On My Art

William Arthur Mills

With selections from Art as a Manifestation of the Perennial Presence Within

© William Arthur Mills

  Copyright © 2008-2011 William Arthur Mills, all rights reserved. 

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Detail from “Manifest and Available” / Acrylic on wood mounted on wood/ 16” x 46”

Please visit the “Illumined Words” Page for more about this piece.

Upper left detail of the throne of “Sacred Hermaphrodite”/ acrylic on canvas/ 72” x 46”

In this detail above, the upper left side of the Great Hermaphrodite Ardhanarishwara’s throne merges with the immutable simultaneous manifest, the very composite of every thing. The Sacred Hermaphrodite illustrates, and affirms, the triumph of the one great consciousness, eternally flowing in the great ocean-sky of non-duality. Through the use of archetype, this painting explores the silent, nameless, formless regions within.

See the “Mother of the Universe” and “The Sacred Hermaphrodite” Pages.

Detail from “Arc of Golden Light”/acrylic on canvas/ 52” x 72”/ 2004

“ONE”/ Ink on paper/ 8.5” x 11”/2006

Please visit the “Cosmic Self” Page to see more of this series of drawings.

“At the Gate of the Mother of Compassion” (this painting is dedicated to Bhavabhayaharini, “She Who Removes the Fear of Earthly Existence”)/ acrylic on canvas/ 52” x 52”

“Without looking back, Pearl, in her road-weary petticoats, embarks upon the next leg of the journey”  India Ink wash on paper /17.5” x 23”/1993

“Excavation in the Garden of Sensual Delights”/acrylic on canvas/48”X 60”/ 1993

Detail from “...and I’ve tried so hard to please you!”

acrylic on canvas/ 27” x 33”/ 1988/ Collection of James Derham, Collingswood, NJ

(Please visit the “East Village Years” Page for a 180 degree hairpin curve- the 1980’s!)

“It all hit the fan just as Beatrice’s Raspberry Mousse was about to be served...”

Acrylic on canvas/ 46” x 39.5”/ 1992

“Early Spring Dance/ White Mountains”  acrylic on canvas/ 39.5” x 46”/ 1997

“Shankara’s Paintbrush”/ acrylic and paper on wood/ 23.5” x 16”/2002

The inscription reads: “Homage to Him who paints the picture of the three worlds, thereby displaying His amazing genius: to Shiva, Who is beautiful, with hundreds of appearances laid out by the brush of His own unique, subtle, and pure Shakti”.

Shiva is the still, pure, unchanging, supreme spectator, residing in the infinite field of non-differentiated consciousness. Behind all form (including all concepts of formlessness), behind the animate and inanimate, is the One Self we all share: our Shiva-ness. Much of the art on these pages addresses this immutable Oneness, or Shiva-ness, the Sovereign Witness ‘behind’ the myriad surfaces of all possible manifestation- the Perennial Presence Within.

“Aum”/ acrylic on wood (mounted on wood)/ 37.5 x 30”/2001

“Excavation in the Celestial Reefs”/ acrylic on canvas/  32” x 44”/ 1992

Alleghania”/ acrylic on canvas/ 39.5” x 46”/ 1994

“Vac”/ India Ink and acrylic wash on paper/ 17.5” x 23”/1993 

“Love’s Messengers”/ Acrylic on wood/ 15” x 34”/1996

In the mid 1990’s, I painted many of these ‘word’ paintings. The format and mood of this particular image was influenced by Abrecht Durer’s exquisite “Flood (Dream Vision)” of 1525. The words come from A Course in Miracles (Chapter 19, “The Obstacles to Peace”). Please visit the “Illumined Words” Page for further information on this piece/series.

The inscription reads:

“Love's messengers are gently sent, and return with messages of love and gentleness. The messengers of fear are harshly ordered to seek out guilt, and cherish every scrap of evil and sin that they can find, losing none of them on pain of death, and laying them respectfully before their lord and master. Perception cannot obey two masters, each asking for messages of different things, in different languages. What fear would feed upon, love overlooks. What fear demands, love cannot even see. The fierce attraction that guilt holds for fear is wholly absent from love's gentle perception. What love would look upon is meaningless to fear- and quite invisible.”


“The Void which is the Full, and the Full which is the Void”

In Hinduism, the archetype of the union of Shiva and Shakti, symbolized as our Cosmic Parents ecstatically merged as One, is the working model for all of existence. This union of Shiva and Shakti into one body, half god/ half goddess, is Ardhanarishwara. Representing the synthesis of masculine and feminine energies, all existence, It eternally weaves itself into the complex cellular fabric of universe within universe. 

To read more about Ardhanarishwara, please visit The Sacred Hermaphrodite” Page.

       “Could I interest you in the Baba au Rhum, Mr. Titherington?”

                                 acrylic on canvas/ 20” x 24”/1995

“Stern and determined, through frail as icicles”/ India ink on paper

22.5” x 28.5”/ 1983

What we do here in this life echoes in eternity. We are timeless, changeless, formless, and forever free- right here- in this ever precious moment, now. For me, acting from ‘here’ with passion and certainty, but at the same time employing an equal measure of detachment, brings freshness to my vision and balance to the co-creative process.

My purest intention is that these images stimulate the experiencer to a heightened awareness of his/her own inner nature. This inner nature is the Being I have come to know as The Self-  ‘That’ which we all share.

I like to think of my work as a celebration of the universal spirit of consciousness, which pervades all life and matter everywhere. To empower one’s self to more fully experience one’s own spiritual authority. Listening, and abiding in, the whisperings of the One Heart is at the very essence and core of our humanity. In doing so, we are claiming the inherent wisdom that is within us-  to inform, inspire, and guide us through our lives.

To “The Void which is the Full, and the Full which is the Void”!

William Arthur Mills

New York, NY

January 2012

“Silence”/ © 2009 William Arthur Mills/ Ink on paper/ 11” x 8.5”

“The Gift”/ acrylic on unbleached linen/ 62”x 44”/ 2005

“Arc of Golden Light”/acrylic on canvas/ 52” x 72”/ 2004

“Coney Island”/ pen and ink/ 4” x 6”/ 1978

Please visit “Pen & Ink” Page

“MOTHER”/ ink on paper/ 8.5” x 11”/ 2005

From the “Mother of the Universe” Page

“Empress of Duality”/ acrylic on canvas/ 30” x 24”/1996

“Listen”, says the Sovereign Goddess of All Worlds, “The infinite consciousness known as the Self, and the infinite space, are all one substance, all pervaded by the same infinite consciousness”.

“MOTHER MATRIX of ALL ENERGY” (No. 1) / ink on paper/ 11” x 8.5”

“Goddess of Supreme Wisdom, illumine me”

Acrylic and paper on wood/ 14.5” x 12”/ 2001

Details of the left leg (above) and golden foot (below) of “The Divine Hermaphrodite”. This painting celebrates “the Void which is the Full, and the Full which is the Void”. Pictured here, and most worthy of worship, is the left foot of “Ardhanarishwara”, the cosmic feminine half of the Sacred Hermaphrodite. The feet of a deity, a spiritual delicacy, represent release from fear, worldliness, and the maya of ego.

“You ARE the Entire Universe”/ © 2008 William Arthur Mills/ Ink on paper/ 11” x 8.5”

The Ever Present Stillness

Perhaps one of the reasons that art ‘making’ is so tremendously satisfying is because it requires that one be as engaged in the present moment as much as possible. Artists know much about being engaged in the present moment; indeed, we thrive on it. For me, a most paramount ingredient in this mix is the satisfaction I experience when being fully present- and absorbed- in the co-creative process. For this reason, drawing and painting are immensely satisfying activities. They are both relatively direct mediums, and, as such, abound in a myriad of experiences. Most enjoyable are the incomparably sublime moments when I am deliciously present, and acting in a free, spontaneous, and harmonious manner.

Painting and drawing afford an excellent opportunity to commune with this ever expansive stillness of the present. Being in the moment is critical to the success of a piece. The creative process is ceaselessly calling out to this present moment, now, to enliven and enrich it; or, sometimes, to agitate it- often churning up new options. At it’s most conscious moments, however, ‘making’ art is very much about communing with this inner space, where there is an all pervading sense of unity and purpose. Apparently, from my own experience, all success in this endeavor lies in simply surrendering to- and trusting- the flow of intuition.

Stillness and surrender work very well together. Much of this art, especially in more recent years, comes from a space of peaceful surrender to this exquisitely illumined silence. It is my most conscious intention that these images are received and appreciated for their contemplative nature; embracing the vast timeless wisdom within. In this spirit, I most humbly offer these pages. In addition, may they provide peaceful sojourn into the rarified realms within- our very birthright.

Aligned with the pure sublime grace of this ever present moment- now- the consciously applied action of drawing and painting is a superb process for self transformation. This present moment, where everything happens- and nothing at all happens, is a fertile field for the art of self inquiry. Zen traditions teach us that each moment literally is the universe. This ageless wisdom expounds that all existence is literally one continuous, seamless consciousness- animate and inanimate, with no break or separation anywhere. In truth, there is forever ‘only’ One, masquerading as many.

Oneness, born of the exquisite, ever expanding stillness, is the very nature and essence of our being. Knowledge of the ONE Behind the Many is a tremendous source of peace and lasting joy. This awareness of our oneness is our truest identity. Our most authentic Self. And, from my experience, there is only one way to access this Self; as this often illusive and playfully invisible treasure resides only in this present moment-  now.

Stillness proceeds all action. Universally, It is consciousness which informs all action. The art making process works exactly the same way. The ideas, concepts, materials, techniques... all expand to varying realms of manifestation along with their all pervading host: Stillness. In the process of many years, life times-  or, in this one omnipresent moment-  a ripe and ready devotee of Silence will awaken to a sustained awareness of oneness with all of ‘creation’. Of this inevitability I am certain.

‘Making’ art that severs the false notion of separateness, and, instead, revels in the true freedom of a non-dual, universal experience, is most enjoyable and purposeful for me. Surrendering ‘doer-ship’ in my daily itinerary has had a profound affect on my life (and art). For the most part, the most recent images represented on these pages are attempts to invoke this contemplative space; and, ultimately, to re-claim and ‘embody’ the unborn eternal stillness within.

All the great mystical teachings of the world say that at no time could separation- or limitation- really occur on any level. They also declare that there is no such thing as separate thoughts, objects, or people. The illusory concept of separation, including one’s perception of ‘time’ and ‘space’, were invented by the ego. Time is an illusory device we concocted in attempt to measure the rate of change of the ‘present’. Even Einstein said that there is absolutely, unequivocally, there no such thing as time.

My purest intention is to make art that touches this silent ‘place’ within. Many eastern spiritual traditions, in particular, recognize stillness as the portal to the highest awareness of the Self. Speaking with other artists regarding their experience, the common consensus is that very often the ‘I’ thought is actually eclipsed in surrender to this omnipresent moment.

While working on a drawing or painting, I savor the transportive moments that lift me into the luscious ‘space’ of stillness beyond thought. Mystics from all spiritual traditions agree that it is this stillness that gives rise to the recognition of one’s shared universal being-ness, or Self (Atman). In more recent years, I have come to the humble recognition that the Self does not live in this world, but, rather, it is the world that lives in the Self. The innate awareness of this radiant cosmic presence informs my vision; igniting both paper and canvas with the radiant flames of the atomic phantasmagoria within.

According to many universal spiritual teachings, we are already “That”, which is every thing and non thing. In advaitic philosophy, this boundless designation is often referred to as “That”; precisely because It is unspeakable, indescribable, and unnameable. These ancient teachings impeccably proclaim that we are forever ‘That’- the eternally pure, untouched witness of cosmic oneness- completely free from self will! This peerless wisdom, extracted from the essence of the Vedas, informs us that ‘That’ is timeless, formless, and immutable; and is forever one with the immeasurably subtle (and not so subtle) worlds which (only appear to) surround us.

‘That’, which ‘merely’ witnesses- and does nothing-  has silently beheld our magnificent unbroken perfection for eons. This still, silence voice incessantly beckons, affirming, “There is nothing to do... nowhere to go... and no ‘one’ to ‘become’. There is no separate ‘you’, nor ‘I’, in this harmonious totality of the Self.  The real ‘us’ is the selfsame “That” which is eternally one with the Self with the capital ‘S’.

On the surface, all of the arts are reflections of (as well as a window into) the heart and mind of the artist. Yet, another layer of inquiry may reveal that all the arts, like everything else, is the manifestation of one collective, metaphysically infused, universal consciousness. Actually, of this I am certain. I see this wisdom reflected in everything- everywhere. This world- and all worlds- are absolutely saturated in the all knowing quiescence of spirit.

When thoroughly immersed in the flow of this process, tasting the exhilaration of the present moment, there is, quite often, an unparalleled experience of unbroken, all pervading stillness. There is a sense that everything is composed of this same stillness. It is as if I am enfolded by the process on all sides, and ‘merely’ witnessing my own physical interaction with the particular piece in progress.

It becomes increasingly evident to me that the more established in the present I am, the more alive the art ‘making’ process becomes. The art is then infused with authenticity, immediacy, and directness. From this perspective, I am witnessing where the various aspects of consciousness come together. Intuition, self awareness, the action of the pencil, the texture of the paper, and the emerging drawing, etc., all become one unified field of consciousness.

This pristine second in time offers the only tool necessary for piercing the illusory veil of illusion. All non dual spiritual traditions teach that this same infinite consciousness is eternally present in all beings, and resides in every atom of creation. At the very least, all these various teachings agree that the one pointed experience of this most precious ever-present moment, now, is the portal to the extraordinary.

I think that for most artists, myself included, the process of making art is really about experiencing this delicious creative energy. In other words, we would do it (‘make’ art) whether we were paid for it or not. The process is always most fertile- and alive-  when the “witness” aspect of the mind is in alignment with the emotional, analytical, and spiritual fields of consciousness. I have seen that when all these attributes are in sync, the opportunity for spontaneous, effortless action occurs-  or, more specifically--  it flows.

I’ve long been fascinated with Jackson Pollock’s signature style ‘action’ drip paintings. There is obviously a great deal of analytical thought present in these paintings, as I’m certain that they could not exist otherwise, but the value of the sense of immediacy they convey could never be over estimated. For me, the inherent power and beauty in this period of Pollock’s paintings lies in the perfectly struck balance of these two complimentary worlds.

The Mother is the art and the artist. Everything comes from Her and everything returns to Her. The sacred feminine in all traditions, including all  the arts, is the form of every conceivable thing, thought, or idea. As the Goddess of Nature, like one vast womb, She is the most real and natural creative force imaginable.

The various forms of the creative muse, all fashioned from diverse mythological traditions, appear to have emerged from one particular goddess system or another. I prefer to address this inner voice as the Goddess Muse, graciously revealing the luminous presence of the rarified threads and vital ethers within. From this perspective, it is the wisdom of Her supreme vibratory throb that animates everything under the sun. For this reason, many mystical traditions revere the Divine Mother as the universal wisdom that animates every manifestation of life.

The Divine Mother is the very essence of all the arts, and truly the inspiration behind these pages. She is the supreme muse and guiding intuitive wisdom behind the endless modalities of artistic expression. This timeless journey to no ‘place’ (and, concurrently, every ‘place’) is the only goal of the Self. Each step in this journey is an ecstatic celebration, recognizing every atom of creation as time-less, omnipresent, and eternal. It alone IS the awareness that there is, indeed, but ONE of us here.

The art making process is utterly fascinating on a myriad of levels. It often transports me, however briefly, to a ‘place’ of stillness beyond ideas, concepts, and (most of all), ceaseless thoughts. This silence is the most delicious part of the process. To ‘make’ art that celebrates this vast cosmic mirror is an incomparably delightful experience. When fully engaged in this exquisite process, there are frequently moments when ‘I‘ all but disappear. This is when the real party begins!

“Untitled”/ colored pencil on paper/ 22.5” x 17.5”/ 1988