Michael Franklin, artist and art therapist, explains the creative process brilliantly. Perhaps with his guidance, it is possible to gain some insight into how some meditative and spiritual art is coming into existence, and to understand from where for example O’Keeffe got her imagery.
The Creative Process
According to Franklin, the creative process is in many ways a dialogue with the Self, with the Witness. The mystical presence of Self and the energy that occupies this divine inner sphere is recognized in many spiritual traditions.
Making Art, or the creative process, is a way to identify this source and artists are aware of their own creative inner center, he explains.
Franklin goes on to say that the process of creating art is a very private activity similar to meditation, carried out in silence. Between the thoughts and the breaths there are moments of stillness, just like pauses between the tones in music. These quiet spaces are as important as the tones themselves.
The brain thinks in ebbs and flows, with silent space in between, while the Witness observes the whole process. An inner, vast plain opens and as the thoughts begin to wander, they can be observed as a movie. Instead of directing the attention outwards, it can be turned inwards to its own source, The Self.
Georgia O’Keeffe: Patio with Black Door, 1955
O’Keeffe: Green-Grey Abstraction, 1931
There are people who have made me see shapes – and others I thought of a great deal, even people I have loved, who make me see nothing. I have painted portraits that to me are almost photographic. I remember hesitating to show the paintings, they looked so real to me. But they have passed into the world as abstractions – no one seeing what they are.
The citation above, is O’Keeffe commentary text to Green-Grey Abstraction, in her autobiography.
She actually claims to have depicted people, where she could see the person’s energy field.
The inner dark part of the painting, could actually be a man dressed in a costume, in a torso, from chest to knee.
The ondulating, more colorful areas on the sides would be the energy fields, or the etheric bodies, a concept within mysticism. Some people can see energy around others in color, or auras, and this painting and its authentic comment by its own artist, indicates that O’Keeffe had this ability.
An interesting connection is that Sixten Ringbom shows similar images in his book about Kandinsky, The Sounding Cosmos. With this said, I don’t want to claim that O’Keeffe was a theosophist, but she certainly seems to have been quite aware of similar esoteric concepts.
I feel that a real living form is the natural result of the individuals’ effort to create the living thing out of the adventure of his spirit into the unknown – where it has experienced something – felt something – it has not understood – and from that experience comes the desire to make the unknown – known… The form must take care of itself if you can keep your vision clear – I some way feel that everyone is born with it clear but that with most of humanity it becomes blasted –one way or another.