Sit. Sumi Circle. Sit. I remember the instruction from a Contemplative Art class I took fifteen years ago. Waiting motionless, eyes soft, feet on floor, and the blank, white paper, ink, brush: Pause. Lift arm-brush. Dip. Inscribe circle, unfurl line onto white space. I am revealed in the mark: a collapsed edge, unmet ends, a blob, a waver, a dwindling scratch. Everything is in the weight of hand meeting substrate through brush. This is marriage. Commit.
What is at stake, in this circle, in this line? My great success? My immanent failure? The voices yammer on, yet, almost imperceptibly, they also begin to recede. There is so much in that ragged little mark, the quavery and dented circle.
Strange, I think, how people gravitate toward my crooked lines, my primitive circles. They are envoys for the longing, disoriented, joyful, naked flops of my human person. And they are elusive: I must grow toward the sun, sense the looming storm over the darkening gold of my meadow, unfold my stem toward the line of another. I must become that line, that circle, that flower. I must be born as it is born. There is no automation in an art practice. The ones I keep, the ones that are worth keeping, are far between.
It’s incredibly difficult sometimes to simply attend to things. Just really do them and not anything else; no agenda, no dessert! waiting at the end. A piece of paper. Ink and water. To be willing to sit there and wait. And then to recognize when I have finally tired of plotting my escape; to realize when I have landed and my gesture has become larger than the hoping to get on with it. I must grow as my stroke grows: no faster. No slower. This is practice.