Beginner’s Mind, Open Heart

A few years ago, I posted some of my earlier artworks on social media with the simple question “What do you see? I was always surprised and amazed by the variety of perspectives and interpretations of what different people see when they look at a piece of my artwork.  

What completely blows me away, is they often see things I never actually imagined or intended. I never consciously conceptualized, planned or analysed what I was going to paint before showing up at the canvas.  Every piece started with a colour, a shape in my mind’s eye or a feeling, and then I just painted to my heart’s content.

That was in the early days of me as an artist. The days when I was happy dabbling, experimenting and just playing with colour as an outlet for creative expression, discovery and having a little bit of fun. But over the years as I began working on more of the technical aspects of painting, after a year of training with a professional teacher, as my mind became instructed to consider artistic concepts such as foreground and background, proportion, shading and negative space. 

Over time, I noticed a personality aspect that started slowly creeping into my creations and the entire creative process became more difficult, loaded and stressful.  Expectations, judgments and comparisons crept in.  My perfectionism, my need to get it right, symmetrical or appealing kicked in…and together with growing ’technical competence’ and ‘mastery of the art’ that was being gained, something got lost.

That something was my open heartedness, my innocence, my joyful abandon, my willingness to be present to the process, to just show up and play with the paint on the canvas.  The willingness to mess up and then find a way to turn my mess into something beautiful.  I lost touch with myself, my own divine spark and started playing it safe. I started looking outside of myself to capture what I saw in the outside world, rather than going inside, connecting with myself and my inner landscape as the source of joy and inspiration for my creations. 

Today, as we enter the new, I yearn to experience the joy of just showing up in full presence again, in gleeful anticipation of capturing images and feelings that call to be expressed through me as a conduit for making visible some of life’s glorious and sacred mysteries.  So, I am now on a mission to be less professional, less good, less perfect and more raw, more present, more curious and more authentic again.  

Today I pledge to myself to show up in front of the blank canvas with an open heart and a beginner’s mind every day and to every new creation.  What is your heart yearning to create?   And what do you need to let go of to access the state of a beginner’s mind?

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