For more than forty years, we've been collecting quotes and poetry that support the practice of process art. We're happy to have this space to share some of our favorites with you.
I wanted a perfect ending. Now I’ve learned, the hard way, that some poems don’t rhyme, and some stories don’t have a clear beginning, middle, and end. Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what’s going to happen next. Delicious ambiguity.
Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma—which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of other’s opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.
To let go means to give up coercing, resisting, or struggling, in exchange for something more powerful and wholesome which comes out of allowing things to be as they are without getting caught up in your attraction to or rejection of them, in the intrinsic stickiness of wanting, of liking and disliking.
If we take our direct experience as our most reliable guide, then we develop an orientation to ourselves that is based on listening internally rather than looking outside for answers. Our focus becomes sensing our experience in the moment, seeing where the energy is, and following it wherever it leads. It requires a self-trust that is quite extraordinary, and the courage to enter realms that are strange and new. We don't have the luxury of certainty based on explanation and logic, but we have instead the passion of exploration and the fulfillment of being fully challenged and utilized.
Unknowing, if one can be open and vulnerable, will take us down to the very deeps of knowing, not informing the mind but coursing through the whole body, artery and vein -- provided one can thrust aside what the world calls common sense, that popular lumpen wisdom that prevents the emerging of the numinous.
The blank paper before you holds mystery
longing for form.
Creation awaits the birth coming from you
and yet is beyond you.
Like a child it has its own trials, triumphs
and destiny to fulfill.
Give this painting being a chance!
Nurture it. Delight in its first movements,
Allow it to stumble and find its own way.
A basic understanding of the painting process work is that our inner experience is our connection to the sacred. Our direct experience is the only thing that's real, and therefore it's the access point to our highest potential. All the rest is supposition, interpretation, and assumption. And it's a path that's always before us. It never depends on outside authority, and it doesn't need any particular skill or attribute that's not already within us.
The things we really need come to us only as gifts, and in order to receive them as gifts we have to be open. In order to be open we have to renounce ourselves, in a sense we have to die to our image of ourselves, our autonomy, our fixation upon our self-willed identity. We have to be able to relax the psychic and spiritual cramp which knots us in the painful, vulnerable, helpless "I" that is all we know as ourselves.
The Way It Is
There’s a thread you follow. It goes among
things that change. But it doesn’t change.
People wonder about what you are pursuing.
You have to explain about the thread.
But it is hard for others to see.
While you hold it you can’t get lost.
Tragedies happen; people get hurt
or die; and you suffer and get old.
Nothing you do can stop time’s unfolding.
You don’t ever let go of the thread.
"For life — I am sure of this — is not transforming energy, but transforming person. Energy is the means. Being is not what but whom. It is Presence in whom and before whom we show ourselves. Let us ride our lives like natural beasts, like tempests, like the bounce of a ball or the slightest ambiguous hovering of ash, the drift of scent: let us stick to those currents that can carry us, membering them with our souls. Our world personifies us, we know ourselves by it. Let us then speak to each other in our most intimate concern."
No matter what comes up—aching bones, boredom, falling asleep, or the wildest thoughts an emotions—we develop a loyalty to our experience. . . . We don't run screaming out of the room. Instead, we acknowledge the impulse without labeling it right or wrong. This is no small task. Never underestimate our inclination to bolt when we hurt.
The sense of failure is one that may arise. Can you sit in failure itself? Can you feel the roots of failure without moving away? Do you feel the somatic reality of failure? Can you allow yourself to fall into failure—and into the color that moves you toward that falling? Can you find the shape, form, and gesture that carry you into that most tender core where failure finally ceases to have any meaning at all?
Shall I say it again? In order to arrive there,
To arrive where you are, to get from where you are not,
You must go by a way wherein there is no ecstasy.
In order to arrive at what you do not know
You must go by a way which is the way of ignorance.
In order to possess what you do not possess
You must go by the way of dispossession.
In order to arrive at where you are not
You must go through the way in which you are not.
And what you do not know is the only thing you know
And what you own is what you do not own
And where you are is where you are not.