Expressing the essence through art

At Christmas time this year, I had the good fortune to be able to catch up with family on boxing day. As part of this I went with My Uncle Geoff, Geoff Plant which some of you mooters know, to see his art studio and some of recent paintings.

Whilst we were there, my Uncle expressed his frustration with some of his art.  He knew he could draw people, but wanted to get beyond the construction and technical bits of art, to be able to express the essence by getting beyond his own limitations.  It struck me that this is the same process as meditation and prayer, about getting beyond the self by using some form of method of prayer and meditation, to be able to reach beyond yourself to be able to encounter the essence which is God.

When I did my MA, one of the courses I completed was on art, literature and a theology of the imagination.  This basically traced the theme of creativity and imagination as the sphere for encountering the Holy Spirit, as the medium when the human and the divine encounter in the I-Thou relationship – whether this was intentional or not.  I have always seen prayer and meditation as an expression of this, as it requires you to get beyond your thinking and your feeling to be able to see beyond the self.   I have never thought that art and the process of making art, as a similar process.

Although we came from completely different places, this desire to express the essence was an important shared moment.  I was able to say that for this reaching beyond and expression of essence was a a form of prayer, an essence outside of our self-preoccupation and self-deceptions.  For me prayer is hard work, just as art is hard work, but both are an essential expression of the spiritual path of seeking to reach out to the essence beyond, seeking the divine.


POSTED 30.12.11 BY: ianmobsby | Comments (3)

3 Responses to “Expressing the essence through art”

  1. On December 30th, 2011 at 7:41 pm artbizness said:

    I would definitely agree with this from my experience as a practitioner of both art and meditation.

    Quite often an artist tries to impose their will on the materials, and actually that makes really bad art (usually). You have to allow things to surface and go with what arises. What arises usually is better than what you wanted to make in the first place! It’s quite a mystical process. You have to give yourself up to it.

  2. On December 30th, 2011 at 7:50 pm ianmobsby said:

    Thats interesting Mike that you see it as a mystical process. Is that like submission of the task, letting go, is it that sort of process in art too?

  3. On December 30th, 2011 at 8:22 pm artbizness said:


    It took me a long time to see it that way, but there is definitely always that element to it for me. Most of my most successful works have been made that way.

    Generating art or music or poetry comes out of “play”, in the sense of getting lost in playing with stuff (paint if you’re a painter, words if you’re a poet, music if you’re a musician).

    There’s definitely a sense of losing oneself in it, and then a certain “magic” happens where you suddenly catch on to something. If you’re not being attentive or fully in the moment, then you can miss that moment and you’ve lost it – the work won’t get made. It takes a lot of practise, and most artists will only show about 10% of their work for that reason. You have to get through 90% dross first before you can even get to the point where you’re ready. I’m always surprised at the number of musicians especially, even very famous and successful musicians, who talk about this very thing.

    It’s not talked about so much in art, as it’s seen as either detracting, specific to a certain style of art, backwards or nonsense. Or a combination of all four.