Allow The Silence

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“After silence, that which comes nearest to expressing the inexpressible is music.” Aldous Huxley

There are few things more satisfying to me than closing the studio door, picking up a large brush, turning the up the volume on the music, and giving over to the forces that want to find expression through me. The night before my latest trip, without really meaning to do it, I turned from my computer, saw the canvas stapled on the wall, and the next thing I knew several hours had passed, the music was rattling the windows, and both the canvas and I were covered in paint (it’s why I stopped buying new clothes…). It had been too long since I gave myself over to the call.

I used to draw everyday. It was my practice, my imperative. In recent years I’ve moved on to other practices. I write. I facilitate. I walk. I find the quiet. And then, like a starving man who stumbles into a feast, I disappear without warning into a painting gluttony. It is a different kind of quiet, ferocious, vibrant, and necessary. There is no thought; my body takes over and the painting comes through: silence in the center of a hurricane of movement and sound. When finally I step away from the canvas and come back into my body, I discover an image in front of me. It is less correct to say, “I did that,” and more correct to ask, “What just happened?” I’ve spent hours of my life standing in front of paintings that I just painted, thinking, “Whoa. Look at that!”

Once, many years ago, Jim looked through all of my recent work and asked, “What is the significance of the three balls in your paintings?” I had no idea what he was talking about so he pulled out of the rack ten paintings, lined them up, and showed me that each had three balls as if some unseen figure was juggling them. I was gob-smacked. I studied the paintings for a few minutes and said, “Whoa. Look at that!” Jim laughed.

The silence is not empty; it is full. It is rich and vibrant. The silence is what happens when we get out of our own way, open to the forces, and let them come through. Words like “art” or “transformation” or “perspective” or any other word can’t contain all the meaning that becomes available when we learn to step out of the way and allow the silence.

One Response

  1. I got this, I see this, I love this. Thanks again and again and again.

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