A MATTER OF LIFE AND DEATH
Occasionally, I am asked how long it takes me to do a painting and, usually, there is a long pause as I grapple with how to answer. When exactly does the process start? When paint touches paper? This photo essay will reveal just how integrated the life/art process can be. The genesis for my mandala of Infinite Life was a conversation I had with a very old gingko tree in May of 2013. I finished painting just last week, February, 2014.
Development of a mandala in the Infinite Qualities print series requires focus and embodiment of the theme, in this case that of Infinite Life. I received guidance from a few trees and a recently deceased friend, as well as other evolutionary and involutionary forces. I was inspired by Eckhart Tolle’s writing to turn off my inner monologue and feel my own life energy, and then the life energy all around:
“Beyond the beauty of external forms, there is something more here: something that cannot be named, something ineffable, some deep, inner, holy essence. Whenever and wherever there is beauty, this inner essence shines through somehow. It only reveals itself to you when you are present.
Could it be that this nameless essence and your presence are one and the same?
Go deeply into it. Find out for yourself.”
I sat with this venerable tree for a few days before we were able to communicate. When we did, quite a lot of information came through, including a perspective on the sacred quality of life.
When asked how much longer he/she would be alive, he/she replied, “another 17 years.” That would be until the year 2030. But:
“Life will continue on in another form. It is the sacred life force which is important, not the form it temporarily takes. Life is movement, evolution, creation and destruction.
Life begins as a thought in the Creator’s mind.
The thought creates a pattern.
The thought-created pattern manifests as form.
Do not become attached to the form.
Form is not what it seems to be, solid or permanent.
It is shimmering Light, creating an illusion of solidity.
How you respond or react to Illusion determines your path.”
The tree, also, pointed out that my work can contribute to human-plantworld relations by opening human eyes to the devic level. Up till now, I have emphasized sacred, creational geometry. (I am fascinated by the notion that the geometric lattice exists before something shows up in form, and that the lattice then continues to interpenetrate the form.) Going forward, the work will also convey the innate, indwelling intelligence of plants.
While still in Tokyo, my husband and I went to this exhibit where my passion for the quintessentially Japanese painting style called Nihonga was re-ignited. Nihonga artists are adept at capturing the patterns and mystery found in nature.
I later found myself in the Nihonga section of a good art supply store and was dazzled by pigments ground from azurite, lapis lazuli, malachite, ochres and cochineal.
Working on this collage was an intuitive process and it gave me the basic elements that would be developed in the mandala of Infinite Life: a bird’s eye view of a blooming cherry tree and the rhythm set up by similar motifs being mostly the same color. The eye jumps from one group (the dark pink buds, the white blossoms, etc.) to another, from one plane to another. The dots and dashes inside each blossom are metallic gold.
In October, I had a wonderful meeting with Dr.Mitch Gaynor, oncologist and sound healer. He commented that he had never seen artwork like mine before and tentatively agreed to write a guided meditation to accompany my upcoming mandala of Infinite Life. He presented me with a couple of his exquisite recordings of crystal singing bowls layered with the sounds of nature: Crystal Sonic Therapy. Utilizing Brainwave Entrainment technology and a set of earphones, the Sampler CD helps create coherent alpha, beta, gamma or delta waves in the brain. I used those sounds to structure the water used to dilute my paints and played the CD while painting.
Watercolorist Janet Morgan attended the opening and mentioned she would be taking a Nihonga workshop taught by Judith Kruger in January and did I want to go? Synchronicity! Divine Guidance! (We went. We learned a tremendous amount in just four days.)
The opening was blessed by the presence of poet Faybiene Miranda, who read the poem “Tiers of Joy” written in response to my mandala of Infinite Health. As she read the final lines, she took my hand and held it to her heart. The amount of love flowing was so strong, it was a little painful! “May not the hand of art be shaken!”
Six weeks later, at the Winter Solstice, Faybiene made her transition to the ancestral realm. For days, I felt that same overwhelming love from her and it was painful, until I learned to return it in kind.
I took Faybiene’s spirit on as a consultant while developing the mandala of Infinite Life. She said, “There’s nothing to be afraid of, Pam. It’s all Love here.”
This tree lives down the street from me and is a dear friend. One day, she advised me that, in order to understand Infinite Life, I should look into what happens after death. That night, CNN aired “To Heaven and Back,” stories of life, death and faith. I, also, started reading “Home with God, In a Life That Never Ends” by Neale Donald Walsch. I’d already been reading Eckhart Tolle’s “Practicing the Power of Now” and found this appropriate passage:
“The acceptance of suffering is a journey into death. Facing deep pain, allowing it to be, taking your attention into it, is to enter death consciously. When you have died this death, you realize that there is no death – and there is nothing to fear. Only the ego dies.
Imagine a ray of sunlight that has forgotten it is an inseparable part of the sun and deludes itself into believing it has to fight for survival and create and cling to an identity other than the sun. Would the death of this delusion not be incredibly liberating?
Do you want an easy death? Would you rather die without pain, without agony? Then die to the past every moment, and let the light of your presence shine away the heavy, time-bound self you thought of as ‘you.'”
The geometric pattern is based on the number 5, creating self-replicating stars and pentagons. This geometry is the source of golden spirals, golden proportions and is found in all flowers that become fruit.
Observe in the next several photographs the many layers that constitute the mandala of Infinite Life. Each layer could have been presented as a finished painting. Each layer had to “die” in order to give birth to the next layer, the next version of the mandala.
There is a private chamber in the soul
that knows the great secret of which no tongue can speak.
Your existence my dear, O love…my dear, has been sealed and marked
“Too sacred, too sacred,” by the Beloved, to ever end!
Indeed, God has written a thousand promises
All over your heart that say
Life, life, life is far
I love you, Faybiene!