Art, Education, and Detachment

This week contained a great deal of ups and downs.  On the up side, I made a break-through in my Life Sculpture class; I found myself reproducing the model’s image more faithfully.  I also felt a greater degree of interest in my work because we were allowed to work on a personal project.  It is still very much “in development” , so I didn’t photograph it yet.  Basically, it is a type of totem, or ode, to femininity.  Hopefully that sentiment will come through when I am finished.

The lowest of the low this week was my Life Drawing critique.  Although I feel like I am doing well, the teacher grades very hard, is very exacting, and is extremely direct in his criticism.  I felt that there was little of anything positive to take away from our interaction.  I left feeling very hurt, deflated, and discouraged.  Fortunately I am my own life coach, so I reminded myself of how far I have come in a short period of time, and that one critique, or even one class, is not the end of the world.

It reminded me of the Buddhist teachings on detachment.  Practicing detachment is not meant to suck all the joy from life or leave us emotionless.  Detachment is a reminder that everything we experience on this planet is just a tiny part of the whole.  It is passing and fleeting.  The visible world is a world of effects, not causes.  What we experience is a manifestation of thoughts and plans that happened in the past.  Our future experiences will be the result of all that we think and do in the present.  And all time is One in the mind of the Infinite.  The only real moment is Now.  Everything else is in our minds.

So, what does that have to do with art?  Well, what I produce now is a culmination of the effort I have made and the training I have received over the past year.  What I do in the future will be a result of the time, practice, and energy I put in now.  The words and opinions of others, even very esteemed and qualified teachers, are only words and opinions.  Whether I receive praise or criticism, it is all the same.  I do what I do not to please and impress others, but to be faithful to the deep urges from within to create.  My responsibility is to continue to create; the quality is up to God; it will evolve as it is meant to evolve.

I hope that all of us remember to receive criticism and praise with equanimity and detachment.  Our responsibility is to do whatever it is we do with love, excellence, and humility of service.  Being a beneficial presence on the planet is its own reward.

Now, go follow your bliss…

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