In Chapter 3, Allen presents to the reader the concept of Witnessing, “being in the present to our images and to each other in compassion, without voicing judgment.” She calls attention to the difference between “voicing” judgments and “not having” judgments. Judgments are part of one’s survival system; important information one needs about their values and ideas. When one makes a judgment about another’s artwork, they place their value system onto the other person. The purpose of withholding judgment of one’s work or another’s is to deflate the ego and promote the relationship between the artwork and the artist. The author gives reference to Jungian theory, as well as to the work of Shaun McNiff, Mary Watkins and Marshall Rosenberg. Witnessing the image requires a practice of noticing the old patterns of voicing judgments, and being willing to not comment on ones work. Judgments bring attention to what one is lacking. Art becomes a spiritual path when connecting to the Creative Source. The intention of witnessing is not to discourage communication, but to enhance connection, especially for those at a tender beginning of creating. There is one exception to the no comment rule the author suggests, and that is to share with the other one’s gratitude as it is fundamental to the creative process. Sharing a thank you to the experience.
I encourage you to buy a copy of Art is a Spiritual Path for a better understanding of your own creative process. Whether you're a master artist or beginning artist, this is an excellent book.