Friday, January 11, 2019

I'm writing a book

First iteration of the cover for my book

If you follow me on Instagram, then you most likely already know that I'm in the process of writing and self publishing a book. It's something that has been on my mind for a while : a way to continue my train of thoughts along some of the paintings I created recently and to share my findings with those who can also benefit from it. The book is more a series of essays based on 21 paintings from the Strings of Thoughts series. I was inspired to call it Visual Meditations. Below is an excerpt from the introduction in the book. 


What are visual meditations ? 

Have you ever been in a situation at one point in your life where you think you should be happy because you’ve “arrived” but all you can think of is “Is that it? What now?” Do you keep going and pretend to feel fulfilled or do you do something about it? And if you do, what do you do? 

I found myself in this situation on multiple occasions and every time it was during a major crossroad in my life: a time where I had to make a decision to go one way or another. One way was the easy, known and secure path that would most likely lead to boredom and resentment. That way would also require stimulants and distractions to numb that feeling and keep me going. The other way was unknown and scary but with the possibility of a more fulfilling life while addressing that sinking feeling that something was not right. What helped me arrive to those crossroads and able to make the best decision for myself was what I like to call visual meditations. A tool that, time and time again, helps me disconnect from the many distractions of the world and help me connect to the voice within so that I can get the answers I need at the time. 

It’s something that we all have access to but are often too distracted to pay attention to. All the answers you need for all the problems in your life can be found within you. External tools can help you find your way in, but they cannot give you the answers because they don’t have all the knowledge and understanding of who you are and what your experiences have been. They can only inspire and guide you, they can’t give you the answers, only you can do that. So visual meditations are tools to help you find the answers you need, hidden in your subconscious. 

How does it work ? 

My art cart at the market
Our subconscious mind does not understand the language of words. It understands the language of images. That’s why we’re constantly bombarded with images, sending messages to our subconscious and making us act accordingly. A picture is worth a thousand words. If you want to remember something you associate it with a picture. 

For example, I recently took an online quiz about car logos for fun. I have little to no interest in cars, but I was shocked when the results showed that I could accurately match the name of the brand to the logo about 95% of the time. The other 5% were from brands that are not commonly seen in North America. How is that possible, when I have no interest in cars? Living in the city, I see cars all the time, and I also see car commercials even if I don’t consciously watch them. They are in ads on the screen, in posters in the subway, on someone’s shirt passing by, etc. I don’t need to pay attention to them for them to be registered in my mind. But when it’s time to look into the images, my brain will automatically bring out the information that has been stored in my subconscious. Looking the image and asking a question will bring out the answers from within. 

Visual meditations use the same principle. The only difference is that they will help you bring information that is important to you as opposed to try to convince you to buy something. In these abstract images, your subconscious will recognize something. The same way the check mark logo from Nike will prompt the thought "Just do it" in your mind and probably a lot of images related to that, what your subconscious brings out of these abstract paintings will bring out thoughts related to your life and state of mind. When you start writing them down, you’ll basically start pulling at a thread of thoughts hidden within your mind and start analyzing and observing them to find your answers. 

A lot of the time, commercial visual cues are dis-empowering and prompt you to keep buying things as a remedy for the symptoms created by these dis-empowering visuals, and it makes you dependent on them. Unlike visual commercials, visual artworks are meant to empower you instead. They are abstract enough to enable you to see your own images and stories within them. Our minds are that powerful! They help you pull out what’s hidden in your subconscious from the background to the forefront and coach you into discovering if they are thoughts that are yours or that were fed to you so often that you started to confuse them for being yours. Also, it gives you the opportunity to decided if there are thoughts you want to keep of if they are thoughts you want to discard and replace with new and better ones, that are more empowering to you and serve you better and also make you overall happier in life. 

We live in a world that is very fast paced and distracting. If you don’t pay attention and take time to take a step back and decide what you want, you’re helping other people achieve their dreams and you never really have time for yourself to be yourself and find meaning in your life. Unless a major event interrupts their lives, many people live in a “machine’ that was designed to keep them off their true path and destiny. A life of chasing the proverbial dangling carrot and end up at the end of their life feeling disappointed and regretting not taking more ownership of their lives. 

Visual meditations are a creative way to start helping you detach from that machine, or Matrix and allow you to start tapping into your own self and figuring out what you can do to make sure you make the most out of your life. You get to live a life that is perfectly designed for you as opposed to you trying to fit into a life that is designed to keep you feeding the machine and never really coming into your own true powers. 

How did it started? 

My art cart at the market
I’ve been focusing on painting clouds for the past 2 years and the more I paint them, the more they reveal concepts I wasn’t aware of. At first it started as something fun to do in my art journals. Then it grew into a series of cloud paintings to create a body of work. After painting 100 of them, I entered a new phase of cloud paintings realizing that they could represent more than clouds : they were a visual representation of thoughts. 

One day, I got this idea to paint strings amongst the clouds and this launched the Strings of Thoughts series. It started as a simple project to participate in a local artisans market. I had a couple of wood panels and decided to use them to explore the Strings of Thoughts concept with a limited colour palette. Soon after, I noticed that there was a lot more to it than the imagery, and speaking to some of the people who came to see my booth and purchased some of the paintings, I realized that they triggered different thoughts for different people and things that I didn’t see myself. It’s still fascinating to me that they can represent different things to different people. It made me understand that art is collaborative: The viewer is also part of the creation. Based on their own mind and experiences, they will be able to uncover a different story that has a personal meaning to them. Their subconscious will essentially reveal an image that will bring other thoughts and emotions along with it. 

At the market, there was a lady who was particularly fond of one of my paintings in the shape of a spiral. It reminded her of the conch from her home in the Caribbeans, of her curls of her natural hair, of how prevalent and important this shape was in her life and how significant it was in her understanding and pride of who she was. She pointed out all sort of connections that I hadn’t noticed before and I was fascinated. She purchased the painting and it looked like she had much more to discover about it, more specifically about what it would help bring to the surface from within. What I love about this is that it triggered her own stories and memories, and reminders of what’s important to her in her life at that point in time. That’s the power I see behind these visuals, they allow you to meditate in a different way, it’s more like pondering on things that matters the most to you, giving you the space not just to absorb information but to find what’s within you and use that to your highest of goodness. The paintings are not only a representation of my thoughts, they are also a representation of the thoughts of the people who are observing them and connecting with them. 

What's in the book ? 

Sold Paintings not included in the book

In this book you will go through each of the 21 paintings from the Strings of Thoughts Series. For each of the paintings, you’re invited to first take some time to observe the paintings and listen to what your mind is telling you as you watch them and take some notes. Then you can see as an example my thought process observing the same paintings. They may help trigger more thoughts of your own. There are also a couple questions at the end of each section to help you dig deeper into what it all means to you. Take some time to answer them either by writing or drawing what comes to mind during this process. There are no wrong answers. What’s important is that it’s meaningful to you , that it makes sense to you and that it can help you in whatever way you could use the help. Trust yourself as you go through each of the paintings. You can go in order or you can start with the painting that you gravitate towards the most. 

Meditation is about observing your thoughts. Visual meditation is about observing your thoughts with the help of visual cues. I’m inviting you to ponder on each image and think about what you see, how you feel about them, what you think about them, how they move you and why. This is a nice way to go within and also to be present. What you see will reveal interesting thoughts that are relevant to your current life.

1 comment:

  1. First, congratulations on making your own book! As a book lover and artist, it's great to combine the two!
    Second, I would like to know which company you're using to self-publish. I just made one through Amazon Createspace, and I plan to make a second book, but am not sure if this was the best place for my work.
    I used Indesign to create the layout.
    Here's a link to my book on amazon: https://www.amazon.com/If-you-went-safari-Zambia/dp/0692183841/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1548172843&sr=8-1&keywords=bernadette+meier

    Good luck with your book!

    ReplyDelete