How I Finally Found My Answer
"Dharana" by F H Varley (1932)
“So what’s it mean?” That’s a familiar question I’m often asked about my abstract paintings. Finding the right words hasn’t always been easy. Until now.
When I’m in my studio, music always helps me focus. I concentrate until I lose myself in the canvas before me. I study the shapes and colours and trust that my experience will help me translate what I feel. Where does the painting want to go? What does it want to say?
Many years ago when I first discovered the artists in the famous Canadian "Group of Seven", I was immediately drawn to the work of Frederick Horsman Varley. His use of colour, his wonderful portrait and figure work held me spellbound. And I wanted to read all I could about the man and his art.
That’s the first time I saw one of my favourite Varley paintings, the masterful “Dharana.” (above) Varley had an intense interest in spirituality and in his words, dharana is “… a Hindu term,” he explained. “It describes a state of meditation in which the mind looks into the soul.” Meditation. Yes! Now I had a word to describe what I did in my studio.
The next time I heard the word dharana was several years ago when I decided to study yoga. My teacher, Gail Fulop, explained dharana as one of the eight steps of classical yoga, the ability to hold the mind on one object for a specified time.
What’s the meaning behind my abstract art? I paint what I feel and that feeling comes from very personal meditation. Thanks to Mr. Varley and to Gail Fulop and her wonderful SpoonStudio, home of (believe it or not) … “Inspire Yoga”.
Try it! Meditation works when viewing abstract paintings as well. Relax, take time to study each of my paintings and appreciate your own personal interpretation.
8/17/2012 12:32:19 pm
I think you have probably read Ross King's great book about the Group of Seven - Defiant Spirits. This book really resonated with me and cemented my interest and love for these painters. In my case Lawren Harris is the one I most relate to but I do like the work of the others very much as well.
8/17/2012 03:00:37 pm
Thanks Wayne, really appreciate your comments, especially the idea that abstract artists are searching for problems. Yes, that works for me. Lawren Harris was another favourite of mine actually. Harris turned to abstract later in his career. Thanks again for your encouragement.
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Anna Horsnell SCA
Canadian painter of contemporary abstract art