I have been working on a series of small paintings based on drawings from my grandchildren. Needless I think these drawings are pure genius. I copy their drawing as accurately as I can and then It delights me to turn them into colourful paintings. I am creating more of these from a little pile of their drawings and encouraging them to draw more.
For me, deep listening begins with meditation; an act of receiving. It is a time when my mind is not so busy broadcasting it’s thoughts and opinions and there is some openness to listen and feel at a deeper level.
This painting is built on my fascination for the act of listening. There is a point where sound crosses over from external to internal. Once it is internal we process through miles of nerves and brain cells and then give it some kind of meaning. Listening is a subjective act, within ourselves.
Connection happens through listening. It is the basis of relationships; family, friends and community. Empathy and compassion are born of listening, then feeling. I sincerely think that deep listening might be our chance at world peace. If leaders, politicians and power brokers understood that their role is to listen, hear each other’s stories and feel the experience of others, there might be a chance of resolving differences. If we really listen, others will be inclined to speak their truth rather than try to manipulate the listener. If we really listen, truth rings clearly and deeply.
So much of our experience of the world comes through this sense; the bird’s song in the morning, the roar of a waterfall or the hum of civilization. The sharing of these sounds connect and shape us.
Deep Listening includes all the acts of listening, taking them deeper in to our consciousness, feeling the sounds and communication, letting it move us and shape us. It expands our world, helping us feel the underlying power and energy of life.
An Intuitive Transformative Painter and Intuitive Painting Ted Wallace
Philosophy behind Intuitive Painting
I am in love with the experience of being swept away in the blissful tide of creativity. I love the feeling of ideas, thoughts, color and form bring pulled through me from the earth and the ethers. They pass through me bringing energy, openings, visions and vividness. My relationship with this lover is typically complex and I spend much of my time taking care of the practicalities. I enjoy the courtship, the daily chores, the work, and the slow evolution of a deep relationship with the muse. Through my work as an artist and as a teacher I hope to help others develop their relationship with what can be a passionate lover.
We live in a culture that often does not value art or appreciate its ability to free the spirit and unbind our hearts. Art is highly valued by business and advertisers as an effective way to get our attention, manipulate us and separate us from our money. I may sound a little cynical, but there is some powerful art in advertising that helps condition us to tie our emotions to a product or lifestyle or something else beyond us. As an educator I see art education validated as a method for raising math scores. This is great, as art really does work to make the brain a better practical organ, but fails to recognize the intrinsic value of creating art. Math scores are quantifiable where as the bliss of working from the depths of your soul is a little harder to measure.
I believe that the potential of creating art is for us to go on a journey where we discover the wonders and powers in ourselves. I spend a lot of time in my studio, (usually 6 to 8 hours a day) and I am a bit of a scientist working to find systems and techniques to keep the art coming from a deep and honest place. Here are a few things that work for me:
I highly value connecting with the unconscious or subconscious any way I can. I meditate, I dream and I work to remember my dreams in writing and sketches. I find ideas that fascinate me then dig into them as deep as I can with brainstorming, free association, with metaphors and with doodles. I go through cycles of digging in, researching, trying things and then relaxing, meditating and waiting. Mostly, I just work, develop my craft, try this and that and then recognize the keys to the door of honest, deep, creative experiences.
I understand the main key to the door of creating art is feeling. We can feel it in our bodies when we get a layer deeper. There is an energy shift, an opening, a rush, an aahaah experience. We have unbound ourselves from an aspect of restrictive conditioning, we have made a connection with ourselves and come a step closer to our own truths. These feelings can be small and subtle, especially if we are not used to listening and putting ourselves in situations where we can notice them. These feelings can be strong, bringing bliss or sadness. I have been amazed at how many tears are shed in my intuitive painting classes.
As I learn to go deep into my subconscious I get to a place where I feel I am connecting to thoughts and experiences beyond myself. This could be Jung’s collective unconscious where we can all tap into shared symbols, thoughts and aspects of the universe. Whatever it is, it brings the richness of feeling connected to something vast and awesome. When I draw from this depth I feel that I am being as honest as I can be. I don’t know anything deeper than this.
I was recently reintroduced to the concept of Duende, a Spanish word that is deep with meanings for inspiration and creativity. Duende is a spirit; a dictionary refers to it as an evil or creative spirit. This says something about how repressive societies have feared the creative spirit. The Duende written of by poets refers to an earth spirit that rises with passion through the artist. “ It burns through the soles of the dancers feet, or expands the torso of the singer. It courses through the blood and breaks through the poet’s back like a pair of wings”, Lorca says it is art that touches and transfigures death.
I think what we are talking about is flaming passion. The arts offer us an avenue to awaken and experience passion in our lives. By learning to listen to our intuitions, by opening to the world of our subconscious and beyond, by developing and practicing our art form, by opening to the passion expressed in arts, we can learn to live more passionate, fulfilling lives.
Art Courses for Developing Intuition and Creativity
Through our life experience each of us has come to a different place. Some can recognize and feel the power of great art, that is the art that transfigures death and hits us deep in our center, transforming and opening us to life. Some have had this type of experience through creating art and some have been brought to this place through other life processes. Most had at least hints of these experiences.
All of the courses and workshops I teach are based on the belief that we can turn our focus inside and find paths that lead to the joy of true creativity. Painting and drawing are effective vehicles in which to open to the voice and feeling of our deeper selves. This is a step by step process that relies on a number of conditions and techniques.
The primary condition for this journey is a safe, supportive, nonjudgmental environment. No one comments on other peoples work, no one analyzes or judges the work. The truth is that in this exploration you cannot go wrong or make mistakes. In these courses we work with our inner dialogue to put the Judge on the back benches. Each step along the path of creating a painting we put the “should” aside and go with the “what if”. We find language that frees us to step into our intuition. As we practice this process in this environment we learn that it is safe to go down this path and learn to welcome the power and intensity of the feelings that may arise.
Our best tool in this process is recognizing and listening to our feelings and emotions. There are no wrong feelings. What we might have thought were negative feelings such as emptiness, frustration, or feeling constricted are only steps along the path. We must be willing to feel them and then take the next step. As we stumble along, running into ourselves over and over again, we eventually learn to accept and realize that these things do not define us. As we listen to our intuitive voice and make the next step we start to recognize and validate that fire in us that wants express its self. Depending on our life experience, this can be a small ember or a raging fire. Each is precious and we learn to validate and appreciate these signposts. Feeling is our best clue in this exploration. By simply creating with form and colour we can experience a full range of emotions. At times, after recognizing our intuition, we will make a mark or choose a colour that will open us to a deep and powerful feeling. There may be a shift of energy or a strong sensation in our core.
There may be memories, images, old hurts and joys coming to the surface. It is important to recognize these feelings and then translate them to colour and form.
Intuitive painting can be therapeutic and healing. It can bring spiritual experience and deep realization. However, these courses are not Art therapy. They are not about analyzing, but about feeling, recognizing and going deeper into the creative core.
Throughout these courses there is technical instruction to support the intuitive process and to build up our toolbox with a variety of tools and knowledge to better express ourselves.
The focus of the courses is to put ourselves in a place of limitless choices and then to listen and choose a voice that speaks from our intuitive core. It is a process of learning to recognize and trust these messages. We learn to listen to the voice that is uniquely us, to feel its energy and allow it to speak through us. The opening brings energy and transformation in to our lives. This is a process that can help us find more passion and fulfillment in our lives and if we pursue it to it’s depths it can help us experience el duende, the spirit of creativity that is at the core of powerful, honest art.
The lyrics that inspired this painting are: “You know the day destroys the night, the night divides the day.”
We have some responsibility for the magic that happens in our lives. Most of us in this culture have been given lives that allow us to focus time and energy on pursuits other than survival. We have an opportunity to involve ourselves in activities that can bring growth, love and magic in to our lives ……or not.
One of the many paths that offer us richness in our lives is the arts. As an artist there is an opportunity to experience the passionate fire of creativity. The spirit of creativity fills you, transforms you, burns through you and allows you to feel connected to something much larger and more powerful than yourself. Once we have sensed the possibility of this or have been fortunate enough to experience it, we are drawn to it like moths to the flame.
As we become familiar with this passionate fire and remember it, it makes sense to work at being an artist. As we work, we long to be swept away and transformed by our muse. Our muse becomes our lover. Each day I head to my studio hoping for an affair with this lover, but alas, it seems an unfaithful lover. It seems my muse will not show up today; it may be visiting the artist down the street. At this point I can become the abandoned tortured artist or I can have faith in my experience.
My experience tells me that as long as I work, sincerely putting in my time and effort, my muse will return in its own good time. So I work, plodding away, but growing and slowly making my way. I work at staying receptive and following the clues of my fascinations. When the muse returns and I am swept up in the passionate fire of creativity, I receive it with gratitude. My life is enriched by the longing, the wrestling and the soaring with the muse.
Relationships in Time. A painting out of the archives
This painting is based on a dream image. The strongest impression came from the interlocking lines. I do not analyze my dreams, but I do listen to them. They give me impressions, ideas and thoughts that seem like memories. As I thought about this dream I sensed that relationships are the entwining of timeless threads.
Like any other type of consciousness there is a time when we are aware and having an experience in our lives. If we experience that moment deeply it seems connected to an endless thread or network that moves it’s way through space and time.
As I contemplated and enjoyed these thoughts, I thought about all the relationships we experience. Some relationships bound or tie us to another until we feel very little separation. This can be a lover, a friend, someone we move through an arc of time with. It can also be an animal. Even after the death of an animal or person with whom we have traveled a distance through life; the journey continues. Forever seems a very real concept in a deep relationship.
The Natural Law of Seeking Balance
This is one of the series of paintings that I did in Mexico this winter.
It is about how the laws of consciousness or the deep inner workings of humanity mirror the laws of nature. Nature is always seeking balance. In the natural world when things become extreme life is threatened. The power of life finds ways to neutralize or balance extremes. The gaia principle examines how the earth and it’s living parts act like one large organism seeking health and survival.
When we are aware and listening to our deepest thoughts and feelings we are compelled to touch and share with each other in search of balance. The deepest drive of those who are experiencing darkness, pain or suffering is to seek relief and healing. Those who are experiencing love and light are compelled to reach out to those who are experiencing separation. The essence of this balance is compassion. The place where we touch is love.
In the realm of consciousness none of us can be free while some are imprisoned. A compassionate world is not one where we deny pain and suffering but have the courage to embrace and transform it with our effort, care and love.
Freedom to Worship, Freedom from Worship
This painting is about tolerance, thinking about what helps people live deep, rich and meaningful lives.
Mr. Yum stands in the doorway of his corner store: “ A mosque in our town, Imagine. All of the people in the neighborhood are patching some kind of meaning into their lives; Christians, yogis, thinkers, artists, writers, meditators and who knows what else. Some people are doing their best just not to think about it; just going about their business. Where does it all go; the thoughts, the myths, the beliefs and the hopes? Well as long as everybody is polite, gives the grocery man a smile and doesn’t hurt anybody, it’s alright, I guess.”
-The wind is an agent of change, a transformer.
-Some people let the wind move them, spending time in transformation, opening, feeling and finding new points of view. They can return to their lives richer, working to live more deeply, often finding others who share common language and experience.
-In this painting the wind is full of mythological symbols: spirits, dragons, a white bearded God, angels and birds.
-People fly kites for the pure joy of feeling the power of the wind.
Sunrise in Tulum
I have been home from Mexico for a few weeks, but I find it is still very much on my mind. My overwhelming feeling is one of gratitude for the good fortune and for the privilege of spending my days in one of the most beautiful places in the world.
During my months in Tulum I start each day at the beach in the first hint of the day’s light. After a little yoga I sit, meditate and watch the sky transform in an array of purples, pinks and shafts of light. The beauty and the power of the place effects me every day: the crashing waves, the birds soaring by, the bats returning to their roosts, the wind and the rising sun envelope me.
Sunrise in Tulum is my attempt to express the power of the place. There is a palpable energy from the prolific plant, animal and sea life. The land is permeated with the history and stories from of the Mayan people. The place is transforming and each day I make some effort to notice and allow it to transform me.