Tuesday, December 2, 2014

The Importance of Creating a Sacred Space

Gathering Light 27   60x60"  Oil on canvas ©2014 Janice Mason Steeves

"To have a sacred place is an absolute necessity for anybody today. You must have a room or a certain hour of the day or so, where you do not know who your friends are, you don't know what you owe anybody or what they owe you. This is a place where you can simply experience and bring forth what you are and what you might be." Joseph Campbell

In an earlier post, I wrote about my own process of lighting a candle as I begin my day in the studio .  And in my workshops, I have a little ritual of beginning.  I start each day with a meditation or a poem. I read poems by Mary Oliver or David Whyte or John O'Donohue among others.

At home, I like to start each day slowly and quietly.  When my children were little, I would wake up before them to have a few quiet moments before the hectic day began.  And in the same way, I like to approach my day of work in the studio in a quiet, thoughtful manner: lighting a candle, meditating sometimes and/or writing in my journal. It's a way of leaving worries for a while outside the door, so that the space becomes a place of freedom and my painting practice, a meditation.

That's not to say that the process always flows smoothly.  I have times where nothing is going right, and I become really frustrated.  When that happens, I make some tea, sit down in my studio chair for a moment and take a break.  To put myself back in that calm space, I close my eyes, take a couple of deep breaths, and let go of what I wanted the painting to be. It is easier to do the longer I have practised it.  I can tell when I am in the space.  And from that place, I begin again.

In the romp of a book called, "Outrageous Openness" by Tosha Silver, there is a quote by the writer, Joyce Carol Oates.  She says, "I never understand when people make a fuss over me as a writer.  I'm just the garden hose that the water sprays through."

To be the garden hose, it's important to give yourself a few moments to set your space for the day, to be clear for a time. No water can flow through a hose that has knots in it.


  1. And it shows in your paintings. Thanks for sharing. My hose has been tied in knots lately...will have to try this. I love the concept!