Introduction to Meditative Painting

Basic Difference between a Painting and a Sketch

The fundamental difference between a painting and a sketch is that a painting is led by the colors, while a sketch is led by the shapes. It is more linearly correct to start to learn how to paint first, and then to move on to sketching – as color is primal to shape. To illustrate this fact, let us take a new born baby as an example. The baby begins to see first of all colors; starting with black and white shades. It is only later that that baby begins to see and to recognize, shapes and forms.

Taking the above as a basic understanding, it can be seen as “incorrect” to paint a painting that is led by shapes, as is popular in modern art, for this is actually a colorful sketch, but it is not lead by color.

A Philosophical Point of View

Western culture and society has a tendency to consolidate and formulate very quickly. Things are given a shape and definition, pretty much as soon as possible. This habit helps to establish a feel of order and of being in control. This tendency also applies in education, where children are guided in this direction. Asking a small child “what do you want to do when you grow up?” or “what is your favorite food or color?”, and other such questions, helps to establish a defining characteristic, develop a personality and establish specific likes and dislikes.

While it is completely natural that each person has personal preferences, as well as an ego, it seems that they are being emphasized and glorified. This attitude may seem supported and even beneficial, but it is actually based on a lack of trust or on excessive ambition.

On the other hand, cultures that are more receptive, in essence, have an indifferent approach towards one’s individuality; where personal preferences are minimized. This leaves room for change and growth, and also facilitates the ability to go beyond personal boundaries and limitations.

What does all this have to do with painting?

“Correct” painting, so to say, can only happen or be expressed when the colors are allowed to lead, letting them express the specific shapes and themes that arise from their interaction. When the artiest or the practitioner is not imposing themselves, nor trying to take control, real art can take place.

As adults, this sort of work is not easy to us, as we are unfamiliar with being receptive. Most likely, we have always been encouraged to be “pussy” and to give things direction. Painting in a receptive or a meditative way is really a process of surrender, of learning and of going into the unknown.

For more information please refer to our websites: Kodaikanal Yoga Center and Meditative Art School.

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