A spiritual event


Dear Artist,

I’m walking a labyrinth in Sedona, Arizona. I’m repeating the words, “My higher self is guiding me.” As well as thinking of something else, I’m wondering if there’s “something else.”

As Above As Below by Bearcloud

As Above As Below
oil on canvas
by Bearcloud

Sedona is one of those spiritual hot spots where visitors come for all sorts of body work, yoga, self-improvement, or guru-inspired transformation. In the USA, this kind of stuff is a $10 billion-a-year industry. Sedona is also the place where three fine folks allowed themselves to be cooked to death in a spiritual sauna at the end of a labyrinth. This was at the urging of the now bankrupt and criminally implicated guru James Arthur Ray. If only those folks had been aware of the life-centering force and personal power one gets from the harmless little activity known as painting.

Yep, I’m talking about painting as a spiritual event. The act has something to do with making a physical tribute — a sort of a visual prayer — honouring the gifts that surround us and the life we’ve been given.

Before you hit that delete key or drop a note to say I’ve gone wonky again, here are a few observations for those who might be buying my oysters:

Thunder Mountain oil on canvas by Bearcloud

Thunder Mountain
oil on canvas
by Bearcloud

Art establishes and makes tangible a time, a place, a thought, an idea.

Art, properly made, enhances and enriches the lives of others.

Art gives an opportunity to endow new life and new meaning into the ordinary.

Art gives an opportunity to design your own world, and, as in your children, create a significant immortality.

Art is hard-earned work that is its own reward and has a degree of permanence.

Art, because it’s so easy to do, and yet so difficult to do well, encourages humility in the human soul.

Art is an apprenticeship that can be stretched into a lifelong education.

Art thrives on democratic ideals, freedom of expression and rugged individualism.

Art permits you to step out of the labyrinth and into a quiet corner of your own private joy.

Spirits of the Waters Flow Freely oil on canvas by Bearcloud

Spirits of the Waters Flow Freely
oil on canvas
by Bearcloud

Best regards,


PS: “You don’t need to follow someone else’s path.” (Nathan Thornburgh)

Esoterica: A spiritual awakening is often found and developed in a wilderness. It can be a poem or a parable of a deep forest, a mountain meadow or a cactus-studded desert. The outdoor spirit of plein air refreshes and further enables the indoor studio chapel. Each new creative beginning is a confirmation of the simple truth of taking care. And while it may all appear to be self-indulgent and isolating, every thought, every stroke, every caress of the brush adds a small refreshment of meaning and purpose to our universe. “Work is love made visible.” (Kahlil Gibran)

bearcloud-1This letter was originally published as “A spiritual event” on March 11, 2011.

The Letters: Vol. 1 and 2, narrated by Dave Genn, are available for download on Amazon, here. Proceeds of sales contribute to the production of The Painter’s Keys.

“My work comes through Spirit — I am honored it comes through me.” (Bearcloud)