Good karma is a creative tool. By contrast, bad karma can interfere with your work, slow your progress and spoil your fun. Your words and deeds are your honour and your glory. Future power is needlessly given away every day by thoughtless moves and ignorant remarks. It’s sad to realize that most of the world’s evil begins with our mouths. Here are some karmic tips for artists:
Make sure you stand a reasonable chance of following through when you say you are going to do something. A legacy of unfinished or incomplete projects or promises weighs on the soul and derails further productivity.
Giving your own stuff away is the seed of good karma. You have been gifted with this joy; why not share your gift? It’s been my experience that exuberant giving powers invention, creativity, and further unlocks earth’s bounty.
When you are asked to donate your art to a charity, think about the charity before you do. Some are better run, more cost effective and more valuable to society than others. You have the power to influence progress.
Realize that, because of art’s permanence, you will continue to be around for other incarnations. Make sure your works are worthy of this immortality and not just the fashion or expediency of today.
Give every one of your associates their dignity as well as respect for their boundaries and capabilities. It’s the marvel of humankind that we all have something different to offer.
We are our thoughts. Positive thoughts give positive results. Do not be for long with those associates, dealers or other artists who have negative thoughts. They conspire to weaken your own karma and make you miserable like them.
PS: “The wise ones work for the welfare of humanity. The enlightened ones inspire others by performing works efficiently.” (Bhagavad Gita)
Esoterica: The idea behind karma is that every being contains an eternal spirit that is working out its destiny over many lives. I like the concept, but like many other artists I’m into karma in the here and now: “You expand your consciousness, your ideas, your perceptions. You break away from self-adopted restrictions. You grow as you learn to step aside from limiting conceptions and dogmas.” (Seth)
The following are selected correspondence arising from the above and other letters. Thanks for writing.
Open to alternatives
by Pat Runge
One thing I have learned is that it is unproductive to fence yourself off from others’ ideas, even if they don’t always fit in with your own. In order to be original in any facet of life and specifically in the matter of art, it is good to be open-minded to see how others have created their work or ideas. This can only help a person in their efforts in life, without being a slave to new suggestions. Being open to alternatives is exciting.
Name withheld by request
Recently, I had a conversation with two other artists about what it meant to be ‘grateful.’ As people with the blessed talent to paint and create, I agree that the giving and sharing of that talent is of utmost importance. I cringe when I hear that an artist/friend of mine ‘has made it,’ is selling his works like ‘hot cakes’… but has… changed. Not the money part (I have made a modest living from my art). It’s the ugly image of commerce, greed and ego snaking its way into a soul. Changing how that person lives, thinks, acts, and most of all, stops sharing with gratitude. How ‘success’ and money mold the face into a sneer at mankind. I believe in Karma. I believe in a path we must all eventually take. I believe that for every living moment we must be grateful. I believe for every bit of nature we are allowed to witness we should give thanks, and most of all I believe people and love must always, above self, come first.
Karma in school
by Moncy Barbour
Seven of us artists have been asked to display some of our work at a school for two hours and answer questions to 4th-8th grade students. I must remember that these are kids and I can’t cram centuries of art in their heads in two hours. Therefore I will allow my paintings to largely speak for themselves and answer pertaining to a particular work and what it means to me. And then ask what does it mean to the spectator. I believe that anyone can become an artist. If the artist is happy with their work no matter the age or education, then the work is a success. It is our duty to share with the world our joy and sometimes our sorrow.
Karma and the fire of yoga
by Alar Jurma, Montreal, Canada
Ceasing to add more bad actions and to begin to add good actions to our karmic storehouse is the only way to facilitate personal transformation. Dharma, or right action, is the study of the nature of these good or beneficial actions. It’s also the reason why meditation is essential in every human person’s life. Artist or layman, the fire of yoga burns away impurities and begins to uncover one’s true transcendental nature. When that takes place, we automatically perform actions that are beneficial not just for ourselves, but for all beings in the world.
Expand as the heart feels right
by Linda Muttitt
Your most recent writings came at the most appropriate time, which I believe to be following again into the karmic circle. Thanks for the reminder of how my own thoughts project directly into my work. I have been struggling to complete a commissioned work for a very good friend who is retiring. The committee planning her retirement cannot afford much, so part of my struggle has been whether I should expand the painting beyond the fee in order to satisfy what I wish to honour this woman with in her next journey into renewal. I now am clearer and know what I want to do and what brings warmth to my work. Expand as the heart feels right.
by V. Jane Lake
I was recently approached (my first charity donation) to participate in a local fundraiser for Children’s Literacy. One painting was to be donated outright and auctioned off in a live auction with the charity keeping the total proceeds, and then three other pieces would be displayed and offered for sale in a silent auction. Proceeds from the silent auction would be split between the charity and contributing artist. The fundraiser was to be held at a posh country club wine and cheese event. Happily I donated one of my best paintings to the charity. The live auction was VERY exciting and I was ecstatic to say the least when my painting fetched the 2nd highest price of the evening! Unfortunately, the silent auction didn’t fair as well for myself or the other artists, even though most of us reduced our retail prices by 50% or more. I really didn’t mind that my other paintings didn’t sell because plenty had been raised with the sale of the first painting, but apparently the coordinator of the auction did! Not only was I not thanked for my participation, but I was given a “suggestion” that next year I should price my art in the silent auction at $100 or less so it would sell, that my prices were too high and I should spend the next year painting pieces that COULD be sold for $100 or less. I really feel insulted and I’m thinking that “next year” will not be an option for this event! Am I off base by feeling this way? Tell me that this isn’t the norm for charity fundraisers!
(RG note) Some charity fundraisers are run by incredibly stupid people. They are not worthy of our continued largess — even though the charity itself may be worthwhile. In my case I just thank them for offering to take my stuff and give them a cash donation instead. Fundraisers must respect an artist’s price range and make every effort to get near to gallery prices. Poorly run fundraisers undermine art dealers, steal sales by encouraging bottom feeders and wreck an artist’s self-esteem. Forget karma on this one. Kiss off “next year.”
by Don Getz, Ohio, USA
Speaking of sign painting, I spent my daily lunch hour while in high school watching the handiwork of an old sign painter in Salem, Ohio. This guy’s hand shook so much, it made me nervous… until he began the stroke of a letter. Then it was as steady as a breeze, until he finished the stroke. I learned a lot in those observations, and still do as much hand lettering as possible on today’s projects. I create poster art and want the lettering to be totally unique; so you will not see computer type on any of my designs. Yes, it’s very time consuming, but uniqueness has its price.
Blessed as a sign painter
by Cristina Acosta, Bend, Oregon, USA
I was a sign painter for 2 years in 1988 and ‘89. It was the best experience an artist could have. By default (I was living in a small town and the only billboard painter quit) I obtained the lead painter position at a sign company when I got out of art school (with a BFA in Painting). I painted (completely by hand) outdoor advertising billboards. Most of them were from national ad campaigns for beer or autos. Some were local advertisers. I learned to go to work at 6 am and paint non-stop (except for government mandated breaks) until 5:00 p.m. four days per week. I used rollers, airguns and brushes with a variety of oil based toxic sign paints. About the time I left, computer generated work was becoming more available and affordable and I could see that hand work would be a thing of the past. I regret that artists today don’t have the opportunity to paint for an hourly wage. Though you would not necessarily see the influence of that job on my work, it’s everywhere. Thanks for reminding me how blessed I am.
The following are a few more of the 400 or so entries that have come in since the contest was announced. They are not necessarily finalists in the “Free Painting Workshop in Brittany” contest. The contest closes at midnight June 15, 2002.
You may be interested to know that artists from every state in the USA, every province in Canada, and at least 100 countries worldwide have visited these pages since January 1, 2002.