Artists, Art Studios, & Creating Balance in Life

Do you feel your life is balanced? Do you yearn for more balance? When I was 19 and a senior in college at Emory University, I was taking overloads to graduate early. One summer day I passed by the student union building and saw a poster for an introductory talk on meditation. I reflected how there were always interesting things going on that I didn’t have time for, since I was carrying such heavy courseloads. I thought about the need for balance, and how there was not balance in my life.

Refuge Reliquary. Sherri Silverman. Paper collage, wasp nest, and plastic container.

Refuge Reliquary. Sherri Silverman. Paper collage, wasp nest, and plastic container.

Fast forward fifty years. (OMG, it’s been that long?) Today I had a conversation with another artist who feels challenged about this balance issue and never seems to have adequate real studio time. Do you spend hours in your studio every day? Many of my artist friends are agitated about having enough daily studio time due to having to work a job to support themselves, do caretaking for a sick husband, or just take care of the time-eating demands of 21st century life. There is also the issue of posting on social media, applying for artist residencies, and looking for representation. So many time-consuming things eat away at actual art-making.

Often feel people like they are running from iceflow to iceflow, jumping across expanses of water, running almost vertically up a slope to jump to another spot, and so forth, a la Little Eva in Uncle Tom’s Cabin. (Very stressful. Thank goodness I have my meditation practices. I don’t know how people manage without that tool.)

dreamzcatering.comMeditation forms the ground for my work. I couldn't have been an artist without its allowing me to be connected. It's the wellspring. I don’t know how people manage to get balanced in life — or create — without it. It’s the key to balance.

“Deep silence is the mother of creativity. 

No creativity can come out of one who is too busy, worried, over-ambitious or lethargic. “  

dreamzcatering.comSri Sri Ravi Shankar

If you need to spend more time working on a deadline or taking care of your health or someone' else’s health, see it as a natural part of life rather than an obstacle. Just knowing and reminding yourself that there are ebbs and flows in life takes away some of that pressure. Nature has rhythms and cycles. You can bring back your studio time again. Until it becomes regular again, even sitting in your studio, cleaning off a painting table, reading through your art journals or inspirational clippings counts as creative incubation time. One friend has managed to get studio time back into her schedule by spending ten minutes a day making art. Even that little bit of time chiseled out of her work schedule brings her greater peace of mind and a feeling of connecting to her creative process.

dreamzcatering.comAnd regular meditation practice enhances your connection with the source of creativity so that you will be “further along” in your development artistically, or at least more able to just pick up your art materials and begin again.

Parallel Paths: Connecting With the Source

dreamzcatering.comFabienne Verdier painting

I’m continually inspired by Fabienne Verdier’s art; there’s a large section of her work on my on Pinterest. She studied for ten years with an old master in China and creates marvelous calligraphic large paintings with huge brushes. Like me, she wants her work to energize, uplift, and give people a glimpse of the unboundedness that is hidden inside us:

“I read a lot of Chinese poetry and philosophy, and about how the human being and the universe is one. I love that idea. So I learned that there is another form of expression. It’s not about expressing our neuroses in art. I think that in art we should offer the public a new melody. I really want to offer the public a sort of great inner experience and to help them re-energise.”

My own process is meditation-based. I’ve been meditating for over 45 years and making art for forty, so my work get infused with it. Consciousness, inner silence, is the source of my art that allows it to flow. Fabienne Verdier says:

“It’s a long, long meditation. The resulting abstract painting is spontaneous, but this spontaneity is not just gestural. It’s issued from another process. And this process comes from Chinese thought.”

creativity taoism chinese philosophy art poetry

One of my favorite books of all time was given to me by another artist in the late 1970s, by Chung-yuan Chang. It expresses through Chinese thought what I had been experiencing in meditation and in my own art. I highly recommend reading this beautiful, inspirational book.

dreamzcatering.comSherri Silverman

dreamzcatering.comExcerpts from interview with Fabienne Verdier by Jesse, “Fabienne Verdier’s Geography of the Spirit,” . January 31, 2013. For more of her art, see and my .