Creative remembrance

We people are generally unable of great visualising abilities. None of us has a perfect photographic memory of faces and intricate details of human figure. Even the competent artists need time to develop details out of their memory, through layered sketching.

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Without any help of pictures and paintings, our best conscious effort to visualise a face is its semi-abstract form, with several key points: basic shape of the head, position of eyes, nose, hair, lips. We generally tend to “tag” a certain face with an emotion, like “funny guy”, or “sad eyes”, etc. that help us pull out from remembrance all additional details associated with that tag.

Sometimes it takes few venues to remember someone’s eyes colour.

Having this is mind, it actually doesn’t matter which image of Radha and Krishna we have in front of us, because in our minds they’ll transform into semi-abstract imagery as soon as we turn our heads away from the image.

The idea with devotional meditation and remembrance is similar to that one practised by great artists – not to keep one image in mind and endlessly remind ourself about it, but rather to dwell into it, explore, build up positive thoughts about it and pull it out from the fragmented memory into our conscious mind. Layer by layer, patiently, with even more intricate details which are not only visual, but emotional.

At moments that image comes alive and moves, causing a sensation that resembles flame of delight going up. We should try to follow the image, whilst keeping our attention to the process.

Reminding ourselves of Radhika in every female face, figure and smile is certainly a highly effective meditation and arresting approach. Many wondered divine Raphael (as the famous painter was called during his time and ever after) was blessed by Madonna and was able to see her everywhere solely because his Madonnas were so breathtakingly beautiful and ethereal.

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In our everyday life we should try to be positively creative too, and channel our thoughts into creation. Creativity is inspiring and life-changing. Wonderful examples are artists, who have created magnificent art through history. The power of their visualisation was absolutely incredible and is still enchanting us. Here’s what Jacopo Tintoretto, late Renaissance and Mannerist Italian artist per excellence, wrote:

Beautiful colours can be bought in the shops on the Riato, but good drawing can only be bought from the casket of the artist’s talent with patient study and nights without sleep.” He reminds us what are the fundamentals of a good composition – creativity, passion and good drawing skills. Why drawing skills are so important? In figure and realistic painting, applying colour usually comes at end, and colour only emphasises and completes good initial design, not overpowering it or losing itself in a seemingly dazzling, but formless and pointless colour mess.

Translated into our inner meditative and devotional life that means we should first learn how we express our thoughts and feelings, shape them and learn about them and ourselves, put core values and hopes of our lives where they create a nice devotional sketch … and then add colour.

Tintoretto further adds, “Drawing is the foundation of a painter’s work, but drawing from life in the nude should only be essayed by well-practiced men, as the real is often wanting in beauty.” Here he points that the beauty is experienced in the heart of a true artist, and such an inner vision surpasses beauty of anything found in this world. Good artists often idealise everyday beauty because they use real-life models just as symbols to express feelings of an overpowering spiritual and aesthetic rapture that is beyond comprehension. 

We should try to develop similar passion for everything we want to achieve in our spiritual lives. Tintoretto had his inspiration as well, in Michelangelo and Tizian. We should also have our devotional inspiration, or a role model too. It helps enormously and isn’t it amazing to see how art and natural devotion are so much alike?

– Zvonimir Tosic


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