Contemplative Art of Joseph B. Van West

Pen and ink drawings

Joseph B. Van West (1922-1987) was an artist, art teacher, and life-long learner who embraced the traditions of many peoples and cultures. He taught students to find their personal creativity through art in elementary schools, high schools, colleges, and universities. Joe's classes ranged from basic to advanced techniques in many media, including drawing, painting, print-making, ceramics, jewelry design, and mixed materials, to the history of art and architecture in their cultural contexts. Although he worked in many media, he is most well-known for his serigraphs and watercolors, some of which have been collected by museums in his native New England. Joe also took on a few commissions for graphic designs and illustrations.

His son-in-law, Roger Irwin, requested that Joe create these pen-and-ink drawings to enhance a series of guided meditations that Roger had written in 1983 to be used for nature meditations of the environmental organization, Amaterra. Although secular, his "Contemplations on the Care and Love of the Earth", were inspired, in large part, by Saint Ignatius of Loyola's Spiritual Excercises (1524), a set of meditations, prayers, and mental exercises, designed to be carried out over a period of 28 to 30 days.

First Meditation: Cave Second Meditation: Meadow Third Meditation: Tree Fourth Meditation: Mountain Fifth Meditation: Mists Sixth Meditation: Clouds Seventh Meditation: Eagle Eighth Meditation: Sound Ninth Meditation: Flame Tenth Meditation: Rising Sun Eleventh Meditation: Inner Light Twelfth Meditation: Setting Sun Thirteenth Meditation: Gentle Rain Fourteenth Meditation: Mountain Stream Fifteenth Meditation: Waterfall Sixteenth Meditation: Ocean