Zen art expresses the inexpressible as it helps to transform the way we see ourselves in the world. It is both the ultimate statement and the beginning of the journey all at once.
The form of the circle is iconic to the formation of many languages, be it as a symbol for the moon, the sun, the wheel of reality. Known as the ensō in Japan, it is the most common subject of zen calligraphy. Its essence can be difficult to grasp.
Is it just a circle painted in one stroke, or is it the totality of our existence? Is it creating an enclosure in the chaos or is it defining nothingness?
In its creation, the ensō challenges the painter/practitioner to be present, to be open, to be flexible, and to be honest.
It requires the painter to both put themselves totally in the stroke and to totally get out of the way in its expression at the same moment.
Painting the ensō is a koan in motion.
Pick up the brush and be ready to leap into this moment.
— Bob Schmitt, June 2017
Bob Schmitt is a Quaker and a student and teacher of Chinese calligraphy and painting who lives and paints a stone’s throw from Minnehaha Falls. Learn more at www.laughingwatersstudio.com.