States of mind. Obviously the one on the right is preferable, but it is difficult to maintain. The drawing is an ensō. I have seen these Zen circle drawings before but had to look up what it was called! The concept is fascinating. I did that one first and then drew the one on the left as its opposite.
Drawing ensō is a disciplined practice of Japanese ink painting—sumi-e (墨絵 “ink painting”?). The tools and mechanics of drawing the ensō are the same as those used in traditional Japanese calligraphy: One uses a brush (筆 fudé?) to apply ink to washi (a thin Japanese paper).
Usually a person draws the ensō in one fluid, expressive stroke. When drawn according to the sōsho (草書?) style of Japanese calligraphy, the brushstroke is especially swift. Once the ensō is drawn, one does not change it. It evidences the character of its creator and the context of its creation in a brief, contiguous period of time. Drawing ensō is a spiritual practice that one might perform as often as once per day.
This spiritual practice of drawing ensō or writing Japanese calligraphy for self-realization is called hitsuzendō (筆禅道 “way of the brush”?). Ensō exemplifies the various dimensions of the Japanese wabi-sabi perspective and aesthetic: Fukinsei (asymmetry, irregularity), kanso (simplicity), koko (basic; weathered), shizen (without pretense; natural), yugen (subtly profound grace), datsuzoku (freedom), and seijaku (tranquility).
I’ve been finding myself stuck in the left mode far too often lately, but I also think it’s becoming easier and easier to get myself out of it. I’ve been really sporadic with the meditation lately, but I think even the baby steps I’ve taken toward cultivating a practice of mindfulness have been very useful. Just being more aware of thoughts and feelings and noting their presence and then letting them go is invaluable. I spent many years identifying very very strongly with my emotions, because if I’m feeling something, it must be valid information about myself and the world, right? Wrong. So wrong. I think I’m not alone in a tendency to focus on the negative and let the positive float away without notice. We get stuck in negativity and it grows and grows and it becomes ever more difficult to escape. For some reason we are less likely to get stuck in positivity, although it can happen and it becomes a kind of irrational manic exuberance that is no better a reflection of reality than the negative view. I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about what the hell I’m trying to do artistically, so I can finally get around to getting my artist statement to a place that doesn’t make me cringe to read it. And this idea of duality is something that keeps coming to mind, and I think it has a lot to do with emotional states. Light/dark…yin/yang…balance.
I’ve completed my second Art Journal book! This project has been a lot of fun so far and I’ve been pretty successful at actually doing something every day. I’ve missed a few days here and there but at least I’ve made a pretty solid effort at making this a daily thing. I’ve heard from more people than I would have expected that they enjoy seeing these posts on Instagram/Facebook, which is great. I’m starting a new book today. I’ve always loved starting a new book. When I kept a regular journal during college and a few years after I would find myself writing larger and larger toward the very end of a book so I’d be able to start a new one. I think I love beginnings in general- I love New Years, I love the first day of a new month, and I love starting a new artwork. There is something so expansive and free about the beginnings of things. Anything seems possible. It occurs to me as I write this that it would be an interesting exercise to cultivate similar feelings about each day, or each hour, or each minute.