What is Zen Painting?

Zen painting is free, effortless, natural painting. There is no planning, thought, or struggle. When one is engaged with Zen painting, there is no painter and no thing being painted; the painter and the painted are one. D.T. Suzuki describes it similarly, "The secret is to become the plant itself..." That is just so. But that is not to say that it is easy. Well, sometimes it is... It mirrors Zen practice in that it may likewise be said that Zen is free, effortless, and natural, like the Buddha-nature within us all. But Zen practice, on the other hand, is very difficult, like life as we know it. The usual state to which we are accustomed is fraught with difficulty, for we do not know our Buddha-nature, though it is all the while there with us. We are confused and don't know who or why we are or what to do, etcetera. So, too, in Zen painting, the struggle is to maintain purity, and not let the ego take over with excess thinking, planning, judgment, and confusion. As children, we naturally paint, effortlessly as we see fit, and then we are taught to look this way and do it that way, and we are led to this place of judgment and confusion. Zen painting runs counter to the usual academic and conceptual methods for creation of artwork. It is on this axis between intuition and conceptualization where difficulty lies. But here also lies intrigue and delight, in the spot, just beyond difficulty!

By its nature Zen painting dictates no content, not even the famous Zen content of no-content. In Zen painting you will encounter things as rich and varied as you find in the world around you, your mind, or your imagination. There is no difference. My work is richly varied. In Zen-fashion, it goes deep beneath the surface, uncovering difficult issues which people are afraid to look at, admit, or contend with. The nature works are bright and delightfully gay, and the figurative works are intensely honest.