Fine art, painting, teaching and research

Seed & Matrix

Category : Writings

Artistic process is not very open to being ‘formalised’, but here are some ideas to muse upon.

Working without a design means one may be toiling around with paint for some time, before inspiration strikes. Without some sort of structure it may be possible to get lost for a time with ‘brown sauce’.

I have found working with the analogy of the seed and the matrix to be very helpful to the creative compositional aspect.

This comes from nature… but also has analogues to the mystical system known as the Kaballah.


Starting with the most subtle levels of inspiration, this is symbolised in Kabbalah as the uppermost Sepiroth, Kether. Kether is actually ‘Ain Soph’, the boundless and non-conceptualised vastness and immensity of the mystery of existence. It is completely beyond the minds ability to encapsulate. This is the place we find ourselves, sometimes fearfully, when looking at a blank canvas, and feeling the minds machination to grope for pattern or something to seize upon and represent.


Chokhmah, the ‘second’ sepiroth, is where the immensity is channelled into something like a compressed spark of light, like the ultra-compressed quantum-fluctuation or ‘word’ from which the entire cosmos suddenly leaps forth (if the tales are true). On the human level this can be represented as something like a seed. It can also be equated to the uppermost octaves of human orgasm. It is ‘seminal’ in that a the Logos of the ‘word’ or ‘concept’ leaps forth as sacrificial offering to Binah, the ‘third’ sepiroth (though in reality, Kether, Chokhmah and Binah are together always, completely beyond these concepts of a linear sequence).


Binah represents the limitless possibilities of the seed teased open into boundless realms of harmonic grace according to the laws of freedom and limit implied by the ‘structuring intelligence’ of the crystalline blackness of the cosmic womb. The Logos is received by the womb of potential in which it begins to germinate in a fertile galactic garden of multiple dimensions. The process is also sacrificial in that expression and being implies collapse of limitless unformed potential, condensed into actual form.

The pristineness of the womb potential is always there. The seed which it received contains a particular template to unfold. The collaboration of the spark with the kindling creates the blaze of creation.


When one has an alchemical preparation, saturated with a certain kind of substance, one can precipitate the formation of crystals, can bring forth the process of crystallisation by dropping in a ‘seed crystal’. This seed is a form of the substance already undergone structuring. From this seed the entire solution receives information, receives an influence or command to begin organising itself along this plan.

My analogy to this is that the artist creates for themselves a matrix, and a seed. The combination of the two brings forth a world.

In practical terms it is the creation of a receptive space and an active space. In this I allow a dance between eros and logos.

There is a tendency amongst the art community to deny one or the other. People decide in their minds that ‘the mind’, or some concept of ‘mind’ is bad, and then censoriously cling to intuition or spontaneity. Other people plan everything, and measure everything. Invite interplay. No stuff of mind or no-mind (and even the incoherent!) is to be excluded, the process of painting is an embrace and inclusivity of all being.

The receptive space is a textural play, an open landscape, a basic shape, a primordial division of light and dark.

The active action is the seed concept. The seed concept can be a ‘formal subject’ such as a face, a body, an animal, a totem, a combination.

The entire design at this point is unclear. But there is a starting point – seed, and a ‘ground of potential’, the matrix, which will interact. From this combination a world can start to develop.

This allows space for happy accidents, spontaneous discoveries, but there is still retained the sense of theme and composition governed by the signal of the seed.


A seed defines a central area of focus. In terms of sacred art, this is the place of communion or affinity for the viewer. It is the divinity, the subject of devotion. It is the place of transmutation or sublimation.

The matrix holds the seed like the womb holds an embryo, or like the earth holds the roots of a germinating plant, or a nest holds an egg. It is the mandala surrounding that divinity which expresses its waves of influence upon its surroundings. It expresses the ‘ornamentation’ of divinity.

A matrix, when created, may come alive with unexpected things. As the crystallisation proceeds from the seed, other latent forms held within the libraries of the unmanifest may begin to make themselves known. They occur in relationship to the main seed form and weave into the narrative in unanticipated ways. Whilst they remain nested within the main composition, these ‘compositions within compositions’ add to the the depth, intricacy and movement of ‘the score’ (like the passages of a symphony). There is opportunity to tell ‘more of the tale’ in a work of magnitude.

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