From Portrait to Abstract

In last week’s blog, I spoke of how drawing portraits and connecting with the subject released the creative impulse – – Connecting with others, creating relationships, leads us back to ourselves, leads us deeper into the knowing of ourselves. That deeper knowing of ourselves is our spiritual being. And with that knowing, the creative impulse is set free.

After completing each portrait, I set a time to sit in meditation on what that experience was for me, the experience of connecting with the person as I drew their portrait.  My meditation was focused on the feelings that came up for me as I thought about the experience and any body sensations I noticed. Without putting words to those feelings, I sat with them.  Perhaps an image would arise or a color or combination of colors. As an image or color became clear, I left the meditation and prepared to paint. With canvas and paint ready, I again took my attention into my body, grounded myself in the present, focused on the image or color. From there, I began to paint.  I use palette knives or my hands to paint as this gives me a visceral feeling of the paint.  I embody the connection with others and translate it to the image or colors on the canvas. The final image on the canvas is often not the image that came to me in meditation, but a progression of that image as I embodied the process.

I did this process for the 16 portraits I made.  As I shared my artwork with others, and the process I followed, many would want to know which painting went with which portrait and how the subject of the portrait or our relationship was revealed in the painting.  It was in reflecting on these questions that I realized the paintings reveal more about my connection to myself than with the other person.  I could see myself in each of those paintings.  But it was in reaching out to others, drawing their portraits, and the meditation that led me to come to a deeper knowing of myself.

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