21 Days of Meditation

red meditation with pen and ink

Red Meditation with pen and ink

I joined a group called “21 Day Painting Meditation”. This group is sponsored by author, Whitney Freya. If you click on Whitney’s name a link will take you to her blog. Whitney is the author of The Artist Within. Many of you have probably already read the book or been on Whitney’s website. Whitney is a coach, artist, and creativity muse.

I decided to sign up for the 21 days of meditation for several reasons. First of all, I am always interested in learning how others teach. I also enjoy it when I am pushed by a schedule to do something creative everyday. Painting for 21 days sounded fun. Plus, I love the benefits of meditation. The group started the painting schedule September 24.

Yellow meditation

Yellow meditation

In order to be a part of the group you have to sign up through a site called Nexus. Here is a link to the page on Nexus that talks about the group, 21 Day Painting Meditation. I was new to the site at Nexus and had to figure out all the ins and outs of the website. Once you joined the group you could go to an area called “the forum” to see the postings of meditations and the comments or discussions of participants. If you missed a day you could still sign on and play catch up .

How you do the meditation or when you do the meditation is up to you. The way I participated was to first watch the meditation painting done by Whitney. I usually sat and watched it with all my painting supplies in front of me so I would not have to move. Once the meditation was finished, I replayed it and turned the sound up so that I could hear the music. I then did my painting meditation listening to the music without looking at the video. Some of the work turned out really good and others not so much. But that wasn’t really the purpose. It was a form of meditation, of just letting go and letting your mind recharge and refresh.

Blue Meditation

Blue Meditation

The meditations were short, about 7 to 8 minutes. I found that even when the music ended I continued to paint. I had a hard time putting the brush down. Then when I did finish I saved my paintings and worked on them with pen and ink later on in the day. I love to doodle, so I doodled on them while watching television. Actually, I should say while listening to the television.

Doodling is a great way to meditate also. I am including some of my meditation paintings in this article. You might want to try this form of meditation yourself sometime. Let me know how you like it if you do.

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Creating Art as a Meditation

Meditation is good for the soul. It can be an escape from the stress of a busy hectic life. About 7 years ago I went to a workshop to learn how to meditate. I thought there was some special way that it had to be done. I struggled with making my mind settle down, to stop the constant jibber jabber. That jibber jabber was my mind constantly telling me this and that, sending me back in time to regrets or forward in time to worries. I was not living in the present.

The workshop was wonderful. I bought a guided meditation on CD to meditate with. It helped me to focus. Closing my eyes and listening to the speaker and soothing music helped me. At times, even with the CD, I still struggled and found my mind wandering off to some worry or concern. I learned that practice helped and meditating got a little easier as time went on. Or maybe I just wasn’t as judmental of my practice.

The funny thing is that I did not realize that you could meditate in other ways.I had it in my head that you had to be seated, eyes closed, music playing, silence…….. Then I realized I had been meditating years before going to that meditation workshop.

I knew when I went into my studio to work on a painting I would sometime lose blocks of time. I would be so focused on the brushwork, the color, the values, the texture, that hours would pass without me noticing. Sometimes when I stopped painting, I would realize I had been painting for hours when I thought I had only been in the studio for minutes. I also noticed how relaxed and refreshed I felt. My mind had traveled to another place where there was no time. I called it my “Happy Place.” I figured that I had switched over to the right side of my brain, allowing the time conscious left brain to shut off for a while. I never considered it to be meditation.

When I was teaching art full time I had my students do a project that seemed to do the same thing with time. The students were asked to create an abstract painting using watercolor, salt, saran wrap, crayon, splatter, etc. When the painting dried, they were told to use a marker to outline the shapes and lines that appeared on the painting. The students loved the project, the art created was beautiful, and my classroom was amazingly quiet during the process. The kids got so into the line work, looking for the shapes within the painting, that they lost their desire to talk or worry about when the bell was going to ring. It was so refreshing and the students asked to be able to do this type of work often. There was no pressure, no concern about whether the work was representational or not.

Then I discovered doodling. A friend gave me a beautiful leather bound sketchbook that I wanted to draw in. I wanted to do something in the book that would be worth holding on to. So I started doodling in it with marker. Using the marker required more focus. I could not erase my mistakes, so if I made a mistake, I had to change it to something else. At first I just created random doodles, then I progressed to creating actual drawings in the sketchbook. I could sit at night and draw in the book as my husband watched television. I started carrying the book with me when I traveled. I found that I needed to sketch in that book. Doodling in that book was something that needed to be included in my schedule at least several times a week. I realized I was meditating when I was doodling.

Now I am experimenting with painting as a meditation. I will be writing about that in the next few weeks. I  joined a group that is doing a painting a day as a meditation for 21 days. I plan on writing about my experience with this process. I will keep you posted.

I’ll leave you with this thought:

You can meditate in many ways. You do not have to be seated, legs crossed, humming “ommmmm”.  Creating art through painting or doodling are two of my favorite ways to meditate. More later.

Blessings.

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Travel Using Technology to Create Great Art Work

Do you like to travel? I do!!!!! When you travel do you spend tons of time taking pictures of the area, the people, the scenery, the food, etc.? I do. Do you create art work from your travels? I do. Do you get to travel as often as you want? No. So what if you could travel for free and never have to pack a bag? Sound enticing? Absolutely!

You can travel and create art work using a very simple application on the internet called Google Maps. Not such a new idea is it? But it is new to me. I have used street view when I was interested in looking at real estate that I was interested in, but never thought about using it for creating art. It is such a simple idea.

Go to Google Maps, put in the place you want to go. Choose a country, a city, an address. Look to see if the street view is available and then start walking down the street to find interesting subject matter for your art work. When you find the view you want, make a screen shot of it. Then you can use it as reference material. The other evening I went to Italy using my Ipad. I found a church that I thought was interesting and did a sketch with pen and ink. I even got to draw sitting in my favorite recliner.

Artist, Bill Guffy, has been using this idea for years. He started a website called Virtual Paintout five years ago. Don’t I feel a little behind the times. 🙂  On his website he shares the work of artists that created using Google Maps as reference. Each month he picks a new location. The location for April was Liverpool. So later this week we will learn the new destination for May.

You might be interested in participating in the Virtual Paintout. Or maybe you just want to do your own thing and go anywhere in the world that appeals to you. Sounds like fun either way. I would love to hear from any of you that have used Google Maps as reference material. Oh by the way, Google has given permission for images to be used without copyright infringement. See ya later.

 

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Inquisitive Minds Want to Know

I have noticed a trend. If you are ever on Facebook or other social media sites you will find all types of quizes people take on line to learn about themselves. Remember the games we used to play as children with a paper design where you had to pick a color and then a number and then you got an answer to a question?

Now you can go on Facebook and take quizes about all types of things such as: What color is your aura? What Disney character are you? What color are you? What star would you most likely get arrested with? The list could go on and on. The types of quizes that I see available are quite creative in their own right.

People often take these quizes and then post the results on Facebook for their friends to see. I have even been known to take a test now and then but I do not post the results on Facebook. I figure my friends don’t need to know that stuff.

Anyway, what is it about human nature that makes us want to do these little quizes? Is it curiosity about ourselves? Do we thirst for knowledge about our basic characteristics? Do inquisitive minds want to know? Is it our creativity that drives us to take these exams? Is our creativity related to our curiosity about such things? Or does creativity have anything to do with it? What do you think?

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Creativity and Improv

The other night I was invited to go to my first Improv performance. It was held in a meeting room at the Sunriver SHARC Center in Sunriver, OR. I had no idea how the evening would go or what to expect. I have watched improv on television and have always enjoyed it. The show Whose Line is it Anyway? is quite funny. I wondered if improv would be as entertaining on a local level.

Triage is the name of the theatrical group that performed.  The evening was broken up into segments with the performers taking turns acting out different scenarios. Those scenarios were made up by the audience. For instance, one scenario included zombie gorillas taking over a small town. The actors became a local teacher, doctor, butcher, Lego man, and Justin Bieber. They took turns discussing the changes the zombie gorillas had made in the town.

The ideas for the skits came from the audience yelling out place names, emotions, occupations, or whatever the director of the scene asked for. The actors combined the ideas to make things more interesting. The actors had to be very creative in their depiction of the scene. I was witnessing creativity in a very basic and raw form. I was quite impressed with this group and their abilities to come up with a very funny performance in such a short amount of time with only a few guidelines.

My granddaughter, Hailey, surprised us by jumping up on stage when the crew asked for a volunteer in the first scene of the night. I had no idea she was such a performer. Hailey and two other actors were told to create images for a slide show with their actions as the professor spoke about the importance of popsicles. It was entertaining to watch the trio try to hold their poses until the so called professor changed his slides.

I think my favorite part of the evening was when a husband and wife from the audience came on stage to help in a skit. The couple were asked how they met and where they went on their first date. The actors then acted out the scene using their own ideas of the conversations and events that might have happened on this first date. The couple watching the skit were told to ring a bell if the scene was correct or to push a buzzer if it was wrong. The audience was howling by the end of the performance because the husband and wife did not agree on much of what was portrayed. So funny!

I thoroughly enjoyed the evening and I would definitely go watch Triage again. I know this group performs in the Central Oregon area quite often. I am including a link to their website so you can check out their schedule.

Creativity can come in many forms. The concept of taking random ideas and putting them together in a scene could be used in creative writing, drawing, painting, and more. Until next time, keep on creating!

 

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