Unity of Self and Art
Harmony is belonging and contributing to a greater whole
“Unity” is artspeak for success.
Unity is a state of integrity; a harmony where the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Everything in the artwork contributes toward the intention of the artist; every component belongs and amplifies the potential web of deeper and richer meaning.
There is no 10 point checklist for unity.
We know it when we experience it in poetry, in music, in sports, and in art. Unity is sometimes called “gestalt”. The Picasso painting below may be complex but it completely unifies the artist with his message about the horrors of war. The more we study this painting the more it reveals to us.
Our ultimate goal as artists is to unify our internal world with the world created in our art such that it adds meaning to (amplifies) the world of the viewer. Guernica certainly achieves that for me.
As I watched this year’s Olympic athletes perform I became aware that only a few were able to unite us, the viewers, with their art, to make our hearts soar with the daring, grace, and beauty of their performance.
Every athlete in Beijing dedicated years of practice, failure, and commitment to perfecting the same series of movements within the same constraints and from them creating a master performance.
As a teacher and coach, I am curious to understand what it takes to lift a performance into the realm of art.
I believe we begin by integrating our authentic self with our art form so that our art becomes an expression of our inner world, our way of being.
Brene Brown says “authenticity is the daily practice of letting go of who we think we’re supposed to be and embracing who we really are.”
Becoming truly unified with our authentic self means sacrificing cherished thoughts, relationships, and things we have held onto long past the time they stopped serving us.
The journey isn’t becoming someone new, it is more about releasing and unbecoming everything that isn’t true so we can come into union with who we were meant to be in the first place.
In this time of pandemic, I have had more time alone to hear my own inner voice bouncing off the four walls of my home. This has been an incredible time of introspection, self-care, and transformation for me. I am grateful for the time to practice listening, being quiet enough to get into a place where I can’t hear the “shoulds” of the outside world and my people-pleasing persona. This year I am dedicating myself to listening to and learning to recognize the voice of my inner guidance system and acting only when I have a “whole-body” yes or no.
I am as frightened as you are to show my real/true self to the world, to create art that is unique to me alone. I've spent years perfecting and experimenting with technique and now it's time to stop hiding behind it. I hope you will join me in this journey and hold me accountable if you don't see "me" in my art.
Brene Brown declares that this is the only way we can actually belong: “true belonging [Unity] is not passive…it's a practice that requires us to be vulnerable, get uncomfortable and learn how to be present with people without sacrificing who we really are.”
Unity with self is the journey of a lifetime. The practice of discerning your own voice, your true power from the noise that surrounds you is long and slow. The world shifts and what was authentic 10 years ago no longer fits - beginning the work of self-discovery anew.
But when all your parts and pieces belong and integrate together your inside world aligns with your outside world and you attract your own truth. The things you need, the people, the lessons, the abundance, and even the teachers appear before you.
Artists are fortunate to have a practice that mirrors our inner world. With each new artwork, we have the opportunity to unify self and message.
In every piece, we create there is an intention to share something in particular, some aspect that inspires us and engages us in persisting throughout the creative process. By holding true to the singular idea we selected it is possible to recognize what draws energy away from it, to recognize which parts are clear and which are amplifying, supporting, accepting, contributing to. and agreeing with our original intention.
This makes it easier to release (paint over!) the beautiful players who do not belong and are not serving the greater whole. It even makes it easier to repaint the entire piece or generate a series, in order to clearly manifest our vision for the work.
If our intention for each artwork is to share our authentic self then there is no comparing yourself to any other artist. Other artists may have spent years honing their craft and are much further down the path - a path that ultimately bears little resemblance with our own.
We are on a journey and the skills we value will improve with practice. Our artwork is finished when there is unity - all the parts belong and contribute to the meaning we selected for the greater whole. Our painting is complete when it belongs to itself, when there is a balance between energy and stability, competing and complementing, and when we have fully shared the thing that inspires us with the world.
Knowing when it is done is subjective - we feel the voice of the painting in the same way we feel our own authentic voice.
Our ultimate goal as artists is to unify our internal world with the world created in our art such that it adds meaning to (amplifies) the world of the viewer. Since we cannot be responsible for, nor truly understand, how the viewer will interpret us, our work is to contribute our personal truth from the place we stand right now for the benefit of the greater whole. True belonging (unity) doesn’t require you to change who you are, it requires you to be exactly who you are.
We belong to our community and our art when our authentic self is personally accepted, respected, included, and supported by ourselves and those we respect and admire.
If you are feeling lonely or isolated after the long pandemic you are invited and welcomed to join my growing art community. As your teacher, I can walk beside you and support you in the exploration of your authentic/true artistic voice. Start right here where you are. Art that has unity is attainable. You are not alone. You belong. Your art belongs And it gets better. Your art will get better too. Please reach out to me. I welcome the conversation. With Light and Delight,