California breathing


Wonderingmind Studio: Miriam Louisa Simons, Breathscribe Series, Ojai

breathscribe series: Ojai breathing
Ojai, California
1560 x 1530
acrylic on textured loose canvas


The breathscribe series was the focus of my studio practice while I was a summer school tutor at Oak Grove School in Ojai, California.

Unfortunately most of the work completed during that sylvan summer was auctioned at a fundraising fair for the school before being documented.

This large piece, begun beneath Californian summer skies, stayed with me. It came to Australia and was completed there, in this beautiful hand-crafted Japanese retreat in the rainforest near Byron Bay. I love the way it looks so at-home in the tokonoma.

There is one way of breathing that is shameful and constricted.
Then, there’s another way:
a breath of love that takes you all the way to infinity.
– Rumi

my brush is my suijo
how many ways can you draw quiet?
breathscribe series

how many ways can you draw quiet?

I’ve tried many ways. I delight in “Seeing-Drawing”, the wonderful meditative practice I learned from Frederick Franck on one of his retreats and also from his classic The Zen of Seeing. I’ve tried just about every form of visual poetry: color, tone, texture. They have all been effective to a degree. Frederick Franck used to assert that the inexpressible was the only thing worth expressing. I took this statement as a koan as I explored ways to express that ineffable quietude.

It wasn’t until my practice distilled down to the essential life-tide of beingness that I approached real stillness, real quietude.

One soft succulent dawn in India I asked myself,  “How would I express that which is most fundamental to my life?

What would that look like?

Breathe in. Breathe out and let a line flow… and again, and again, again.

I drew my breath.

Breathscribe 1, Rishi Valley, India

That was how it began – by just putting down a simple horizontal line every time I exhaled. On the inhalation I paused; returned to my palette.

The line drawn, or painted, was as long as the out-breath, or as long as the paint in the brush lasted.

It didn’t take long for the breath to take over. As I gave myself over more freely and openly to its movement, it rose up and wrapped itself around me. It picked me up and melted me into its rhythm.

I had entered breath’s temple of quietude and I was nowhere to be found.

There was only this breath-breathing Beingness.


my brush is my suijo

California breathing

breath-prayer for Miriam

breathscribe series

breath-prayer for Miriam


There has been a re-ordering of my universe.
My beloved mother, Miriam, has left. She was 96.
Why wasn’t I ready?

I sat

and waited

and breathed

a little painting happened
it’s a tiny breathscribe piece – an ex-pression of grief
and gratitude
and love


Wonderingmind Studio: Miriam Louisa Simons, Breathscribe Series, Prayer for Miriam

acrylic light-reflective pigment on textured ground,
gold leaf, dragonfly wing


breathscribe series