Someone recently asked me how I combined my art with spirituality. It was a good question and I pondered it awhile before I replied. The following is my response:
As to how I combine my spiritual practices with my art… often it is totally unconscious. I’ll begin working with color & fabric and something simply evolves from my mood, the moment, the materials, and me. At other times, I deliberately USE my art notebooks as venting places for emotional over-load. Those notebooks are considerably different from the ones I use to develop the structure, balance, harmony, etc. of a piece I am planning.
I could call them my Emotional Art Notebooks, I suppose. During times of intense grief or major healing, I often find myself unable to sleep. Then I come to the studio, pull out the notebook & my CraPa oil pastels, sit on the floor in the candlelight, close my eyes & simply begin. I don’t want to consciously choose the colors, I want my spirit to have full sway. I use my non-dominant hand to select the crayon & to make the drawings – with my eyes closed. I want to stay totally in my body with my feelings & allow them to speak through my mind, heart, down my arm, and out my hand without interference from my thinking, judging self.
Once a drawing is complete, I will look at it to see what I recognize. Are there 3 black spots in one corner? Where in my life do I have those 3 black spots? What are they? Why are they? Where are they within me? And that big slash down the center – what is on each side of the slash? What am I seeing &/or feeling as polarized & opposite & irreconcilable in my life at this time? The color of the slash will tell me even more how separate I believe the two entities are within me. Is it one of the colors of the rainbow? If so, what color is it and how is it associated with the 7 major chakras (personal power centers) in my body? If not, what colors of the rainbow are used to create the color used? If it is black, do I think of the slash as ‘deadly’ or as something on one or the other side of it as ‘deadly?’
I guess you can get my drift from that! Once I have done a drawing, sometimes I feel that it is incomplete. This is especially true if one or more of the lines or colors goes off the page. Then I select the color of the crayon that was leaving the page, turn the page & begin where it left off on the page before. Again, I will close my eyes after I’ve begun, allowing my intuitive self to express the feelings within and give me clues for my personal healing.
I have several dark & gloomy art-quilts from times when I was still able to quilt while in the state of depression. (Most of the time I do not or cannot do any kind of art when I am suffering from depression.) Some of these quilts are black, grays, white and red – and quite lively, actually. Others are muted, confusing or muddled, dim in color, shape or form. My 9/11 quilt is actually very light, with the central panel made up of my hand-dyed muted purples with blues, surrounded by a large, totally white border in which the words of a poem I wrote are machine stitched.
And, of course, I have many quilts that are full of color, life, enthusiasm and fun! Much of my creating time is spent processing as I work on some thought, concept, ideal, situation, etc. By the time the quilt is finished, I have moved through the issue and learned what I needed while doing so.
There also are several incomplete, unfinished quilt projects...some I hope to go back to when the time/idea is right. Others may be cut up and used in something new. Others may never see the light of day again! And it's all OK with me.
And, finally, I have some purely funky, fun mini-quilts that arise out of spontaneous moment of play. They are often my favorites, for obvious reasons!