Altars

I practice meditation. It’s soothing and allows me to observe ideas in my mind that I may not have noticed before. I love to draw and paint people in meditation: in yoga postures or in the classical seated, cross-legged pose. Creating this art is, in itself, a meditative process as I draw, paint and contemplate what my hands make. Seeing the images that I love, in the best tradition of religious art, remind me to meditate.

Surprising myself, I recently began to draw small architectural spaces around the meditating figure. It seems as if the sacred dynamism I try to depict extends out into the surrounding area.

K. Kauffman, Buddha I, ink, 24″x18″

Unconscious of this process, I simply delight in the shapes and colors around the figure. Sometimes, the Buddhist services, the ministers and monks wear odd-shaped hats which find their way into my images, as in the one below. I love reflections in windows. One of my life-sized sculptures of a meditating figure in my studio reflects in my louvered windows, creating the more subtle image to the left, reminding me of another stratum of the meditation process. There are layers in meditation, from the busy monkey mind thinking thoughts to a deep lightness where I rest.

K. Kauffman, Buddha II, ink, 24″x18″

The next drawing seems like a happy and odd windmill above the meditator, the energy field becoming much larger than the small person at the bottom.

K. Kauffman, Altar I, ink, 24″x12″

All at once, I feel compelled to name this piece “Altar.” It occurs to me that the colorful designs around the contemplative person could be a sacred space that contains spiritual vitality and provides divine shelter. Meditation, my main spiritual practice, is vital to me, so it makes sense to have a special location with vibrant surroundings. This is an ancient concept in many religions, but new in my art. 

In my meditation practice, when extending compassion to another person or animal, I visualize healing gold light pouring into the crown of his or her head – as taught to me by a monk in the Buddhist tradition. In my imagination, this light fills every cell of the recipient’s body and also fills the auric field around him or her, in essence, also healing the surrounding area and adding a layer of protection. I hadn’t considered it before, but because this is my daily mental practice, it shouldn’t surprise me that vibrating colors and shapes pour out onto the paper around the meditating figure. Yet, I’m overjoyed and amazed to see these new abstractions that appear to me like heavenly vivacities. I make more every day, my idea of having fun.


Altar Meditations
2023 February 8 – May 8
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