends the personal. We can go anywhere in our imagination, and the artist takes great joy in this process. I believe that developing the creativity of children is an essential factor in the survival of our planet. As they learn to recognize and trust their Divine connection, they will receive the resources to overcome the seemingly intractable conundrums of our time with as yet unimagined creative solutions. Nurturing the creativity of younger generation in all aspects will enable them to bring forth fresh ideas of beauty and lead mankind to higher levels of civilized development.
Thursday, May 14, 2009
Sunday, March 29, 2009
Speaking of art for children, the Hollywood Arts Council recently contacted me. The Council is holding its 23rd annual "Charlie Chaplin Awards" evening on April 19th at the Hollywood Palladium. The "Charlies" are presented by Hollywood celebrities to honor outstanding merit in Hollywood and its arts. I was asked if I would donate a painting for the silent auction, which is part of the event. The money raised helps to fund an after school art program for "at risk" grade school kids. Since I believe passionately in the value of developing children's creativity and appreciation of art, I gladly accepted. In addition to supporting a worthy cause, the event is well attended and affords an opportunity for some good exposure. Below is the painting I donated, Branches (recently re-titled).
Ignoring the doom and gloom of the news, I continue to paint for the love of painting, as do my fellow Fusionartists. A group of us get together 2 Saturdays a month at Clover Park in Santa Monica to paint under the trees near picnic tables, basketball courts and soccer fields. People stroll through our outdoor "studio," often stopping to chat or just watch. The group energy of artists painting together is so positive that it naturally attracts. The world needs to experience the joy of positive self-expression and creativity more than ever now. By simply taking pleasure in our art and each other's company, in our own little way we make the world a better place.
Note: My new webmaster, Jean-Louis Boers, who is gifted in all things technical, is hard at work on a new, improved version of this web site. Look for it soon.