Lorraine Capparell



Art and Meditation

There are many links between my two practices of making art and meditation. One is that of discipline. I meditate every day. I also produce an artwork every day. Each act is a practice. Practice by definition means repeated action.

Another commonality between art and meditation for me is concentration. Paying attention is of prime importance on the meditation pillow: keeping my mind on my breath, bringing my focus back to the now. And with painting and sculpture, concentration is integral. My mind and body fully attend to the process. Hours can pass in a flash when I paint.

Inspiration means opening to the divine in both art and meditation. Many times, ideas and impulses that arrive spontaneously in meditation feed my art. And Buddhist architecture and art is an inspiration for my sculpture and painting. After traveling to Sri Lanka and seeing the powerful Buddha images there, I began to practice in earnest. My first sculpture after returning was “Buddha’s Feet”, inspired by a sculpture fragment that I saw in a Burmese temple.

Theme or focus comes into play as well. When beginning a sitting, I often pick an aspect of the Dharma to contemplate, such as loving kindness or emptiness. And in my daily painting practice, I select a monthly theme upon which to concentrate my paintings, such as Bodhisattvas, Prayer Flags, Goddesses, or more quotidian themes like Food, Objects in a Landscape or Books. In these paintings, I often add Buddhist images like stupas, mudras, and seated or reclining Buddhas.

Dreams are a source of imagery for my sculpture and paintings. Sometimes I see the completed piece in a dream. Other times, a dream can direct me to stop or start a process. Spiritual inspirations come in dreams and can spur my concentration in meditation.

Story, that of the life of the Buddha, has inspired much of my painting and sculpture and has led me to follow the Eightfold Path, which includes meditation. I have created many versions of the story of Siddhartha: In pen and ink and in ceramic relief. I made a series of monotype prints of the Ox Herding Poems which tell the journey to enlightenment.

I have been a constant contributor to Inquiring Mind, for thirty years a biannual publication of the Vipassana community. Many times, I have responded to calls for specific illustrations to articles and have also contributed my painting and sculptural images for covers and general artwork. Doing so always brought me back to my basic Buddhist practices which are grounded in meditation.


Lorraine Capparell

Lorraine Capparell is a storyteller, gently enticing those who view her work to take a leap into an imaginative world of discovery. She is an accomplished artist, recognized for her work as a painter, sculptor and photographer since 1975.

She divides her time between creating visionary sculptural pieces, and richly colorful paintings and watercolors that communicate her unique focus on life.

Capparell is a native of Rochester, New York, and received her bachelor of science from Cornell University. She moved to California in the early ‘70s and studied sculpture with Steven DeStaebler at San Francisco State University. She also traveled widely in Asia, studying Buddhist and Hindu sculpture, painting and temple architecture. Capparell has worked as a freelance graphic designer and photographer.

Her work has been in both group and solo exhibitions in California and New York, and is in the collections of the Palo Alto Buddhist Temple, Apple Computer, the Theo Jung Collection of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and at Barkley Field, Woodside, CA.

Besides creating sculpture in three dimensions as well as in relief, Capparell paints daily in watercolor or acrylic. Creating artwork every day is a vehicle for attaining the physical skills necessary to convey her intentions and observations. She has shared this passion for quotidian production with many artists and writers. In May, 2015, Capparell collaborated with former Santa Clara County Poet Laureate, Nils Peterson, for a month of paintings and poems on “Air, Earth, Fire, and Water”, which have been seen and heard at San Jose’s History Park and the Trianon Gallery.

Her audience appreciates nature, and also enjoys the visual puns that she includes in her 40” x 40” paintings. Striking in these watercolors is a “layered vision”; each image hums with an air of expectancy, meaning and symbolism. The images reveal symbolic movement: overgrown hillsides, atmospheric landscapes, openings, closings, circular beginnings and ends. Each of these watercolors represents what the English novelist E.M,. Forester once called the “significant moment”; the pivot upon which life’s journey may turn.


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