Since many of us are at home, “social distancing,” we are likely to have more time to develop our inner creativity and to apply it to our personal cycle of everyday living. Here is an excerpt from my book, THROUGH AN ARTIST’S EYES: LEARNING TO LIVE CREATIVELY that can provide some ways to enhance and enrich your life, emotionally and spiritually.
THE ART OF CONTEMPLATION, PART I
Now perhaps you would like to rest a bit. Sit down in a favorite spot in a place you call home—your bedroom or office or study or TV/recreation area. Or even in a corner, because it really doesn’t matter, as long as you have some privacy for your next artistic adventure. A period of thirty minutes to an hour is ideal, but less is acceptable. The best time is likely to be before work or after work or everyday tasks, when you can both relax and concentrate on the art of contemplation.
First, look around your room or space or, to use artistic terminology, your studio. Have you ever really observed your surroundings, the furnishings, books, computer, bowl or vase, pictures, windows, and walls? How are they arranged? Is there a particular design, or are they randomly placed?
The artist Vermeer, who lived more than three centuries ago, allows you to enter his house via his paintings, taking you on a tour of a magical room.
He entreats you to see the value and preciousness of each object within it, whether new or old, faded or shiny, expensive or cheap. Vermeer is your guide, through the miracle of light, to the wonders of colors and textures that could be easily overlooked: the glistening pitcher, the opulence of the oriental table cloth, and the worn beauty of a treasured jewelry box.
Vermeer can help orient you to your own contemporary interior space, showing you the significance and impact of even the most modest room. Have you ever noticed the deep red of a favorite accessory? The velvety touch of your sofa’s pillows? The weathered surface of your hardwood floor? The slick newness of a recent magazine? The streamlined form of your computer? The play of sunlight flickering over the wall?
And what about the exterior view? Is there a window that allows you to enjoy the outside panorama? The inside and the outside are not completely separate; as the twentieth century artist Matisse once wrote: The atmosphere of the landscape and my room are one and the same. He was the artist of windows, allowing the world inside, whether a cramped Parisian city street along the Seine River, and endless harbor view of the Mediterranean Sea, or a shaded garden behind a house.
So think beyond your windowsill and its artificial barrier. Even what may appear initially as a mundane prospect has infinite possibilities: a lone tree jagged and bent, the top of a rolling hill, the contrast of light and shadow on a courtyard or alley, water rippling over a pond. The prospect changes and transforms every day, never the same, and you are its painter, if not with your hands, then with your eyes and mind: morning, evening or mid-afternoon, throughout the four seasons.
The Art of Contemplation, Part II coming on Saturday.
And expand your horizons with Through an Artist’s Eyes: Learning to Live Creatively.
Available on Amazon.