One of the Most Amazing and Enlightened Artists That You’ve Probably Never Heard Of!

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Some years ago, I came across the artwork of Nandalal Bose at the Philadelphia Art Museum.  Although he is not very well known in the US, he was famous in his native country of India.  He was a main figure in the revival of Indian style art.  Nandalal studied under Abanindranath Tagore (the name may sound familiar, since he was a nephew of the philosopher poet, Rabindranath Tagore.) Nandalal also knew Mahatma Gandhi, and was influenced by his philosophy and in turn used some of his art to promote Gandhi’s work.

The more I read about Nandalal Bose, the more I was amazed at the similarities in our thinking about art.  Pramod Chandra described Nandalal’s philosophy, “In Hindu thought, God creates the world as an act of lila, or divine play, and Nandalal captured this underlying sense of joy in his paintings.”  That is what I have been striving towards, moving away from realism and into expressionism, creating artwork that would make a person feel that joy.

Nandalal said about his work,  “The Universe has come out of Ananda [supernatural delight],” says the Upanishad.  This delight includes and transcends all joys and sorrows.  All artists work out of this creative delight; this decides whether any work is creative or not… The purpose of Art is… to capture that rhythm of delight inherent in all creation, within their movement and measure.  In this Art has some similarities with the spiritual quest.  The spiritual quest drives towards the recognition of the essential unity at the center of the diversity of creation, of the One by which you know all.  Art too moves towards the vision of this great One.”  

For a lovely 5 minute video showing my artwork and talking about Nandalal Bose and our mysterious connection, click on the below link:

Bringing the Infinite into Finite Form; or more musings on creating

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I was reading some writing advice from Stephen King and some of his words really struck me.  He said,

“The magic is in you.”

I think I’m going to hang this one on my wall above my writing space.  We get distracted with the mundane life and somehow this gets forgotten in the hustle and bustle.  

In the book, “The Mission of Art”, Alex Grey goes on to say that “the artist brings the infinite into finite form…”“An artist’s divine imagination, their soul, links the infinite presence of God with the finite physical world where the artist brings spirit to form.” This understanding of my art merges with my current understanding of my spiritual beliefs. As Inigo Montoya says in the movie, The Princess Bride, “Let me explain…no, there is too much. Let me sum up…” 

Imagine the beginnings of the Universe… Everything condensed into one single point, which exploded outward filling the emptiness with matter. All the matter/energy of the Universe, forming and coalescing into suns and planets. Our tiny planet spinning and transforming. The energy solidifying into matter becoming water and land and living things. Single-celled creatures mutating and transforming into more and more complex forms. Complex living things in the ocean, moving onto land, transforming and changing. Such a wonder of variety… fish, insects, birds, mammals and people. Green things transforming the energy of the sun into itself. Animals eating the plants/sun-energy and transforming it into itself. We are all made of “star stuff.” We are matter. We are energy. Other names that have been used to identify this energy can be Spirit, Magic or God. We have that God-force within us and are continuing the process of creation. We imagine things and then we turn that energy solid; into art, relationships, writing or inventions. 

Science tells us that very element heavier than hydrogen has been forged in the heart of a star. In the television show, Babylon-5, J. Michael Straczynski stated through the wise character of Delenn the perspective that all living beings are created from the same elements that make up the Babylon-5 space station and the stars (ie. nitrogen, iron, hydrogen, etc). Delenn states, “We are star stuff. We are the universe made manifest, trying to figure itself out.”

Different thinkers have come to the same conclusion and have been able to verbalize it in different ways… Ann Kent Rush stated, “Creativity is really the structuring of magic.” Rabindranath Tagore, the Bengali mystic stated “ The same stream of life that runs through my veins night and day, runs through the world and dances in rhythmic measures. It is the same life that shoots in joy through the dust of the earth in numberless blades of grass, and breaks into tumultuous waves of leaves and flowers.” Stephen Nachmanovitch, a musician, author and computer artist said, “The imagination is our true self, and is in fact the living creating God within us.”

That wonderful energy fills me up and flows out of my fingers in my artwork. I feel like the 13th century poet, Rumi, was talking directly to me when he wrote, 

“Hundreds of thousands of impressions from the invisible world are eagerly wanting to come through you. I get dizzy with the abundance.”

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“All of Creation” by Patricia Robin Woodruff 11″x14″ mixed media (ink and watercolor)

The Creative Force and Spring

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In this part of the world, the Spring Equinox is upon us.  While the weather still wobbles between winter chill and warmer temperatures, I think of the words of Rabindranath Tagore,

The same stream of life that runs through my veins night and day 
runs through the world and dances in rhythmic measures. 

It is the same life that shoots in joy through the dust of the earth 
in numberless blades of grass 
and breaks into tumultuous waves of leaves and flowers.

This is the creative force that also runs through our veins, causing us to create.  We may have our fallow times, where the creative ideas are just not flowing, but that doesn’t mean they are no longer with us.  They are just waiting for the right time to blossom.  

We should also not stifle *how* they blossom.  Sometimes my creativity comes forth in a drawing, sometimes in writing, other times I think of a poem and then *that* inspires a painting.  That just means that you can add “polymath” to your biography.  Rabindranath Tagore was a polymath; writing poetry, stories, dramas, and songs, as well as drawing and painting.  Much of his work was deeply philosophical.  He was certainly a man in touch with the creative force and an inspiration to me.

So here’s a Spring affirmation, as we balance on the edge of the seasons:

I am a conduit for the creative force.  It flows to me as naturally as the force that causes flowers to blossom.

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Creativity Nourishes the Soul

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Now imagine if John Lennon had composed “Imagine” for the ukulele
Maybe people would have truly got the message

You may think my approach is simple-minded and naïve
Like if you wanna change the world then why not quit and feed the hungry?
But people for millennia have needed music to survive
And that is why I’ve promised John that I will not feel guilty

These are part of the lyrics by musician, Amanda Palmer.  In her song “Ukulele Anthem”, she sings about her philosophy that violence can be minimized by fostering people’s creativity.

I agree that bringing more of that creative energy into your life, leaves less room for destructive tendencies.  Art, poetry, writing, music and other creative activities are essential for a happy, functioning society.  It is just as vital to nourish the soul as it is to nourish the body.

Amanda’s song inspired me to paint my visual interpretation of “Ukulele Anthem”.

Ukelele Anthem

So at the same time that I work for social justice causes, I also use my art and writing to help change the world for the better.  I urge all my creative friends to “promise John” Lennon that they won’t feel guilty for taking the time for their creativity.  It shapes the world into a better place!

Blessed by Creativity

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One of my goals is to create more joy in the world.  When a painting makes someone smile in the morning, and they go off to work with a better attitude or when my writing can inspire a person towards a more meaningful life, that’s when I feel that I’m fulfilling my mission.

By increasing the joy, beauty, spirituality and awareness in the world I can make it a better place.  The focus of my creativity is to remind people of their connection to each other and to Spirit.  So I am embarking on the adventure of a blog to share this creative spirit with a wider audience, hoping it becomes like a flame lighting the candles of others’ creativity.

Like the pre-Raphaelite artist, William Morris said, “… I determined to do no less than to transform the world with Beauty.  If I have succeeded in some small way, if only in one small corner of the world, amongst the men and women I love, then I shall count myself blessed, and blessed, and blessed…”

A pouring forth from the heart.

A pouring forth from the heart.