Creativity and Chakras

By Gillian Valladares Castellino

For me art has always been about more than just producing an interesting picture. It is about providing a means to understand and interrogate myself, to provide a vehicle for living a deeper more varied and creative life. So, I have decided to conduct a number of experiments to see how expanding one's consciousness (without mind altering substances of course), can impact on the kind of art one produces. Here is the result of the first experiment...

Yoga and meditation have been part of my life for many years, so I suppose it is inevitable that the thought came up "Would paintings done after meditation differ from paintings I would do under 'normal' circumstances?" To investigate I decided to do a series of monochrome paintings after meditating on specific chakras.

For those who do not know, chakras are conceptual constructs used in Yoga theory to refer to energy centres in what is called the 'subtle body'. 'Chakra' is a Sanskrit word meaning wheel. These energy centres are thought to exist along the spinal column and each is a likened to a spinning wheel-like vortex which represents its own dimension.   At a physical level, chakras correspond to nerve ganglia and to glands of the endocrine system. Different chakras are thought to correspond to different levels of consciousness and are made of symbolic patterns of our own mental and physical programming. These symbols remain lodged in our chakras as part of our consciousness and influence the way we feel and act, in turn governing the type of experiences we are likely to have. The purpose of chakra meditation is to 'clean' out blockages and abnormalities in the chakras, basically to act as a starting point for thinking deeply about different aspects of our lives and in doing so, to balance ourselves.

There is a body of information connected to the topic of chakras on the web as well as multiple links on how to do chakra meditation if you wish to try it, so I will desist from posting any links here, but will merely show you what each meditation resulted in for me and hope that it will intrigue you enough to want to try it yourself and use it as starting point for your own art work. The book that I used for these exercises was Wheels of Life by Anodea Judith (1997) Llewellyn Publications. After completing a meditation, I would start an artwork, while still in a post-meditative 'euphoria'.

To avoid unnecessarily complicating the process, I decided that I would use the simplest materials I could think of - a sketch book, one brush and a single colour for each painting. I used gouache paints ('poster' colours) and decided to stick to lines and strokes rather than recognisable realistic images.

The resulting paintings were a bit of a shock. For one, I did not 'think' or 'plan', I just selected the colour I 'needed' to use and let the painting 'happen'. I am sure that there must be some 'symbolic' meaning in what resulted, but my focus was not to interpret, but to 'do' and then note my feelings on completion of the painting.

Chakra one - Earth - Colour red
The first meditation resulted in a neat set of 15 squares, each, 'demanding' to be painted with slightly different patterns though the images overlapped.

Chakra two - Water - Colour orange
After the second meditation I felt compelled to draw a series of overlapping circles and fill them in with different tonal variations of the colour orange.

Chakra three - Fire - Colour yellow
The 'painting' after the third meditation was a complete surprise. It started with a series of dots which morphed into free-form symbols.

Chakra four - Air - colour green
This chakra concerns the heart, so it was no surprise that it turned out to consist of heart shapes.

Chakra five - Ether/Sound - colour blue

Early on in this painting I found myself using multiple shades of blue (as opposed to tonal variations of the same colour) and found some very recognisable 'bird' images flying across the page. I let them...


Chakra six - Light - colour indigo
This was a bit of a 'disappointment' to me, as after a deep and very settling mediation I expected a more dramatic, and varied result, but all that emerged were the same motif a five petalled flower - with pink and brown variations insinuating themselves on the page

Chakra seven - Thought - colour violet

This was an interesting one - I started at the top left of the painting, using the closest approximation I had to 'violet', as I progressed, I felt the overwhelming urge to use other colours, so I did.  The result is what you see - layers of hieroglyphics arranged one on top of the other like sedimentary rocks.

The process of producing the paintings was strangely satisfying and very grounding. If you try this method of painting, I would love to see and hear about your results and what the process did for you.

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