Saturday, 6 September 2014

The Breathing Brush

Here I am in front of my students, teaching Sumi-e painting. They are attentively looking at me with their brush in their hands. I explain to them how to hold it, how to feel that brush as part of their body, how to feel the breath down into their belly ( dantian, hara) and how to feel the brush breathing with them... The mind needs more....the mind needs to understand ….how can the brush breathe?

Do we really need to understand this? I only know that if we trust that it does, we together with that breathing brush will create a painting, a statement that has a breath of it's own.


  1. I agree that somethings we need to understand and others we need to accept. I'm a potter and as I work with my clay I have a vague idea what I want at the end but usually the clay works me and not the other way about. When I paint if I try to control the work it ends up looking tight and formulaic whereas if I let the work take over it is usually a piece that is emotional and full of life.

  2. Beautiful comment....would love to see your "breathing" pottery...thank you.

  3. Good point Kathy. Never really thought of it, I guess forcing *is* an attempt to control--duh! to me.

    I see letting go of control maybe synonymous with being "in the zone" as they say

    I've often wondered about that--how to get to that place where the work paints itself, as it were. Usually I just work and work and it happens. But I don't think it needs be that I *don't* have the vision of the work before hand. I'm not sure that is the defining factor I mean.

    How can one focus on being in this moment without forcing it? It seems a conundrum.

  4. I think it is not focusing on being in the moment, as it is a natural state of being, but realizing/noticing what (thoughts, believes) are keeping us away from it and letting them go...Our western mind tends to be obsessed by them and that's what makes it difficult....