Mindfulness and my artistic process

I have always felt that my work has a strong affinity to resorts and spas, especially ones that place so much focus on your emotional well-being. While I was at Miraval for my artist-in-residence, I discovered that they shared an even deeper connection to how I create my art. Everything at Miraval revolves around the idea of being “mindful”. Every class and activity is designed to help you become fully aware, fully present in the moment. And as I worked on my art each morning, I realized that “mindfulness” is also the foundation for my own artistic process.

An abstract photograph of a mesquite pod, created while at Miraval.

Each work of art I make, whether I am in the desert or my studio at home, starts with me being mindful of the natural world and my relationship to it. I disconnect the analytical side of my brain, and quiet the chatter in my head. I try to calm the brain’s reflexive need to process and categorize, and just allow myself to absorb what my senses perceive, unfiltered. Even when I am out gathering subjects to photograph, I cannot worry about the past or plan for the future: I have to just be aware of the present, and experience my environment as openly and simply as possible. Only then do the ideas and images come to me. In a way, my art has become my own form of meditation or prayer, helping me be more mindful, more present, more centered.

Annother photograph of a mesquite pod created at Miraval.

See more of my Miraval Collection — art inspired by the plants and gardens and plants of the Miraval Arizona Resort.


Dan, you wrote “In a way, my art has become my own form of meditation or prayer, helping me be more mindful, more present, more centered”, I would suggest that what you are doing would not be art if this was not true. Is not art the result of those things more than the other way around?

Paul: honestly, I do not know. Can you create art without being centered, etc. I’m sure that some can. In fact, I venture to say that most of what passes as fine art (especially fine art photography) is more an intellectual exercise then a focused act of creation. But I can’t do that. It feels false if I try. I need that focus, that mindfulness to create.