When I illustrated ’The Chanukah Tree’ I was in a period in my illustration in which I was very aware of every single brushstroke that I made. It had to feel a certain way. I can remember the feeling that I sought. Now imagine: How many brush strokes were there in the book and in all the illustrations I did through many years? Numerous. right? And I did this every single day.
Here in the room I hung an illustration from thispicture is part of it.
The people of the story and a few unknown characters run excitedly, on their main street at night, to see the stranger and his strange car driving through their Christmas-night village-center.
Before starting with the individual colors of each person and object, I did seven layers of under-painting that covered the whole area of the illustration with brush-strokes, and I paid attention to how every brushstroke related and combined with the other brushstrokes.
This created the darks and lights of the illustration. It was a night scene and I wanted it to have the darkness feeling of the night. I did all these in one day between eight in the morning and something like seven in the evening, almost non stop. Then I walked through the neighborhood to another home there, to bring my daughter home from her friend.
I did not think about it at all but I was in a deep meditative state. A group of four big-bodied youngsters stopped me. One aimed a pistol at my heart and told me to be quiet. Another strangled me from behind, so I wouldn’t be able to move. I was peaceful and had no fear. I looked into the eyes of the guy with the pistol and nothing was going through my head. The pressure on my throat felt uncomfortable. I took the strangling hands away from my throat with not much effort (he did not resist) and started to walk , as if nothing happened, continuing toward the house where my daughter was.
If you are into every brush-stroke in an artwork that you make, if you feel them all, you are meditating, and it has a very good effect on you.
If you feel everything that you do to make sure it feels as you want it to feel, and it is up to you how you want it to feel, you are meditating. It means: You are coming from your true self. It is so close.
I used to be a graphic designer and an illustrator. I became involved with the Chan Meditation Center and studied meditation and Buddhist knowledge with the late Master Sheng-yen from Taiwan. For twelve years I was in a process of deepening my meditation. I had many more experiences and insights and my life changed. After having illustrated more than 40 children’s books and writing two of them, I left this career too and went to New York University to study art therapy.