A New Work Emerges
Now that I am painting again, and writing ART LOOKS, I am a much happier and well rounded human being. I had my time on the Pequod, under the thumb of my mental Captain Ahab, hobbling around on my ivory peg-leg in search of the elusive White Whale. Moby Dick is not it. Some kind of slaying of the “unbearable replica of divinity” did not take place. I ended up slaying myself. And my hiatus of diligent discontent proved fruitless in the art realm of my life. I discovered I am better off staying in the flow, and whether I know what I am doing or not, whether I sell paintings or not, whether anyone sees and appreciates what I am doing or not—all those “nots” do not amount to the smallest dustball of significance.
All that really matters is that I not give up. I keep painting. I move forward and draw my own destiny as a co-creator I am meant to be. I may not draw like Michelangelo, but so what? Plenty of great artists did not draw like Michelangelo.
I thank all of you who are back in the swing with me. We swung to the far reaches of a necessary absence, but now it is time to get back to the Art business at hand. I have long felt the integration of photographic images into my painting would come with a greater range. Now I am certain it will come. In fact, it is already here.
The Babaji / Christ / Divine Mother presence in my work will most always be there. On this one, Grail and Wings, I chose a painting of Christ I saw in Toledo, Spain, by El Greco, and Babaji. I decoupaged them on there. Then it became clear there should be a grail form, then wing forms.
How Drawing Clarifies
I got the painting this far, and then felt it would be prudent to explore a drawing to work out some of the linear elements. So I pretty much took over the kitchen table and the living room with my painting / drawing activities today. Sondra does not mind because she likes to see me happily engaged in my passion. Drawing is the clarification for a painter. It is the skeleton of the body of the painting. I like to draw in tandem with the painting. They emerge together and support one another.
Since I am throwing myself into the unknown from the very start, I can just as easily start that process on the canvas. But once a direction emerges, there may be some clarification I need to work out in a drawing.
The “old” becomes newly charged
Wings and the Grail meld together. Sometimes the “old” becomes newly charged with a broader purpose. I painted this large 5-panel work around 2001, titled simply “Grail.” So this theme has been on my mind, and every artist seems to be seeking for his own “holy grail” of expression that best describes his own Being. This work also has a left and a right “wing.”
Babaji & Jesus meld together
Babaji and Jesus meld together in my world too. The Maha Avatar whom Sondra met in the foothills of the Himalayas in northern India in 1977 has been part of her life ever since. I have been to His ashram well over a dozen times myself, and attest to the sacredness of His Presence directly. Jesus was my childhood guru / savior. They are one to me, Babaji and Jesus, each imparting particular life lessons. Jesus—the lesson of deep forgiveness; Babaji the honoring of the elements and the Divine Mother.
A drawing emerges spontaneously too. I meet myself in a place beyond my own thinking. The medium, the hands, the tools, the subject greater than myself, all seem to harmonize and reveal themselves. All I have to do is keep up with the movement. Some gestures I’ve done 10,000 times, but the thing emerging is always new–the blank sheet of paper or canvas is always open to unprecedented possibilities.
The Gift is the Grail from which we drink, and Fly to heights of our own being.
We have the mission here on earth to be our true Self. Thoreau wrote, “The greatest service a man can render to his fellow men is to rise to the height of his own being.” So this is the purpose of painting and drawing, to take the artist to the height of his own being, and in that process bring you, the viewer, along with him on this heroic journey. Poised before the work of art, we drink the wine from the grail of our communion with it, and fly to heights of our shared Being, well above our limited notions we once held about ourselves.
The grail is here, in plenty of scenarios and experiences. But we have to bring it to the forefront of our life. It is a communion we have with the present, whatever that is for us.
Back to the canvas painting
Now that I have my structural bearings from the drawing, I am going back to the canvas to give it another pass of strokes. Let’s see where it’s going. In the drawing, the “Grail” is less obvious. It comes in as a “Y” shape.
The way I work on a painting is in stages. Each stage sets up the conditions for the next stage. I just follow along. I look and listen for the next strokes. It’s a pretty organic process. I am not trying to preconceive myself. Just be in the flow of my own divine inspiration.
I engage in a 30-45 minute period of painting. Then I step away and take a breather. It gives the painting and me room to breathe and integrate. Now that these “creation articles” are emerging, I write a bit on the article, throw in a pic or a video, have a cup of coffee, answer some emails, then go back to the paint brushes. It may only be a 20 minute break, but when I do go back to the painting it is as if I have not seen it before, and the next set of “moves” will be unaffected by the momentum of the last ones. I see different things when I let go, in other words. Not so easy to do when I work constantly and take no breaks. The breaks actually propel the process forward, more effortlessly.
It all comes together in the end
“It’s Wonderful. It’s Marvelous, that you should care for me.” Diana Krall playing over the Alexa. This is how I feel about the spiritual masters. Where would we be without them? Hacking it out with our egos, trying to make sense out of the nonsensical?
Not many know of Babaji compared to Jesus as a spiritual master. But that is perhaps my job in this life. Grail & Wings puts the two together in close and equal proximity. Both came to teach unconditional Love. Their methods were different, but their message was the same: Truth, Simplicity, Love and Service to humanity.
Coming into the home stretch, what I learned about this process is that I love it for what it is. I always go through this period I call the “ugly duckling phase” in which the painting seems like a bundle of disparate parts. Then Wham! I cross a threshold where it all starts coming together.
I did not take a movie of this stage, because I had to do some slow and tedious moves that would have been distracting to the movie and to myself having to think about it. So in the final stage five, I just went for completion. Here is the final result, and you can go here to purchase. https://markusray.com/shop-the-gallery/grail-wings/
Thank you for joining me on this journey.