Spiritual Arts : Right Brain “Logic”

Creativity enables us to hear the language of the Spirit. But the Holy Spirit doesn’t speak to us through logic… so it needs to bypass our logic. Since logic is processed in the left side of our brains, it is therefor logical (hee hee) that the freedom and ability to create and be creative comes from the right side of our brains. Some right brain functions are:

  • Feelings (intuition)
  • Perspective (as in the ability to see the “big picture”)
  • Imagination (ability to look, reach, and dream beyond the “facts”)
  • Philosophy and religion (the ability to grasp abstract ideas)
  • Belief (not having to “know”)
  • Appreciation (sense of wonder)
  • Spatial perception (depth)
  • Impetuous (the ability to take risks – Someone like Donald Trump would most likely call himself a left-brainer, but his risk taking ability shows that he is more right-brained than one might think!)
  • Faith (a belief that is not based on proof. Faith causes us to respond to something we can’t see).  Therefore, abstract and interpretive arts activate faith. Whatever faith that may be, one thing is clear – Spirituality and abstract arts go together.

The importance of Abstract and Interpretive Arts

I used to be one who had absolutely no interest in abstract artwork. It was always all about realism for me. The more realistic I could paint or draw something, the better I thought it was. Because of this mindset, I also avoided overall looking at or admiring abstract artworks. For the most part I didn’t bother because I felt they were either “to easy” and therefor of little value artistically, or I just didn’t understand them, which scared me, so I just didn’t make any room in my life for such things. However, a few semesters of Art History changed my perspective, and I soon found myself actually pondering some of the more abstract works I’d always ignored. For example, I’d never understood how anyone could find a Picasso beautiful or moving, but I’ve since come to find his work to be nothing short of daring and genius. Obviously, understanding the background of the work and the time during which it was produced really helped fill in some gaps for me. But it was also about opening up my mind to new tastes. This is what many of us who lean toward realism and photo-realism need to learn to do. But how does one make such a leap?

Think of it this way…. the more abstract the concept or form, the more it forces the shift from one way of thinking to the other. Betty Edwards says in her book, Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain, “The complexity of the form forces the shift to the right hemisphere mode.” How wonderfully violent! I think this is an important thing to remember when introducing oneself to abstract art. It may be uncomfortable at first, but it is a necessary discomfort that won’t last very long. Like popping contact lenses in for the first time. You suffer the first few moments as you pry your eyelid open and bravely poke around with your finger until the lens suctions to the surface of your eye; but a few blinks later you feel like a new person, seeing clearly, with eye feeling just as natural as can be.

Speaking of fingers, for our first Spiritual Arts class our assignment was finger painting. The objective was to cover the entire paper with paint, leaving no white. The only other rule was that it had to be totally and completely abstract – that is to say, no crosses, no doves, no angels, no flowers, no open doors, no ladders, no cliche christian symbols.. in fact, no symbols or figures or faces of any kind. Simply shapes and movement and colour. I will tell you right now, this was the most fun I’d had painting in a long time. Everyone’s paintings were absolutely beautiful and I was amazed at the diversity – every student’s painting was completely different from anyone else’s. Analyzing that kind of painting was done using emotions (“I see growth and expansion” or “it feels like necessary chaos”) rather than descriptive nouns (“I see a tree” or “it reminds me of a birds nest”). This kind of painting is an extreme (and extremely effective) way of forcing yourself into a right-brain mindset, while this kind of critiquing helps keep you there and actually helps open you up further into it.

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