Seeing with fresh eyes

Abstract contemplative artwork as creative prompt for self-reflection

“A child makes no distinction between the dream and the waking. She knows no distinctions. She knows reality as one.

By becoming receptive, we become imaginative. And then our imagination flowers as a thousand-and-one-petaled lotus.”

(Osho, Creativity: Unleashing the Forces Within)

See with fresh eyes

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Art becomes a contemplative practice when we take time to settle in, allowing images and feelings to arise in response to it, without needing to label or describe.

Paul Brunton on "Initiation into Mystical Experience" from The Wisdom of the Overself (1959)

“Art, its appreciation or creation, Nature, its love or companionship, constitute ways of approach to the mystical state. For those who can enter into them naturally, they provide excellent paths…The attraction which they feel for beautiful things is merely a foretaste of the attraction which they have yet to feel for Beauty itself…Contemplation seeks to recapture their soul, to prolong and stretch them into a mood and to make them a recurring part of the common daily life.”

“Art becomes a means of evoking what is above art and every artistic creation will become a symbol of something more than the thing created.”

Revd Jonathan Evens on Bill Viola and the Art of Contemplation

“Artworks open up a field of pure possibilities for us as viewers, a ‘potential’ space that invites our co-creativity: ‘the ‘space’ of the painting and the ‘space of the viewer are to blend into a common space, and it is in and out of this common space that the work of creation is to occur…” (George Pattison cited in Evens)

The first thing to note about the art of contemplation is that it involves slowness. 

“By paying attention to art in this way…we immerse ourselves in the world of the image. Joe Moran describes this as being like a swimmer who stops counting the number of pool laps they have done and just enjoys how their body feels and moves in water.”

“The gift the artist offers is to share with us the mindful and prayerful act of seeing, for, in order to make material from their thoughts and ideas, they have to spend time noticing, looking intently and making careful observation of the minutiae of things…

This act of seeing slows us down and invites us to pay attention to the moment, to be still, not to rush and only take a quick glance but instead to come into a relationship with that which you are seeing, to understand it and make sense of its relationship with the world around it.

This is a form of prayer where we become detached from our own limited perspective and make way for a wider more compassionate understanding of ourselves, others and the world we inhabit.” (Lesley Sutton cited in Evens)

We become detached from our own limited perspective and make way for a wider more compassionate understanding of ourselves, others and the world we inhabit.