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

a kakemono called ku


Miriam Louisa Simons: detail from scroll - Ku

Ku,  220 x 220

Detail from scroll  (980 x 355)
torn khadi papers, gauze, acrylic paints, lurex threads
pottery fragment, textured canvas


How do you pull a name out of the wordosphere to title a work that has no conceptual basis?

Often artists resort to “Untitled” or a cluster of letters and numbers that would look more at home inside a computer’s database. I’ve resorted to using “Untitled” a handful of times, but mostly I find that the work will tell me its name – and its story too – if I am patient and empty.

The scrolls that I’m posting details from at present reeled their names off like tiddlywinks as soon as they had found their format – ie, the kakemono or scroll.

Mu. Ku. Wu.

And Lu.

Hmmm, thought I, what means this?

and then along came lu

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