Read: Zen Seeing, Zen Drawing

Okay, at the moment there two things that feel slightly beyond my capability. Drawing and guitar. Now, I COULD do both of these things but life feels so booked that the idea of adding in the challenge of either of these two pursuits FEELS just beyond reach. Again, they aren’t but until I come to grips they will flounder. I picked up this book, which is an odd read but odd in the sense it makes so much sense. If there is ONE thing I took away and ONE thing I think that makes this essential reading for someone like me is contemplating the difference between looking and actually seeing. Seeing things for how they really are.

Many of us, myself included, spent a lifetime looking through a viewfinder, partly because I lacked the ability to draw. At least I thought so, and my current stock of drawings do little else than illustrate the accuracy of my belief. I still can’t draw. The viewfinder is looking but perhaps not seeing. There is a FEEL with the viewfinder, the point where you no longer think just react to the pieces on the board while you compose and time but the viewfinder in some ways keeps you from actually seeing. At other times it brings you even closer to the action. Get too close, you die. (Salvador.)

Since reading Frederick Frank’s Zen Seeing, Zen Drawing I’m seeing. I’m not drawing yet but I’m seeing. I saw an alien head in the wall of our shower. I saw a dog’s head in the bush outside the bedroom window, and I saw the rims of light on the side-lit edge of cut rock. What’s next for me is the translation of what I see to the pencil and page. Terrifying. Still. Get it, read it, see it.

4 Comments on “Read: Zen Seeing, Zen Drawing”

  1. I went from looking to seeing when I made the shift to finding abstract images in everyday places. The lack of people out in public made the transition even easier, fewer distractions. Saw a retrospective exhibit last week at the Eastman, Carl Chiarenza, phenomenal work, and true seeing. And now I know that I don’t even need to leave the house to create and see abstraction in everyday things.

  2. All people like to draw or have the desire to do so. It must be a human need.
    The problem is not knowing where to start, or finding the time to learn a technique. I live making drafts in my mind about what I see, but I rarely put them on paper. Photography is a passion, although sometimes I find it alienating and editing excessively time-consuming.

    I believe that drawing is spiritually uplifting and the process forces us to “see.” So I recently bought a graphic drawing tablet; I’ve never experimented seriously, but now I steal some time from my work to explore different techniques. The problem is finding suitable software that works as realistically as paper. After doing a lot of research I found Rebelle: they developed something really remarkable to simulate watercolor and pencil, even ink drawing. Anyway, nothing like drawing or painting on paper, but this is easier for having a quick moment of fun.
    I’m going to get that book, by the way, your comments on it are very interesting.
    Saludos desde Montevideo!

    1. Fabrizio,
      I love Montevideo! I love Uruguay. I also agree that drawing does something to me, to us. I started. One small piece per day. Of mundane objects. I suck but I’m learning.

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