In Life As in Art: Lessons from the Studio
“Behemoth and Leviathan”
c. 1805 – 1810
I love the paintings of William Blake. I don’t share his religious sensibilities, but when I look closely at them I share something beyond the literal interpretations, into the vision.
Many people will marvel at his work but dismiss his genius as fueled by insanity.
Sometimes I wonder if the greatest insanity is the compliant acceptance of the culture we live in and the restrictions it imposes on our vision.
Look at a Blake painting for a very long time. The next time you look at a flower, look for a very long time. Look at another person’s face for a very long time.
Apply the same thing to your thoughts. The next time you are contemplating an issue, look at it from all angles, look at your emotions as they form themselves around your thoughts and move them from side to side, shifting their very essence into something new… more tangible perhaps. Or more accessible, more palatable, more digestible. We blind ourselves to the truth of our own existence and shrink ourselves to fit into a world that needs to keep us small and obedient. And it is safer to stay small than to expand into a space we are unfamiliar with.
“If the doors of perception were cleansed everything would appear to man as it is, infinite.”
William Blake “The Marriage of Heaven and Hell”
|Work in Progress from the Studio (This one is mine)
There is a lot of insanity around us in this culture we live in. And so little time to contemplate. The Buddha told his followers not to believe what he said, but rather to go out and find the truth for themselves.
We find by searching, we see by looking, not for what we already know, but for what we haven’t known yet. And that takes a lot of time, an excruciatingly long look without turning away.
Old thoughts need to be released in order for new thoughts to arise, and when we hold onto our beliefs and opinions we don’t see what is before us.
The man who never alters his opinion is like standing water, and breeds reptiles of the mind.
William Blake “A Memorable Fancy”
In life as in art, the experience is entirely up to us. It just depends on how long you are willing to look and how wide you are willing to see. The possibilites are infinite.