Most of us think of an artist as a person who creates art, often as an occupation, whose creative work shows imagination and sensitivity. An artist has also been defined as a person who is skilled at some activity, such as a dancer, a musician, a singer, a skater, etc. My own definition of being an artist has come out of my own, lifelong experience of what happens to me when I’m in the process of creating – when the creative “flow” is unleashed. There is a unique phenomenon that occurs for me, and it is that I have the feeling and knowing that the creative force, the creativity itself, and even the skill, is coming down through the top of my head and out my hands. The first time I became consciously aware of this, and could put words to it, was when I was around eleven or twelve years old.
Once, when my stepson was eight, we were driving in the car and a jazz tune was playing that I was very familiar with. I was singing along, improvising with nonsense syllables, creating my own melody along with the music. My stepson, who is now a professional musician, suddenly began singing along with me in perfect harmony, out of the clear blue! I had never heard this child sing before, though he had been taking piano lessons for several years. The spontaneous, excellent demonstration of his creativity and musical ear told me that music was definitely his gift. He was absorbed only in the creating of the sound, without a thought.
I use both myself as a painter and my son as a musician as two examples of children who had been free of the mind, free of all thought and conceptualization, while in the inspired moment of creativity. The ability to create from this space has continued for both of us throughout our lives, which is true for many artists. Abundance, a concept generally understood via manifesting financial prosperity, is showing up throughout the universe in infinite ways; in nature, in human love and compassion, and in the creative force of life itself.
When I was teaching fine art to children and adults, it was the students who were listening to their minds who had difficulty being imaginative and who were hard on themselves. Those who allowed themselves to be free, who came to class with an open heart and a calm but playful attitude, enjoyed themselves completely and were able to tap into the creative flow without experiencing any stressful thoughts. The challenge of teaching art was not just about imparting technical knowledge, it was in showing each individual student, of every age, that he or she has access to this creative force simply by allowing oneself to rise above (not listen to) the mind and just let go. Every one of my students was able to do this, once it was pointed out.
It would seem that being able to allow the creative flow is an enlightened state. I was recently reading about Zen, a branch of Buddhism that developed in China during the sixth and seventh centuries. A central element of Zen meditation is to free the mind of all thought and conceptualization. Zen stresses the importance of the enlightenment experience and the futility of rational thought, intellectual study and religious ritual in attaining this.
And Boheme Magazine (“An Online Magazine of Arts, Literature and Subversion”) defines a true artist as “the revolutionary who participates with Divinity in the act of creation and the mechanics of human evolution. It is always an artist of some type – painter, writer, philosopher, teacher, scientist – who advances the enlightenment and progress of humanity.” I believe that every artist has been blessed with the ability to tap into the divine energy that already moves through us. It’s simply a matter of changing one’s perception of what creative abundance really is. The zen of being an artist is to simply let go of the mind and let the divine light of the Creator flow through.