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Miquel Cazaña bio

The artist’s path: a constantly evolving creative process

I have lived my entire path in the artistic world as an evolution on an inner level, so I cannot describe it in any other way than as an evolutionary process with a series of phases. Although I have always been favoured by strong drawing skills, that doesn’t always condition you favourably in the art world. I think it’s important to transcend what you know how to do and take risks, explore new worlds. I’ve been changing both my sector and my style.

At the beginning my choices in the sector in which I worked were purely out of necessity, because after doing a wide variety of jobs before and after the age of 20, when I finished studying graphic design and illustration I took on quite varied commissions; I designed logos and every three months I designed a magazine for an environmental association, and from time to time I would get a commission for advertising or editorial illustration. Little by little, I stopped working in graphic design and started to focus on illustration, which was what I most wanted to do.

As time went by, I put aside the illustration tasks and started to devote myself to painting, which I probably liked more than illustration, because I felt freer. Although I must say that I have a reverential respect for illustration. And in fact, when I look at other visual artists today, I find it much easier to see quality, rigour and depth in illustration than in painting.

In recent years I’vew done almost 100 exhibitions, including such varied spaces as Fundación Academia de Bellas Artes de Sabadell, Ateneo de Madrid, Casa Elizalde in Barcelona, Monasterio de Santa María la Real de Oseira (Galicia), Eurostars hotel company, Palacio Arizkunenea in Elizondo (Navarra), Espacio Ibercaja Castillo de Montearagón in Huesca. I have also participated in various fairs on the Asian continent, in cities such as Hong Kong and Seoul.

I like to be at the exhibition and talk to the visitors. Or “Au plein air” when I take part in fast painting competitions, among which I have won some prizes. Since 2016 I’ve been living in Navarre and I’ve been making a small niche for myself among the current Navarrese painters, as well as getting to know contemporary Basque watercolourists and painters. Although even before, when I was in Barcelona, I used to go out to fast competitions there and I was able to meet current Catalan landscape painters.

I also saw how these contemporary impressionist painters worked and was amazed at what they were capable of doing in a single day or in a few hours. Current impressionist oil paintings that looked like real Claude Monet paintings at times, and yet one could buy them for only a few hundred euros. There are very good current Spanish realist painters, and in the fast painting competitions you can see it. It is something that has merit because you have to work hard to reach a high level.

But apart from that, I think it is important to have one’s own style. I value even more those painters who have their own language or their own universe, to put it another way. Those who apart from drawing or painting very well, have explored new worlds and have risked what they know to find new ways of expressing themselves that go beyond what they know. Among today’s artists, there are few who go through this process.

What is creativity? How to develop imagination and creativity?

Art and creativity: Types of creativity

Creativity is intelligence having fun, said Einstein. I think if I had to choose just one thing to develop creativity, I would choose the need to cultivate divergent thinking. For me, this means trying to explore two, three, four, nine, fifteen or more alternatives to the first one that comes to mind, which is rarely the best one. In the field of artistic creativity it is like that. Working in the field of illustration, both in advertising and editorial, beyond the first way of representing the scene there was a world of possibilities. That’s why I would develop at least three or four sketches changing the perspective and the approach of all the elements of the illustration.

The same at the beginning when I made logos, I didn’t present just one, at first I presented 3 or 4 proposals to the client, even if I had previously presented a few more. These are just examples that have helped me to develop divergent thinking, creative intelligence. Because as Picasso says, may inspiration visit you at work.

Apart from thinking about the projects and not staying with the first idea that comes to my head, for me it has been crucial to add techniques to be more creative. Techniques that would override my facility for drawing and force me to paint or draw in a different way. So, as an example of a creative process, as a final degree project I made a whole travelogue about immigration in the city of Barcelona, with the particularity that I did all the drawings with my left hand, being right-handed.

The result, although it was more rudimentary than the realistic drawings I used to do, was also much more expressive and had much more strength. I would even go so far as to say that it had a higher artistic value.

Later, I spent some time taking notes without looking at the paper, and only looking at the motif. On my second trip to Morocco I made a hundred drawings trying out this technique. This led me to other languages that I couldn’t control either and in which chance intervened much more and my rational mind much less. On other occasions I paint with my fingers, with earth, with broken brushes. All to achieve more expressive effects, to get out of the usual mental framework and try to explore in terms of greater innovation and creativity, which after all is what makes us grow as artists.

My kryptonite; anxiety attacks that conditioned my life

It wasn’t all going to be so wonderful!

Although in the long run anxiety has had a very revulsive effect on me and has forced me to dig deep to find something more definitive, the truth is that while suffering from this endless overwhelm and panic attacks it is also extremely unpleasant and limiting. Anxiety and worry dynamite our entire creative mind, because they weaken it and keep it occupied with imaginary problems that deeply distress us.

If we want to be creative and live a full life, the only solution is to get out of the mental wheel of thoughts, worries and aspirations. How? By becoming aware of our presence here and now, noticing who we really are. Awakening and knowing ourselves, that is the solution, and some people have been teaching it for thousands of years, it just needs to be taught in schools.

The fact is that since I was a child I have experienced anxiety disorders in silence. I didn’t speak vaguely about them until I was 14 years old to some friends, and until I was 19 years old, to my parents and other people. Until then I had been afraid of being locked up for being crazy and not being understood, but that was a mistake. Now anxiety disorders and panic attacks are something that at least one in three people suffer from, and they have different kinds of treatment and are something you hear about more openly. 25 years ago this was not the case.

This anxiety limited me because it made me live with an enormous fear of getting sick or of believing I was already sick (when I didn’t believe I had a tumour I thought I would die of Ebola, or of a fulminant heart attack), I was exhausted from first thing in the morning from so many negative thoughts. On the other hand, anxiety pushed me to look for a solution and to undertake some project of personal improvement or self-understanding and growth.

How can you know yourself?

Although at first I started to read self-help books and self-improvement books to reduce the anxiety I was experiencing, books like Dwayne Dyer’s Your Erroneous Zones, I combined them with others like Ante la Ansiedad, by Ramiro Calle, a book that I found more practical and of which I have very good memories, and which explained very clearly how anxiety works.

With this book by Ramiro Calle I had my first experiences of Yoga. Although I practised on my own and at home, I already remember a great depth in putting into practice the exercises he proposed. Even so, I noticed that I had a lot to explore within myself and a lot to unravel on a psychological level; I had to continue investigating what I am and unravelling what was not me. So I was delving into terms that sounded very good to me like self-realisation, and authors like Abraham Maslow and transpersonal psychology. What did this mean about self-realisation, self-realised man and consciousness.

Through the historic Alibrí bookshop in Barcelona (located in Balmes Street near Gran Via, and with a large stock of psychology books), to which I often went, one day I finally found what I was really looking for. It was the book SER: Curso de psicología de la autorrealización, by Antonio Blay Fontcuberta.

Leafing through the book standing up, in the bookshop itself, I remember clearly perceiving a breadth and depth unheard of until then in any other guide or author, communicator or person. It was as if a Martian was describing with all possible perspective the main problems of the human species at the psychological level and above all at the spiritual and consciousness level. But at the same time his words oozed with a really pronounced simplicity. I have a specific knowledge of this master because I have been trying to put his teaching into practice for almost twenty years,

The fact is that after I started reading Antonio Blay I was able to focus my life in a very accurate way and see clearly what things I should start working on.

Among the contemporary Spanish mystics, I think he is undoubtedly the most important exponent. For many years I have thought that deep self-knowledge would be a good teaching for schools, because knowing yourself in depth and keeping the essence of what we are is equally or more important than having the knowledge to know how to walk in the world, which is equally essential, but not more than the former.

Art therapy: how to draw a dog 100 times

For me, the main source of growth has been what Blay’s line calls Centramiento, which is a meditation centred on the three main centres that define us as humans (energy, love and intelligence), as well as a whole series of exercises that I have developed over the years. The first of which is to look at what we call “character”, which in other lines is called Ego. This set of ideas about myself and aspirations that I have to reach in order to be somebody in this life. An ideal that even if achieved, will be the predecessor of another that will cause frustration anyway.

It is like a hamster wheel that prevents us from growing inwardly. So these two exercises alone, centring and character observation, are an important basis for self-discovery, for self-awareness. But then there are many others.

Art has been a fundamental pillar in this whole process. Even at the beginning, before carrying out this final degree project, I spent a whole summer travelling around Central America learning to draw everything I saw. There I learnt how to draw in perspective, how to draw dogs, how to draw a horse, how to draw a palm tree, a car, a cow… I even learned how to draw a bee live!

One of the things that helped me the most was always to draw people or animals sleeping. I did it very meticulously, in great detail. And that inspired me a deep peace of mind.

This whole initial process of taking notes from nature like a madman, simply with a blog or notebook and a black pilot, was really satisfying and pacifying for me. It helped me a lot to live reality from the bottom, to make it my own, even as if I was creating it at that very moment when I was drawing it. It developed my creativity a lot, because it greatly expanded my unconscious library of images and drawing resources, as well as the fact that I was experiencing art as an inner therapy.

All this apart from the later exercises I mentioned earlier – drawing with my left hand and so on – which helped me to break my mental patterns. The first thing for me was to learn to draw as well as possible, and then to unlearn everything and explore new languages.

Painting as therapy

Nowadays I don’t make so many drawings in my sketchbooks, although sometimes I go out to paint in nature, or I go to fast painting competitions with the purpose of seeing the things I paint live and not always from the studio. In any case, in every painting I do, I notice that I go a step further towards the purpose of going deeper into what is there, of extracting the essential from everything I see, and therefore I also dig a little deeper into myself.

One of the aims I have for the next few years, apart from delving into abstract art (I am aware of what current abstract painters are doing), is to translate into paintings the transcendence that Antonio Blay transmits in his words, and which little by little those of us who try to live that experience personally are living.

What is the exact definition of consciousness?

For me, mysticism is the experience of deep self-discovery and the development to the maximum of our essential capacities (Energy, Love and Intelligence) is the only reason why we are in this world. I always try to scratch and look deeply into people to discover simple, close people, authentic, simple, profound experiences of mystical and mystical men and women.

That is why every day that I lock myself up (or go out into the open air) to paint a new picture, I do it with the purpose of finding myself at a more advanced point of learning. Am I then a mystical painter? Words are lost in the wind. What I can promise is that I am a person committed to his development, and that the preparation of both these new abstract paintings and this more fanciful series that will speak to us of the depth of the inner path (the latter will be a series full of mystical symbolism, not religious), are a shortcut to experience social consciousness or collective consciousness.