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The Chaos Within – Art as Meditation with Brett Mason

If the moon can create such an effect on the world, on the tides and people’s emotions from I don’t even know how many miles away – if the moon can have that kind of effect, what can we do as humanity to have an effect on other people and project positivity without having to force it?

Brett Mason

Note: The Chaos Within Podcast is trying to become more Accessible! Scroll to the end of this page to find the audio transcript.

Brett Mason joins Joey on the podcast to talk about art as a meditative practice, how to not accept pressure to do too much during this time of social distancing, and why taking a moment to breathe can bring you a fresh perspective.

Brett Mason is a Beverly-MA based interdisciplinary artist, woodworker, and painter whose work examines the relationship between the conscious and unconscious mind through the interplay of patterns, shapes, and sacred geometry. 

Brett’s current pieces merge nebulous, organic movements with geometric shapes as a means of spiritual exploration. This practice has always been important to Brett but has become especially significant considering the current global environment.

Brett Mason's the Garden of Earthly Delights depicts a multicolored sun mandala rising over a painted abstract topography

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Hosted by Joey Phoenix, The Chaos Within is a podcast celebrating the weird, the wild, and the creative – featuring makers, doers, artists, and oddballs exploring the unknown and tapping into their creative energy.

The Chaos Within is produced by Creative Collective and is available on Apple Podcasts and Spotify.

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More a more amidst the fear and stress I see acceptance for what is happening lately. A matter that is seemingly ongoing and to an end that is undetermined. And perhaps leaving some feeling powerless… Or is it that there’s a need to to uncover a deep sense of ones own ability to reclaim personal strength, or power to connect with the universe. The truth is that we all have that ability to obtain such strength and connection within us if we take time to observe ones life. To experience the essence of enlightenment, the feeling finally awaking from a dream, to evolve into sense of alignment like the stars and planets in orbit. Or better yet, falling out of orbit from what called “the norm” to explore for ones own constellation. To till over an old empire to make room for new cultivation, a new form of existence. A bad start of a season with disease has revealed a call to action to find new methods for sustainability, and from that seeds of hope emerge from within ourselves. Let us tend to our germination period so we can grow this new garden together. Let us plant our personal knowledge, learn from each other, and appreciate the fruits of our labor. But these possibilities do not grow on their own, one must be accountable for such progress. How do you plan on tending the crops we share? If soil lacks nutrition do you point to the one who turned the soil last? If the leaves on new growth have dried up from the sun do you point to the one who watered the soil last? Surely these people are working to the best of their ability and have at times exhausted all that there is to offer. Now, at that point do you wait, contemplate, and expect the garden to figure itself out? Or do you ask yourself, “what power do I have to make change?” We all have a place in life and some have yet to manifest such abilities. However, it is important to remind ourselves that we are all accountable for our own actions. Therefore, it is important to consider how such actions can impact the worlds we create. After all, every one of us have their own perception of reality; what we all experience on a personal level is a reflection of the worlds around each other. On the subject of

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The Logo was designed by Anton Presents, the intro music is by Paul Senn ( using the Theta-U Creative Circuit System, and the outro music by Chris Wilson Sound using one of Joey’s maternal Grandmother’s haunted music boxes.

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Audio Transcript

Joey Phoenix 0:05
The Chaos within is a podcast celebrating the weird, wild, and the creative, featuring makers, doers, artists, and oddballs exploring the unknown and tapping into the creative energy. The Intro Music is by Paul Senn and the outro music is by Chris Wilson Sound. In the beginning, there was chaos. I’m your host Joey Phoenix.

Joey Phoenix 0:29
Brett Mason is a Beverly Massachusetts based interdisciplinary artist, woodworker, and painter whose work examines the relationship between the conscious and unconscious mind through the interplay of patterns, shapes and sacred geometry.

Brett’s current pieces merge nebulous, organic movements with geometric shapes as a means of spiritual exploration. Today, he joins me on the podcast to talk about art as a meditative practice, how to not accept pressure to do too much during this time of social distancing, and why taking a moment to breathe can bring you fresh perspective. Welcome Brett, How are you?

Brett Mason 1:01
I’m good. Thank you. How about you?

Joey Phoenix 1:03
I’m doing quite well. It is a beautiful day today.

Brett Mason 1:06
It is an absolutely gorgeous day.

Joey Phoenix 1:10
How is art an important part of your daily meditation practice? And how has it helped sustain you through what we’re all experiencing collectively?

Brett Mason 1:19
I guess in one sense, art has always been a way for me to step back and just be myself. It’s a good way for me to step away from the world around me and just be in my own state of being and, and sort of reflect on myself without actually being too caught up on the, you know, norms of “Am I going to be able to pay my bills?” or “What this person said to me that kind of offended me or bother me,”you know, it’s so like meditation itself.

You quiet your mind you separate yourself. In a lot of ways, my artistic process is when I’m in my real Zen mode will say, it’s almost like I’m in this unique balance between the conscious and the subconscious. Meaning I, I get into a zone where I’m just working away without actually, particularly focusing on the work itself. Everything just gets to a point where it all happens naturally. And I’m just allowing my hands to just work through everything.

Brett Mason 2:36
Not really, you know, not really getting too caught up or having second guessing of myself and thinking, “Oh, is this the color I want?” Or “Is this what I really want it to do with my format and things like that?”

You know, I think that in itself can be dangerous because the creatively speaking because then you just get trapped on these ideas. And then next minute, you’ve spent a half hour just like trying to negotiate with whether or not you should have made that move. And you know what I mean?

I guess coming back to why it’s an important part of my daily practices, it allows me to have balance or find balance within myself and just going into my studio. It’s work it really is work because, like with meditation, you know, you have to learn to focus on one thing or focus on just being present or just the emptiness you know, in some way.

My art is about having that concentration of just letting the art just happen and let there be a focus in itself. And you know, it’s usually uncomfortable at first and it takes a little time to get yourself adjusted to it getting comfortable with, you know, all right. This is how I Have my movement in my space and being able to paint you know, this is the kind of color formula I like to work with here today.

You know, when you start to hone in on the process, then you can say, Okay, I feel comfortable, I feel balanced. I’m making movements and I’m making progress in the work now I can just settle myself and let things flow naturally. And once I get into that state, it’s, you know, I’m just letting the work kind of inform itself and having a conversation with the art piece. What am I presenting to the artwork? And what is the artwork reflecting back to me on like, the things I want to say to it or what I want it to speak to me that if that informs anything to you at all…

Joey Phoenix 4:54
It definitely does… it seems like a beautiful reflective process. I remember a couple years ago at a show at Gentile brewing, the returned to the garden of rhythms show. And there is a piece, the sun piece which has become kind of symbolic of your work, and I stood there in front of this piece for about 10 minutes. And it felt like hopeful and I don’t meditate because I have difficulty focusing but staring into this work allowed me to center and I was really grateful for that.

And that was the first time that I actually interacted with your work was very memorable for me. And since then you have started a new series I believe called healing vessels, which I think is similar feel to it, but you’re being more intentional about why balance and taking a breath is so important. Can you talk about the inspiration behind the series a little bit.

Brett Mason 5:48
It is more of a series of work that is meant to be able to view and in sort of meditate over in its simplest form, it’s a healing vessel. It’s a place where you’re allowed this sensibility and space for yourself to just kind of look at it and my work I don’t expect people to, or viewers specific, I don’t expect viewers to, you know, have a certain intention or a certain concept to bear in mind when they look at my work. And that may sound like a cop out, like not feel like I had to have like a concept or attention to my work.

But in reality, you know, you really can’t direct people on what you want them to see in your work. But that’s beautiful to me because it shows that everyone has their own intuitive side and the creative side with how they experience the work because then it becomes their experience, and that’s what matters to me. So with healing vessels, I do have an intention. mind to have it be a sort of a meditative experience when you view them. But at the same time, it could inform the viewer in a different way it is in part, one of my goals that I’ve kind of come to realization in these past few months is I do believe that I have a role in life to, you know, in some way help people give my perspectives and my values and turn to, you know, let people think, for themselves in a way that’s enlightening.

Joey Phoenix 7:32
So art is definitely a two way conversation where the one part is the artist, creating something that’s important to them. And you were taking that and making it they’re like, into their own self, I suppose. Like, what do you view something? It becomes part of you.

Brett Mason 7:54
So one of the things I like to tell people about, you know, just why I’m so fast With the mysteries of the universe, and how I feel it does affect us with everything that occurs around us. And just like being attuned to like the interconnectedness of all of us in the world.

One instance – this was probably, maybe say five years ago, it was like a super moon. I don’t know what it was, I can’t recall. I’m sure there’s documentation of it. But this was a moon. This was supposed to be so big like that. You could see from the sky that like it’s it just hasn’t been that close to the earth in many, many years. And that fascinated me. And so I remember walking down to Dane Beach Park, and everyone else was down there and experiencing this moment. So I noticed the tide was really, really low and how and so I walked as close to the water as I could get with There’s pretty far out there.

And I’m just kind of gazing at the moon and, and taking in the experience and just you know, and as the moon was rising up and receding, the tide started to come in slowly. And I was kind of following along with the water as the tide was slowly coming back and watching this moon, I mean very slowly but start to recede away and go higher up into the sky. And as this was happening, the tide was coming in. And that was very powerful experience for me personally because what that informed me is this if the moon can create such an effect on the world, and the tides and people’s, you know, emotions from I don’t even know how many miles away if the moon can have that kind of effect, what can we do as you know, humanity to, you know, have an effect on other people and project positivity without having to force it or enforce it. It just kind of created a bigger picture for me.

Joey Phoenix 10:21
What a lovely thing to experience and I definitely can picture what that must have felt like. I think one of the things I’m most curious about in process is have there ever been any times in your life where you have been afraid or hesitant to create art?

Brett Mason 10:39
Oh, absolutely. I guess a lot of what the fear comes from, oddly enough, is getting too caught up on what everyone else thinks of my work. And that’s a pretty standard dilemma for most artists. I’m sure a lot of people can relate to this. And not even just an art and any other creative form or just any business standpoint even.

I think that that can really be stunting for progress, when you start thinking about, well, what do the people want to see? Because then you’re contriving yourself on what you think should be done according to the general audience, and then you kind of start losing yourself and you lose your process and then you lose inspiration overall, because now you’re it becomes a work that is almost unfulfilled because the truth of the matter is, no one really knows what they want from you as an artist. They just want to be able to experience for what you have to offer in general.

And also, another thing that has occurred to me before is just not feeling inspired. And that’s always hard for me when I have a moment where I realized I haven’t painted in a while and usually that will follow up With realizing I’m starting to feel depressed or just like unfulfilled or unmotivated, like just moody saying myself, like, why is why am I constantly feeling in the state? And then you know, then it will occur to me that Oh yeah, cuz I haven’t painted in a while and that’s what’s fulfilling and meaningful to me is just being able to do the work and itself.

And and, you know, that’s always hard. When you’re constantly going and you’re trying to get out there and show your work and you’re continuously networking on top of just doing the day job or what you got to do to pay the bills. It’s it can be debilitating. It can be you know, exhausting after a while to a point where you just don’t have any creative energy and, and that’s, that’s always a hard balance to make because you have to kind of just figure it out as you go and and I guess in one way, what’s really Important about the current state that we’re in today.

And these past this past month is, you know, knowing that you have the time for yourself and you have the space to be able to, you know, reflect on your own purpose in life and what’s important for you not just as far as what you want out of a career or what you want to, you know, make more money or whatever it is. I mean, I think it’s really just about feeling just more in tune with what’s truly meaningful to oneself. And if that means just knowing you have more time to paint, then go do it and you know, no one’s holding you back. Or if just, you know, reading a book, oh, I haven’t read a book in a while and and just go do it. We kind of live in a culture where we are always going and going. And it’s if you’re not doing something that presents itself as hard work, then you’re not really working, you know, sometimes learning to have space for yourself, and learning to rest, and learning to just have a moment to sit quietly with yourself.

And I know that’s hard for a lot of people. How often do we actually sit down by ourselves in a quiet space, whether it’s in your home or out walking in the woods and just, you know, letting thoughts kind of wander and go and you know, start to think about what’s important for yourself?

Joey Phoenix 14:39
Well, thank you so much for this reminder to take a breath that we’re not always producers, we’re humans, we can take the time to sit back and learn and consume and not constantly make that pressure isn’t real. So I appreciate you being here to share your story.

Brett Mason 15:01
Thank you for talking to me and I appreciate you reaching out as well.

Joey Phoenix 15:11
The Chaos Within is produced by Creative Collective. Creative Collective connects creativity, community and commerce across the North Shore. As a collective of creative professionals, small businesses, organizations, and individuals, coordinate a series of events, traditional and non-traditional marketing initiatives, resources and best practices to define why creativity matters in all aspects of life.

In the beginning, there was chaos. Then you make it yours.

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