In the past few weeks, I have been ill and often house bound. I’ve spent a bit of time looking through selected art books at those artists who inspire me. My range of appreciation is relatively narrow. At least after the start of the Twentieth Century, it becomes (according to my taste) harder to find art with real soul.
Nevertheless, it gave me the inspiration to try my hand at painting. It is not false modesty to say this is one subject where I have no talent or even what you might call capacity. The only thing I remember from art class, is the ability to draw a straight line without a ruler. I’ve learnt this only takes you so far, if you aspire to be an artist.
Lacking any technical capacity or artistic inspiration, I started off with basic imitation. It would be a fair assessment to say my Mona Lisa looked more like Edvard Munch’s the Scream, than an illuminating creation.
The only thing that gave any real joy to myself was imitating Sri Chinmoy’s soul-bird drawings. By looking at many different soul-birds, I learnt after a fashion what you might call a basic technique of drawing different birds.
It is nothing I would dare show anyone else – never has the phrase ‘pale imitation’ proved more apt. But, it gave a certain personal joy to see scrap paper and old economic notes, filled with these feeble efforts. If nothing else, spending the time to try and recreate these unique artworks, gave me a greater appreciation for the artistic genius behind the spontaneous and effortless creation of these series of artworks, (which numbers more than 13 million.) I often saw Sri Chinmoy draw the birds in quick succession. When signing a book, his signature would often be accompanied by a few soul-birds to give the recipient a very unique and personal momento.
Yet, even when I managed a close imitation of the lines, shape and form of Sri Chinmoy’s originals – it struck me the truth of the observation – that art is much more than technique. It is the soul and life-force of the artist, which is an important – if not more so – than the technical output.
There was an unmistakably different feeling between looking at an original by the artist CKG, and even my best effort of imitation. Usually, humans have a strong tendency to get more joy from their own produce and creations. But, for me, it is a stark illustration of how there is so much more to art than mere form.
I remember, Sri Chinmoy once saying that even if someone else had written exactly the same song (The Invocation), with exactly the same words and music – it wouldn’t have the same effect. When a realised soul creates something, there is more soul-force behind it.
Sometimes I look on the internet for quotes. There can be two very similar quotes in terms of English meaning, but we also look at who said it. Naturally, we get more joy from a quote by someone we know and see as a wise person.