Deep Song – Arising From Within

In 2003 I began to attend a weekly class to formally learn drawing and painting for my pleasure. I noticed how comfortable and relaxed I was with the experience as a whole. I began experimenting with different mediums from charcoal to pencil, oil and dry pastels, to more traditional oils and water-colours. As my interest grew, I was drawn deeper into exploring my own potential for artistic expression. I began to solicit inspiration from different sources : naturally drawn to the physical form being a yoga enthusiast this was my first port of call. My background in movement, dance and the performing arts followed swiftly behind, underpinned by uplifting and inspiring music.

In the Winter of 2004, I spent a 5 week-long spell in North India on an intensive yoga and meditation retreat. Led by a wholly genuine, inspirational and experiential teacher, Clive Sheridan, this was a truly challenging and transformative experience.

One of our group organised a drawing session and a couple of us joined her. She had learned a few techniques at a life drawing class in London which she shared with us. Nicole modelled some yoga poses and sequences. Instantly, squiggly lines of seemingly uninteresting shapes appeared. Each “drawing” lasted up to a maximum of one minute each, some only between ten to forty seconds. Some were drawn with the left hand, some not looking at the paper, others upside down, some with tip of the pencil. I interpreted these techniques as tools to free up the hand and the mind.

The speed at which we “played” each drawing resonated to me as an integral part of the process, to obviously avoid any attachment to form and to any specific outcome. There was no “best” or “perfect” picture. We drew naturally from within and each picture was in and of itself perfect. There was no place for judgement, criticism, discussion or comparison. Simply sighs of surprise, ease and joy filled the room.

One afternoon, the whole group went for a walk in the burning heat. I stayed behind. I was drawn to look at my “drawings”. The shapes on the paper looked insignificant. As I focused more intently on them, suddenly, and magically from out of the page I saw shapes, direction and flow. I was instantly led to “bold” out some of them. I transferred the “bolded” imaged and shapes to paper and painted. The colours “bled” quite naturally into each other. Within one hour or so there were 4 watercolours – Surya Namaskar I-IV (Sun Salutations I-IV). The whole process happened very naturally and organically with no planning or preconceived notions of any end result. The mind had been completely by-passed and momentarily suspended to allow for the spontaneity to emerge. The ease with which the paintings “arrived” carried with them a flavour of real magic where I experienced a synergy within myself of the art techniques, my breath, body and mind. There emanated an innocent sense of delight and wonder. I was fully present.

Since I returned from India I have been painting in the same way. My first book “Yogaflows“™ which contains spontaneous, meditative, flowing and dynamic sequences, now begins to serve as a vehiclefor artistic expression and inspiration.

I have moved onto oils now and using canvas rather than board. The canvas is alive and moves and dances in rhythm with the brush or finger strokes. I begin with a restricted palette of about three to four colours. As a beginner this is recommended to us, to explore use of colour, range of colours obtainable and mixable with say only three original colours. I intuit a rough idea of what colours a painting will be, and am guided by the feeling and the mood of the moment – moved to mixing and eventually I see emerging a whole palette like a bright rainbow blushing before me.

 I bear witness to the places in myself where I have been “folded” slowly unfolding through this creative practice. It is quite amazing. I just don’t know what’s coming next and that’s all part of the inexplicable fun. It feels so innocent and childlike, and is reminder of the essence of who I am at a very deep level. The place that really counts. I stand back from a painting and see myself observing it; instructions and guidance for the next stage comes from within like bubbles rising to the surface around a fish or a pebble in water.

What emerges on the canvas is a representation of my mood, a longing or a feeling. I am also nourished by what I see symbolically appearing before me. Wherein may lie a message to stimulate my spiritual growth, insights or simply a reflection of the present moment. With each stroke I am invited and gently coaxed to take a little more risk leaving behind fear and stepping into trust.

I am now drawn naturally inwards, into this continuous and exciting process of self-discovery. As I move on inside, so the work moves on outside. The outside then reflects back more of the inside! I feel the “leela” or dance of the Divine’s playground. Externally constantly changing, and yet the ground of my being becoming more and more centred, deep, reliable and solid. A great deck upon which to erect my easel, my yoga, my song, my life.

Yogaflows ™ artwork is an expression of the human spirit, the happening when we let go of striving, trying and doing. The creative impulse arises as if from a deep internal well, one which is quiet, dark and open A place from where, when all thought and action is suspended, arrested or momentarily paused, emerges an incredible energy, a flow, a dynamic movement, an outpouring of spontaneity and freedom.

It is, for me, a felt Presence. A deepening of myself into Divine Creativity. A marriage of Shiva – the masculine principle and Shakti – the female.

When I look at the work, be it the book or the art, the treasure I see is a clear unimpeded space. They have come through me. I can bear no claim on them. They are an expression of everything which is good and whole in each one of us. They come from That place where joy and love flows through and are the source of That unstoppable energy. May you get pleasure, joy and inspiration from them also!

© Mohini Chatlani 2010