Capturing Spiritual Essence in Your Art.
I received a great compliment yesterday. A very nice woman who had just come across my work said, “ I love your gentle spiritual approach.” I really liked this as that is my goal in my art, to capture something of the spiritual essence of a subject, no matter what it is.
So, how does one go about capturing spirituality within their art? It really isn’t like you would think, well at least like I would have thought.
If we set out with the thought of capturing the spiritual in our mind, we will tend to try and make it happen, and we will end up with something devoid of spirit, and most likely interest.
The best way, at least in my mind and experience, is not to think about it at all. Go out and find what moves you, what makes you feel something, and capture it as best you can, hoping that what moved you, might move someone else.
I think that probably the best advice I can offer, is to spend time on your spirituality, deepen your connection with the world around you, with nature and people and in my case with God. You may have a different idea of spirituality or method and then pursue that. The more spiritually connected you become, the more it will show in your work.
Probably the two best compliments I have had in my photographic life were first from a friend who is an amazing photographer, he said he could see the connection that I have with nature in my work. That was great. The next was from a wonderful Native American woman who grew up on the same reservation that I did, she said she could tell I was connected to the earth, both from my photos and way I felt things.
I think that the search for fame, recognition and money can seriously hamper this connection. While I perfectly understand having to make a living, if done right, at least as I see it, we will make a living of some kind as we pursue the depth of our art for the sake of the creative process.
I really recoil from the idea of self-expression. It is not my self that I want expressed, but the reality, the beauty, the essence of my subject. I think that art that has become only a mode of self-expression is devoid of life and substance. It is weak and has no life and usually ends up relying on things such as shock value to get noticed.
The ego that foists itself on others, is not one that relates to them in any manner than that of a tyrant demanding adulation. When this type of person seeks self-expression it quickly becomes obvious that they have not asked the most important question. Do they in fact have a self that is worthy or even fit to be expressed?
Attaining any kind of true spiritual connection with the subject absolutely forbids this type of approach. It takes a selflessness in stead. How can we approach the reality of a landscape if we are only interested in ourselves? We cannot connect if our eyes are turned in upon ourselves.
So, there you have it. If we are to attempt at all to relate spiritually with the universe around us we must attempt to become self-less. It really is the only path that I can see.
While our western worldview makes us almost proof against such experience, we can, through time and effort, become less aware of how we think we ought to see, and just learn to see.
As we attempt this, we let ourselves go and enter into the journey, and then we become more spiritual as a person as well as an artist. It can only help us in the long run.
After all we are a being created of of both spirit and matter, we are are already connected, we just need to get out of our own way and experience what is already there.