What is the artist's process from the "ahah moment" of an idea, to making it into a work of art? In this series of blogs, I want to take you with me on this journey.
I think of this process as channeling something from "the Beyond." How can I bring the idea into this physical world, and work with it, until it takes on a life of its own?
In the beginning of Genesis, I think of God as the consummate Artist. God's medium is all the matter of Creation, before it is even matter! In Hebrew, the verb "to create" (lavrie, or bara) can only have God as the subject, because it means to make something from nothing.
For us human artists, the Hebrew word: l'hagshim is more fitting. It means to realize, carry out, effect, execute. What's so inviting about this word? It comes from the root geshem, rain. Therefore it conjures up all that makes a bit of dust become a raindrop and "fall" into our world: moisture slowly condensing until it is significant enough, heavy enough, to drop into our presence. So the "aha" is like the dust mote, and then, I need to collect the thoughts of "moisture" that will bring the idea down to earth.
Here is the process I went through with my painting of "The Four Angels."
There is a compelling piece of liturgical poetry in our bedtime prayers. It gives voice to an idea, that If you speak the prayer, it can move from an idea to an experience:
"In the name of Adonai, the Holy One of Israel, on my right is Michael, on my left is Gavriel, before me Uriel, behind me Raphael, and up above, the Holy Shechinah."
Michael, whose name means "Who is like God," to hold one's hand in order to accompany, so that you might not be alone;
Gabriel, "the Power of God," with his flaming sword, to cut out the detritus in one's life;
Uriel, "the Light of God," to illuminate one's path forward, even if that be only one step at a time.
Raphael, "the Healing of God" who binds up the wounds, spiritual or physical, cleaning up the trail,
and Shechinah, the felt experience of the Divine Presence hovering overhead.
Melodies have made this quote into a singing meditation very useful when people are at their most vulnerable: very ill, dying, or in mourning.
Inevitably, when I have sung this prayer, if the person is conscious, they nod in understanding. I have been told by a relative that she believed this meditation helped her mother release her suffering struggle and die.
I felt I needed to make an illumination to keep this vision present; a reminder that we are, at all times, surrounded by angels. Next: "In the Mind's Eye."