My work is about process, and I often find myself submerged within the painting, the paint, the brushstrokes, the moment. Starting with the grid, I slowly build up grid layers of paint, almost in a trance putting down horizontal and vertical brushstrokes. As my body of work evolves, I am finding it more satisfying to leave some of the grid intact (rather than blending the entire grid into a diaphanous structure). This is permitting me to add more textures and areas of pure color, and I'm enjoying the more dynamic interface with the act of painting and the end result. I've been thinking a lot lately about how process and contemplation are related.
I lead a contemplative life -- not full of blissful meditative moments but rather a life of hard work, struggle, and effort while maintaining awareness of the present moment. I am reading Thomas Merton's The Inner Experience, a book about the contemplative life, and he writes:
One of the strange laws of the contemplative life is that in it you do not sit down and solve problems: you bear with them until they somehow solve themselves. Or until life itself solves them for you. Usually the solution consists in a discovery that they only existed insofar as they were inseparably connected with your own illusory exterior self. The solution of most such problems comes with the dissolution of this false self.I think process-oriented work is contemplative. Painting is all about problem solving, and process-oriented work is all about letting the problem work out its own solution. It is a challenge to allow the process to find its way through, to consciously keep out of your own way and let the paint and the process come together into a fully realized artwork. But for me, this makes the whole act of painting a spiritual practice as I learn to let go and contemplate the solutions I am given.
(The above quote is taken from The Inner Experience: Notes on Contemplation by Thomas Merton, page 2.)