Monday, February 16, 2009

The Beat of the Universe

Ah, Joseph Campbell quotes...

My favorite in this bunch:

"The goal of life is to make your heartbeat match the beat of the universe."

I think this way about the act of painting, that if I can synchronize myself with the universe it will all work out, I'll get a moment of bliss. Just maybe, if I can match my thought, my deed and my action, then I will be able to understand something more...something important. It's the only time I feel as if I even have a chance at grasping the universe's secrets. From my thesis paper:

"When I am truly in tune with the universe and when my brain is actively in tune with my hands, that is when I feel I will understand everything."

And speaking of the universe and her secrets....I think I may have cracked the code on the constant circles. I enjoy the shape, I do. But sometimes I wonder the root of it all, and although I have said before that a circle is the shape that makes the most sense in the universe to me, I still wondered why.

I was looking through my paintings, and one of my absolute favorites is something I did in figure painting class. For four weeks I stared directly and frontally at a very pregnant model. During the first week it was a type of torture for me, looking at something I couldn't have. As an artist, I had to even look beyond that, to find the beauty in it too. For four weeks, six hours at a pop, I painted this woman's belly. It was fascinating to me though, the roundness of it. I didn't even think about wanting a different angle of her either. Once I made peace with my own issues, I found a supreme tranquility in painting her pregnant belly at the end of every week. It was relaxing, but it was also something more undefinable.

In the meantime, I have connected it all; the universe, the woman, the circle. It's all right here again, in my thesis paper:

"I think that in the female lies the true mystery of the universe. I believe whole-heartedly that she is the key to the source. 'It's the female as the giver of forms. She is the one who gave life to the forms and she knows where they came from. It is from that which is beyond male and female. It is from that which is beyond being and nonbeing. It both is and is not. It neither is nor is not. It is beyond all categories of thought and the mind.' (Campbell)"

She's the key to the source of the circle:

I ran into Myra, the model of this piece, about two days ago while I was painting kid's faces at a Valentine's day festival. It was so random, so very coincidental, if not more. She had her baby with her...I recalled that when I painted her, she seemed much more powerful and elemental. I can only conclude that at the time she was with child, I was feeling the beat of the universe; the giver of forms. And it was bliss.


yolanda said...

shana, i haven't been commenting, but i have been LOVING your posts lately! you're sharing some new todbit everyday. thank you for those campbell quotes - beautiful...

this is a random book suggestion, but have you ever heard of a guy called theun mares? he basically states the exact opposite of what joseph campbell says about woman being the source of teh universe! some of his stuff is pretty hard to take, but i endeavour to read stuff that doesn't just reflect my own opinions. i think you may get something out of it.

yolanda x

yolanda said...

beautiful drawing btw.. as always! :)

Vag said...

"find your bliss"

...good for you dude.

shana said...

i will definitely look into it the book yolanda, thanks.

and vag...word.

Lisa said...

As someone who's been studying the intrinsic energy and power of women's bellies--and the sacred geometry of the circle--for many years, I love your words and image!

As an artist and dancer, you might be interested in both the text and movement practice presented in The Woman's Belly Book: Finding Your True Center for More Energy, Confidence, and Pleasure (New World Library 2006).

Excerpts are at

You might also want to check out the belly-honoring images and text, "The Goddess in Our Midst," at

Bright blessings,

shana said...

thank you so much lisa, i will be sure to check those out. i really did enjoy her belly.