The Way Of Light
Sherman R. Buck
In 1981, I enrolled in community college in Rochester, NY and took my first art class (required), since elementary school. I had a male instructor who had an incredible gift for expressing creativity. He would tell stories, describing experiences as if you were right there. He talked about the world in ways I had never heard before, nor had considered. For a man he was a head of his time, both keenly aware of the sensuality of the world. At the time, I often surprised myself by saying I couldnít do art, but wound up drawing an incredibly detailed life-like drawing of my hand. But it was here that I first heard about abstracts and for the most part it was how I saw the world via my creative channel. It was what came out of me in a very rough format. After that class I didnít touch art again till 1987. In my mind I wasnít an artist, simply because others either told me so or I never got enough encouragement or guidance on how to smooth out the rough edges. I dropped out of college after one year, mainly because I had learned how to sabotage growth and success of authentic self at the expense of others. I was unconscious of this process as much as everyone else around me.
I was in the Army in Germany (1987), terribly stressed out and in a lot of inner conflict. I donít know what moved me to go buy paints and paper, but I did and proceeded to paint every single sheet of paper in the block I'd purchased. After painting them, I put them up on the walls of my room in the NCO barracks off post, till the Sergeant Major came by one day, telling me to take them down. He was most definitely a stifled artist. Leaving the military began a new stage of my life of switching gears to a new way of living that eventually led to a move to Seattle in 1990. At some point I met some people who were artists, and began participating in their art group. This began my own journey into exploring my creative urges that were badly stifled. For thirty some years, I thought I wasnít an artist. Into my thirties the life I had created through the cultural belief system began to fall apart. I began my inner journey as something deep within moved me to begin painting and expressing this hidden inner domain. Through this intuitive need I began to remove the blocks to my creativity. I have left out the early years of my beginnings, but one can see by the number of paintings in each year as a guide to what was going on within and without. Soul was speaking to me in a language of color.
Later, Julia Cameron's books on "The Artist's Way" assisted in my reconnection to my creative source with lots of writing and contemplation through her various books on creativity. Being outdoors with Nature, in all her elements, also helped me to reconnect to my body that housed this creativity. In the process of finding my creativity, I began to find my authentic self. The creative process assists us in being whole and being supported by the Universe. I believe that all people are creative beings. We were born from creativity itself and are creativity. This is the stuff of God/Goddess; the Mother and Father in the Universe that is in all of us. When we stay connected to this source of creativity, it supports us unconditionally. This source helps us to create a life of abundance in all aspects of our lives. I consider creativity the same as spirituality; a paradox and a metaphor of divine importance.
One of my favorite artists is Wassily Kandinsky. His book, "Concerning the Spiritual in Art," helped me to realize what was coming out in my art. Kandinsky stated:
value only those artists who really are artists, that is, who consciously or
unconsciously, in an entirely original form, embody the expression of their
inner life; who work only for this end and cannot work otherwise."
To this end, what comes out of me is more than who I think I am. I donít think about what it is that I paint. I am merely an extension of something that desires to create. This creativity, God/Goddess, challenges my beliefs and constantly pushes my boundaries. When I began to paint I wasnít much on color. Today I have no favorite colors for they are all representative of the full spectrum of color, of life itself. To choose one is to limit the possibilities of life itself. Sometimes the colors are so incredible that I have this urge to be them or eat them (This is called synesthesia). Culture itself limits us and it is this limitation in all its elements that has stifled the creative spirit in all of us. Spirit is eternal, it is in everything, and it is in all of us, one without question. Creativity like Spirituality is very fluid, always changing. In their dysfunction/insanity, humans like things to be concrete and safe. I am always awed by these particular words by Helen Keller relating to security:
is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of
men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than
outright exposure. It is either a daring adventure or nothing at all."
Like Helen, most of humanity is truly unable to hear, speak, or see from the authentic self. We are a stifled lot. In our unawareness, we do things to ourselves and to others that are unspeakable and yet they must be spoken about. This is the true challenge of the artist, to bring forth that which must be spoken about from within. The voice of spirit within is always speaking to us in images, words, and metaphors. We are constantly being directed to the truths we have forgotten and unconsciously ignore, due to our upbringing. So, without fanfare, the artist births these truths for the world to see and some birth those things that have never before been experienced in this reality.
Abstracts have always fascinated me. They speak intuitively to me from the right brain perspective, the knowing without knowing how we know. This feeling sense is not acknowledged well in our patriarchal culture, which is intent on stifling the feminine in all beings. It is interesting to note that patriarchal culture would not exist if we didnít suppress the feminine. If we are to know the wholeness of the body, mind, soul, and spirit connection, we will need to find, access, and embrace this aspect; emotions - to express, to act, to move. Our feelings know absolute truth. This feeling mode is the spiritual dimension within us all that desires to be free to move, to express itself honestly and with integrity to create wholeness. We live in a culture that denies wholeness because it is fearful of the power of Spirit. Until we open to Spirit, our intellectualism will continue to illusion us. Until we feel what we know, we will continue to be unconscious to our Spiritual Beingness. Spirit is the only thing that will fill the void.
To this end my art has moved me into the feeling realm of Spirituality. When I paint, time and space disappear. I give birth to the larger reality of which most of us are disconnected from, the greater truths that we are unconscious about. These movements are part of that unearthing, moving the unseen into the non-verbal imagery that pours out of me. When I look at my paintings they speak to me in a silent language of feelings. What they speak of moves me deeply, calling to be understood, moving me to seek answers. The last several years have been more revealing as unseen images materialize out of my abstracts. This typically happens when emerging from the dream realm upon awakening in the morning, as I gaze at the images on the walls. My spiritual journeys reveal hidden images, themes, and wisdom that speak of dimensions that most of us are oblivious too. I believe that we all have the ability to become conscious and enlightened. Creativity is the Spiritual essence that can and will move us towards that path of enlightenment. This is the biggest reason why the expression of art is stifled in us all. In kindergarten we all did art and we enjoyed it. By the time we left high school there were but a few who were told they were artistic. I consider this the cultural lie that disempowers us from our creative source. It is how others control us at the expense of our authentic selves. Creating releases us from this control so that we can create our life as we see it. When we become conscious of our creative process we will begin to see the positive and negative consequences of what we create. We will effectively move into the enlightenment stage when we make conscious choices to create for the benefit of all beings from a state of equality and dignity. We do that by Being authentic, by being present with our creative expressions, we give others permission to create themselves as authentic Beings too.
Our culture values art as a materialistic object, an investment for further monetary value, or a way of showing off affluence. What needs to occur is a shift to the spiritual essence in all things. Art can and does heal, either through creating our own or in surrounding ourselves with what we consider beautiful; what touches our deepest parts. Art can harmonize and balance our living environments with warmth, color, movement, expressions, imagery, peacefulness, and a connection to a deeper aspect of life. Art fills that space we have no words; it soothes the Soul. The ancient art of Feng-shui focuses on this balance in our environment. If you think about it, Nature herself is always in a process of creative balance. Humans out of touch with their inner Nature are always out of touch with their outer Nature. When we devalue our inner world we devalue the outer world. Balance is crucial for awareness. If we begin to understand the spiritual value of art we will make space in our environment to connect with the living spiritual creator within. I must have art on my walls where I live. My living environment is a representation of my inner sacred space. My whole living space is a sacred altar. Those who say they cannot afford art are really saying that they cannot afford Spirit. In essence we go out and spend endless amounts of money on short-term "things" in hopes that it will fill the spiritual void within. Those who do not realize the spiritual value in a piece of art have no awareness of their own spiritual value. We all have value, but culture can never validate our value. This value cannot be gotten from others or from things. We have to get it from ourselves from within. This value is your self-worth, your self-validation and as such your self-respect. This is the value of art, for it is a powerful mirror of what we are, where we came from, and where we are going. We are made of the stuff of stars. Look within and you will find what you seek.