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How to Be an Artist-Monk

Be. Here. This Moment Now is all there is, don’t go seeking another. Discover the sacred in your artist’s tools, they are the vessels of the altar of your own unfolding. Look at this cup of holy water, washing clean the brushes. See the blank page, awaiting your blessing. Gaze on the colors before you, each one a name of God: Saffron, Cobalt, Azure, Ruby. Say each one slowly and taste its juice in your mouth. Let this be your prayer. Brush them across the page. First the small strokes, then the larger sweeps. Lose track of all time. This too is prayer. Listen for the words that rise up: Awaken. Envision. Sing. Alleluia. Place marks on the page saying I am here. Watch as word and image dance together. Luminous. Illuminated. This is your sacred text. This is where God’s words are spoken, sometimes in whispers, sometimes in shouts. Be there to catch them as they pass over those sacred lips, tumbling so generously into your open arms.

© Christine Valters Paintner at Abbey of the Arts:
Transformative Living through Contemplative & Expressive Arts

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8 Responses

  1. thank you, friend, for this beautiful piece of inspiration. it makes me wish to reach for the painters brush that i do not feel so competent with. perhaps i shall do as deb suggested and pay attention to cadence, color and the sounds that surround me. peace and blessings. xoxox

  2. Your gift for wordcraft has expresed everything I feel deep inside and express in my painitngs. Words often fsil me when I want to express these things so THANK YOU for finding the words for me.

  3. You’re welcome Anna!

    Suz, I just wrote it yesterday while attending an expressive arts workshop. We were given SARK’s “how to be an artist” and asked to write our own “how to be a …” and this is what was inspired in me. :-)

    Sarah, thank you for this beautiful poetic response! I am humbled.

    Thanks Deb, that is exactly the response I hoped for. :-)

  4. Beautiful, thanks. In my work this week, I have been doing this. Paying attention to the cadence of words as I type. Savoring the colors as I edit photos. Now I will do it more consciously.

  5. Christine!

    by Sarah Whitworth
    (as the Magdalene)

    Here I be, dressed in viridian and ochre,
    Eyes of ebony and lips of cinnabar,
    Your faithful student, your ardent follower,
    Present and open as the sky is azure.
    Three prostrations, before my teacher —
    Crystal earrings jingle and jangle in the picture.

  6. Christine,
    I love this. Do you read it at retreats? It is somehow deeply familiar.