One thing I know about myself is that I am much more passionate about painting than drawing. I do like to draw, but I really drop into the process of painting as I am doing it. All my focus is on moving the paint, finding the image as it emerges. The focus is off of myself or “the self” as Frederick Franck says, so that I make space for the Self. I feel most in connection with my true self when I am painting, my true self the artist.
Frederick Franck is an artist and author. Among his many books is Zen Seeing/Drawing, from which I have gained much inspiration. Franck was an official artist at Vatican Council II, and he made his home/artist museum in Warwick, New York which he called Pacem in Terris. I was able to attend a workshop with him in the early 90’s, before he passed away in 2006.
My art is my spirituality. As Frederick Franck talks about drawing as meditation, he draws on several Zen Buddhist sources. He quotes the 9th Century Zen master, Daie, “Meditation in a state of activity is a thousand times more profound than that in a state quietude.” I have been meditating on a regular basis for about 12 years. I know the sense of meditating in silence to lose my “self” into the “Self” or the higher self, or the Oneness, or God, however anyone names that state of being. I have achieved it not every time I meditate, but often enough to feel the benefit of the practice. But I have known that sense of losing my “self” from years before, even as a teenager, losing myself in my art making. At that time, I had no words for that feeling, I just knew it made me happy. Then later, as a young adult, a friend of mine watched as I was painting. She remarked at what she saw. She said it was as if I, the brush and the painting were all one, all connected to God.
My art practice leads me deeper into my faith, my connection to God. Franck speaks of the Meaning of life, “sacred Presence” he sees when drawing people, “I may not believe what they believe, I may not ‘believe’ at all. Seeing firsthand, however, I know the Sacred. I see it . . . in the tabernacles of living flesh becoming transparent, in their bowing, kneeling, making the sign of the cross, mumbling prayers, chanting sutras.” “The [mystery] of the world is that it exists. . . It is this Mystery of sheer existence that impels me to draw.” Franck draws because sees Mystery in his subjects. I paint because I feel the Mystery within me as I paint.