Stillness & Waiting

About Stillness & Waiting -Works on Paper

Volumes have been written about Buddhist art and Zen art.  I'm not interested in adding to that conversation, nor am I qualified to do so. 

In these works on paper, I start from Zen artforms that have moved me for many years.  But instead of recreating culturally foreign forms, I am exploring them on my own terms... with visual elements outside any one culture and close to my (perhaps everyone's) heart and mind:  The moon, our other planets, my own human heartbeat. 

The red seals/chops in this work were made for me.  One is my name-image and the others were carved for me by a young poet/seal carver in China.  These reference the titles and related imagery.

This Moment: Quiet & Spacious as the Moon (I through VI)

“Ensō” is a particular kind of Zen practice/art practice. It is a painted circle that is said to symbolize the infinite universe and manifest the mind of the practitioner at the moment of making. The most prized Ensō scroll paintings are made by accomplished monks, but the practice is open to us all. Or at least to anyone brazen enough to tackle a universal circle, drawn in a single breath, manifesting the soul. Ha.

These Ensō were painted by me. But then they were scanned and the sumi-e ink is replaced by moon terrain from NASA’s exhaustive catalog of satellite photographs of the solar system. Somehow, dragging a brush around a circle, leaving behind a barren surface of craters, light and shadow seems less daunting than marking a page with my perfected spirit.

Series of 6. Hahnemühle paper, 13 x 19 inches. Also printed on Onkawara paper and scroll mounted.

Senmenzu of Longing (Mercury's Northern Hemisphere) (I through IV)

Also a series of 6.  "Senmenzu" translates from Japanese as "Fan Plane View" and is a particularly lovely paper shape used in both Japan and China.  It simply means that the paper or image is the arc shape of an open folding fan.  Though they probably started as paintings made into fans, Senmenzu are scroll mounted and often displayed in Chado/Tea Rooms.  When I was looking over the photographs in NASA's Planetary Gazette, I realized that the images of Mercury and Venus were, in fact, Senmenzu...

Shown is the Mercury (Northern Hemisphere) series.  Each original photo is skewed slightly to reflect traditional Senmenzu proportions, and printed with a cyan overlay.  The four together would create a complete topography of the northern face of the planet.  A small Enso is painted around one of Mercury's craters and guilded in Paladium leaf.  Both an inclusion of a visual element from the tradition and my circling of a specific crater... One that perhaps I'm especially longing to visit.  To be mounted in traditional manner for Chado / Tea rooms.

Waiting (Between Heartbeats)
{Images coming soon...}

"One Stroke" or "First Stroke" is a ink painting/calligraphy mark expressing on a clear field, from a clear mind.  This piece is a swarm of "first strokes" each one drawn in the tiny time-space between my heartbeats.  The beat clears the mind, the line is drawn until the next beat.

Underpinning this process is, of course, awareness of the moment when the next beat does not come.  The not-so-tiny time-space after a heart's last beat is implied in each mark.  Like the exhale in breath-counting meditation is a "practice of dying," this is also an encounter with my own mortality, observed with my nose to paper, fingers on my carotid artery, over and over.