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


Frederick Franck’s to-do list

doveFFFrederick Franck, Dove

the promise of painting post reminded me of Frederick Franck’s to-do list.  He called it his 10 Commandments:

These Ten Commandments on seeing/drawing were revealed to me on a mountain, but also in a meadow, on a beach and even in the subway.  For their revelation did not come all at once, but in installments, as it were, over the years, and always while I was busy drawing, and invariably on holy ground.  But that may be because, while drawing, all ground is holy: unseparated from the Whole.

1  You shall draw everything and every day

2  You shall not wait for inspiration, for it comes not while you wait but while you work

3  You shall forget all you think you know and, even more, all you have been taught

4  You shall not adore your good drawings and promptly forget your bad ones

5  You shall not draw with exhibitions in mind, nor to please any critic but yourself

6  You shall trust none but your own eye, and make your hand follow it

7  You shall consider the mouse you draw as more important than the contents of all the museums in the world, for

8  You shall love the ten thousand things with all your heart and a blade of grass as yourself

9  Let each drawing be your first:  A celebration of the eye awakened

10  You shall not worry about “being of your time”, for you are your time

And it is brief

– Frederick Franck, The Awakened Eye


For more info about Frederick Franck visit the awakened eye website