As a contemplative artist, the seed of inspiration for creating a work of art arises from within the depths of my soul. That seed of inspiration is like a mustard seed, so elusive, so tiny, and yet the kernel grows into a large creation. The creative process begins for me when I assimilate an ordinary life experience into the context of my contemplative exploration.

Artist Paul Klee wrote, “Art does not reproduce the visible, rather it makes visible.” For me, the subject of a painting may arise from the experience of a landscape of clouds, a sunset over the San Juan Mountains or one spring flower in a bouquet. I am jolted out of my complacency by experiences that rush through my senses.

As I begin to paint, I put the essence of the original impression from my life experience in my heart and carry it with me until the product of my time and energy erupts into a work of art. How I move from inspiration to final creation is a mystery to me. To say it just happens is an understatement. The process evolves from inspiration through perspiration to realization.

My philosophical approach to art making has evolved over the years from reading books by thinkers who have pondered upon this elusive subject such as Aristotle who wrote “the soul never thinks without an image” and Meister Eckhart who looked at the creative process in terms of “when the soul wishes to experience something she throws an image of the experience out before her and enters into her own image”.

In my search for words to describe my creative process I look to Joseph Campbell who summarizes ‘who is artist’ in terms of the spiritual journey.
“The real artist is the one who has learned to recognize and to render what [James Joyce] has called the “radiance” of all things, as an epiphany or showing forth of their truth…..It’s important to live life with the experience, and therefore the knowledge, of life’s mystery and your own mystery. This gives life a new radiance, a new harmony and new splendor…..”
In each attempt to create, I try to bring out the extraordinary aspects of everyday existence by capturing the expansive beauty of corporal matter onto a painted canvas. What I do is impossible and yet I enjoy trying to create an expression of what I experience to the best of my abilities. For me, the process is pure joy.

Looking at my art making process from both an experiential and intellectual point-of-view, I have arrived at a definition of contemplative art as the product of creative expression arising out of the pure joy of creating, grounded in a contemplative connection to the “radiance and perfection” of spirit known only through one’s experience of being fully human.

The Creative Process
In my artwork, I use color as the central focus. Paul Cezanne encourages artists to make color the predominate element in a painting when he wrote “there is a logic of colors and it is with this alone and not with the logic of the brain that the artist should conform.” The images in my paintings are designed specifically to hold color. The more outrageous the combinations of hues I employ the happier I am.

Exaggeration is my most reliable compositional element in that I try to magnify the small or bring into perspective a small aspect of the large. I continually try to do the impossible and in my effort to create I do not always arrive at what I envision but usually end up with a good painting from my attempt.

In each endeavor to capture the ‘light of life’, I work towards what Philosopher Suzanne K. Langer clarifies in her book The Problems of Art as
“ a work of art expresses a conception of life, emotion, inward reality. But it is neither a confessional nor a frozen tantrum; it is a developed metaphor, a non-discursive symbol that articulates what is verbally ineffable – a logic of consciousness itself.”
My bottom line as an artist is to excite the eye with color and inspire the mind to look at the world from a colorful perspective.

Vocation as Artist
I like my vocation as artist because I spend most of my days exploring the infinite possibilities of the creative process. Like the experience of contemplation, art is infinite and one never reaches the end. That is why I am an artist.

As Wassily Kandinsky points out in his book Concerning the Spiritual in Art,

“The spiritual life, to which art belongs and of which
she is one of the mightiest elements, is a complicated
but definitive and easily definable movement forwards
and upwards. This movement is the movement
of experience.”

Creative experience assists the intellect in uncovering that special place in our minds where contemplation bursts forth into an understanding of the spiritual.

My most recent paintings are of clouds. George O’Keefe wrote, “Making your unknown known is the important thing.” Following her example, the goal of my present exploration is to express on canvas the silent presence during early morning and late evening when the light is changing from day into night or night into day. The mystics of many traditions call the moment “the crack in the sky” when God is close and The Peace that Surpasses All Understanding is experienced. Using color as the central focus of my art making, I share my contemplation.

 

Articles:

"The Safety of Sacred Place, Desert Call Magazine, Summer Edition, 2011

"Sacred Space Rediscovered", Desert Call Magazine, Spring Edition, 2011

"A Heart Ripped Open", Desert Call Magazine, Summer Edition, 2010

"The Perfect Attack of the Heart", Desert Call Magazine, Spring Edition 2008

"The Creative Process: Healing & Resurrection in Art", Desert Call Magazine, Summer Edition, 2006

"A Contemplative View", Desert Call Magazine, Summer Edition, 2005

A Selection of Essays on view at Yahoo Contributor Network:
Suzanne Frazier's Contributor Profile - Yahoo! Contributor Network Read More

 

 

 

Images and content © 2012, Suzanne Frazier. All rights reserved.