Naropa University Oakland

Master of Liberal Arts Program in Creation Spirituality


Painting as Creative Meditation 


CSP 744                                                                               


Number of Credit Units: 1


Instructor: Mari Marks Fleming


Instructor's contact telephone number: 510.548.3121


Email address:  [email protected]


Spring 2005 Semester Class Schedule: Wednesdays, Feb 16-May 11, 1:30pm-4pm

Note: Instructors can adjust class time as necessary with students, but are requested to notify MLA co-directors if they do so.


General Weekly Class Schedule for Spring semester, 2005:

Weekly classes begin week of: Feb 15, 2005  Weekly classes end week of:  May 12, 2005

No weekly classes held during: Intensives: March 3-6, April 14-17 & Spring Break:  March 21-25



Course Description: The course is designed to open the creative potential within every student.

Through a weekly practice of painting, participants will develop a personal relationship to materials

and image as a creative meditation. The Buddhist concept, Esho Funi,  oneness of self and

environment, provides a philosophy for a practice of responsive painting. Participants will develop

technical skills in the art of painting and a personal practice of meditation, ritual and reflection

essential to self-awareness and expression.


Course Objectives:    

-Experiencing the process of painting as a mirror of the self, discovering awareness

of a personal “sense of rightness.”


-Personal exploration of materials, color, harmony, balance and touch. Focus on seeing and

sensing while developing facility with materials.


-Using a personal exploration of the four paths in developing a unified theme and body of work.


-Engaging in dialogue with the image (self), with images of participants (others), and with

images of the world (environment).


-Creating a final exhibition of the paintings created during the course with fellow students.


-Creating an exhibition of the work.


-Developing a practice of creative meditation which can continue past the class.



Course Requirements:  Instructor's criteria, evaluation and grading of students. 


1.       Attendance and class participation  ...........................20%

(One absence for serious reason allowed otherwise student does

  not receive credit)


2.      Completion of all paintings...... ........................... ........40%


3.          Reflection/journaling in response to art work........ ......20%


4.     Final presentation of paintings…………......................20%


Total Requirements .................... .100%



Recommended readings: Handouts, reference list


Outline Calendar of weekly class themes, activities and assignments with dates of courses:


Wed. Feb. 16: Experiencing materials. Through a “learning station” approach, a wide variety of drawing and painting materials will be experienced. Discussion of experience and using the material “right for you today” to explore a persistent visual or personal theme. Note: bring an image or theme you would like to explore.

1st painting.


Wed. Feb 23: Image as idea. Depicting the event (time and place) of the image, the image as symbol, as fantasy, as emotional expression, as spiritual expression. 2nd painting.


Wed. Mar. 2: Image as experience in time and place. Change in perspective, focus, relation to the environment, repeating the image. 3rd painting.


Wed. Mar. 9:  Image as personal history. Smell, sound, texture of image. Image with others or alone. Changing the emotional climate or weather. Intensifying and unifying the emotional content. 4th painting.


Wed. Mar. 16: The desires of the painting, empathic connection. Dialogue with the painting. Truth telling. 5th painting.


Wed. Mar. 30: Painting as integration. Painting the shadow or opposite. Interacting with the shadow. Experiencing the stuck place. Finding a new solution. The 6th painting.


Wed. April 6: Painting and communication. Interactive paintings, joint paintings. Opening to the visual dialogue. The 7th painting.


Wed. April 13: Painting in collaboration with a group. Dialogue with the world, with the environment. The 8th painting.


Wed. April 20: Painting in relation to culture, relation to history, relation to the cycle of time and creation. The 9th painting.


Wed. April 27: Creating a ritual and/or altar to honour and continue your creative meditation. The 10th painting.


Wed. May 4: Painting as a journey. Viewing the body of work, presentation as narrative, theme or exposition. Final painting as the next step or synthesis


Wed. May 11: Class exhibition, presentation of paintings. Ritual of response.


Reference List                                                                                              

Arieti, Silvano (1976), Creativity the Magic Synthesis, Basic Books, Inc, NY

Arrien, Angeles (1993), The four - fold way, Walking the paths of the warrior, teacher, healer, and visionary, HarperSanFranciso

Bayles, David & Orland, Ted, (1993), Art and Fear, Observations on the perils (and rewards) of artmaking, Capra Press, Santa Barbara

Diaz, Adrian (1992), Freeing the creative spirit, drawing on the power of art to tap the magic and wisdom within, HarperSanFrancisco

Ehrenzweig, Anton (1967) The Hidden Order of Art, Univ of California Press, Berkeley

Gablik, Suzi (1997), Conversations before the end of time, dialogues on art, life and spiritual renewal, Thames and Hudson, Inc, NY

Goldstein, Virginia Barclay (1999) The Magic of Mess Painting, The creativity mobilization technique, Trans-hyperborean Institue of Science, Sausalito

Field, Joanna, (1957) On not being able to paint, J.P. Tarcher, Inc, Los Angeles

Hadden, Peggy, (1999) The Artist's Quest for inspiration, Allworth press, NY

Hydem Lewis, (1983) The gift, Imagination and the erotic life of property, Vintge Books, NY

Langer, Susanne (1979) Philosophy in a new key, a study in the symbolism of reason, rite, and art, Harvard Univ. Press, Cambridge

London, Peter, (1989) No more secondhand art, awakening the artist within,  Shambala, Boston

Lipsey, Roger (1989) An art of our own, the spiritual in twentieth century art, Shambala, Boston

McGaa, Ed, eagle man (1990) Mother earth spirituality, native american paths to healing ourselves and our world, HarpersanFrancisco

McNiff, Shaun, (1992) Art as Medicine, Creating a therapy of the imagination, Shambala, Boston


Note: Naropa University-Oakland will provide accommodations for qualified students with disabilities.  To request an accommodation, or to discuss any learning needs you may have, contact the Dean of Students, (510) 835-4827 ext 15.