Difference between revisions of "Draw an Enso"
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== Ensos ==
== Ensos ==
If you are not familiar
If you are not familiar ensos they are just circles. They are drawn in one, maybe two, brushstrokes. The idea is to paint it in one fluid stroke, totally in the moment, expressing the moment rather than some ideal of a circle.
== First Try ==
== First Try ==
Revision as of 21:00, 1 October 2019
While I was doing a practice session as a guest at Gulch Farm, I drew an enso.
Green Gulch Farm
Several people from my zendo went out to Green Gulch Farm in early June of 2019. If you are not familiar with Green Gulch Farm, it is a Buddhist practice center and temple associated with the San Francisco Zen Center lineage (that of Shunryu Suzuki). Since my zendo is one of the "Branching Streams" of people in that lineage, we were able to come for four days and pactice with the monks. We only did morning practice with them, and they were on their non-pactice period schedule with less meditation. So we would sit with them for 40 minutes in the morning, and then do three hours of work practice with them. I spent my work practice time in the kitchen.
The afternoon was free, but as a group we did several Zen activities together. One of those was a workshop on Zen calligraphy, especially ensos.
If you are not familiar with ensos they are just circles. They are drawn in one, maybe two, brushstrokes. The idea is to paint it in one fluid stroke, totally in the moment, expressing the moment rather than some ideal of a circle.
The sort of center one (the second one in the second column) is I think my favorite of all the ensos I did that day. It's got a nice weight to it. The inconsistency of the ink really shows the brush stroke well. And while it's a little bit off from a true circle, it clearly contains a true circle. I'm going to try to make that the one that is the current icon of my web site.
I don't like any of these. They're way to sloppy, they are way off from being a circle, and while they are clearly brush strokes, I don't think they express that very well. Or maybe they express poor brush strokes very well. However, I don't think that makes them any less valid as ensos than my favorite one from the first set. They express the moment. I didn't want a sloppy, poorly formed moment. But the moment doesn't care what I wanted. There is nothing in that moment that could be called sloppiness or poor performance. If I think the moment was sloppy and poorly performed, that's my problem.
I like this one okay. It's got a good form, I thing very much as a consequence of using my whole arm. The brush stroke is not as expressive. I chalk that up to my inexperience with brushes and ink. I don't know how much ink to have on a brush to get the expressiveness I am looking for. The expressiveness of the one I really like happened by chance, not based on any understanding of the technique on my part. I don't think it has enough weight to it, either. But I was just trying to fill the space. I do like how the start at the top right looks a little like a reptilian head. It gives the enso a bit of an Ouroboros feel.
One thing I discovered actually doing ensos is that I see the direction of them backwards. All of the ensos I did started at the right of the top and went clockwise around the page. But the way I've always see the motion of ensos, they look like they're going counter-clockwise.