Sunday, February 15, 2009

Zen and the Art of Beadmaking

Philosophy and Religion are fun topics. Oh Yeah, you heard me right…discussion unending to be had here. Not that I really like those continuing discussions because I prefer to have the philosophy of “live and let live” or “agree to disagree” and have always found it does my psyche’ and mental well-being a whole lot better to keep an open mind, listen, honestly state my opinion of what I believe and let it go. An ideal; yes, impossible…NO! But sometimes it ain’t easy.

Since I debate with teenagers most days (an unending losing battle) I’ve been thinking about an old read – Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. Working around teens tends to scatter the thought process a tad. You have to think on your feet, be quick witted, and sometimes deep thinking can last a whole 30 seconds, hahahaha. I have freely admitted to scribbling on ANYTHING. I always have an ink pen in my pocket. In fact, I could use a pocket protector for my neckline since I often put one there. What a fashion statement that would be! It works for me because if I can’t hold a thought for more than 30 seconds without an interruption I can often scribble a note or draw a quick picture. Glue sticks work great for adding them to drawing tablets, making them easy for quick reference or later refinement.

While I was looking through some recent sketches of beads and metal pieces I want to create I was thinking how UN-Zen my life has become…like somehow I had actually found my “happy spot”. Uh huh, sure. The researching and sketching fool that I am led to some Zen research. If I want some Nirvana then I’m thinking I ought to be able to define it first. Name it and claim it – right? Profound, that would be doubtful. But what the hell, making beads is a lot like Zen. You get into the zone if you work at it. Every once in awhile you get a kiln full of beads that are “just right” and you feel like Goldilocks. Here is what I found.

How to practice Zen

“There are numerous ways and different approaches. If you wish to approach Zen casually, one way to add a touch of Zen to enrich your daily life is to be aware of whatever you are doing at the moment. When you are reading this line, be aware that you are reading this line, including its meaning and significance. This may not be as straightforward as it appears. Some people, for example, may be thinking of a hundred things other than the meaning of the line they are reading. Another way is to be simple, direct and effective in whatever you say and do. If you want to borrow your friend's tennis racket, for example, ask him politely or in whatever way is appropriate if he can lend you his racket. It will be unZenlike if you start by saying how pleasant the weather is, or how nice his shoes are, and drag on for half an hour before losing track of the tennis racket

Recent activities have helped with an understanding of what goes on in the art-making brain. The encouragement of Zen-like lapses can be useful both in the studio and the great outdoors. We start with the understanding that a relaxed brain more easily accesses natural creative

In the preparation phase, minimal anxieties, few regrets and a state of well-being preheat the oven. Shuffling of the recipe cards is also valuable. Here are a few ideas:

Have an attitude of low expectations and nothing to lose.
Try to make deliberate, thoughtful, rhythmic movements.
While not necessarily alone, be solitary.
Allow yourself to dream, flow and indulge your fancies.
Be philosophic about your weaknesses and creative faults.
Let your tools and your media do the talking.
Let your work tell you what it needs.
Let yourself yin and yang between thought and no thought.
Accept imperfection.
Try for the spirit of attaining.
Teach yourself to teach yourself as you go.
Be in the now, but look gently ahead.
Be not lazy in your relaxation.

In the mystery we call life, certain work can be certain joy, and it has something to do with surrender to the more primitive, playful and automatic parts of our brain

I’m not trying to be funny here, but artists need to develop a feeling of privilege and a sense of good fortune, even if the feeling has to be artificially induced. This self-foolery, a sort of mental levitation, brings on a state of mind that facilitates easy-going exploration. The active seduction of one’s own mind is a significant key to creative progress.”

So, what do you think? Goldilocks here needs a little mind seduction. First I’m going to ply the palette with some buttered popcorn (the self-privilege part). I’m planning on being
one with the bead.


angelinabeadalina said...

Melting glass is the only time I've ever felt like I could understand the whole Zen thing. . .when I'm melting the glass, I get totally into what I'm doing. The rest of the time, I'm usually entertaining 43 different thoughts at one time, certainly not Zen, huh?

P.S.When I worked at the daycare, I used to drive everyone nuts because I always carried an ink pen but didn't always have paper with me. Since we washed our hands constantly, I couldn't scribble notes on my palm so I'd put them on the inside of my forearm.

Right Turn ArtWerks said...

Ang - I do the same thing if I can't find a napkin or something. I am so laughing at us...I swear I'd go crazy if I didn't have a pen with me. Sneak me one in when they lock me Up!

rosebud101 said...

I understand what you mean about the Zen feeling. Melting glass has taken my mind off of many things I have had to deal with in the last 6 years. It's amazing how calming it is.