Art and Nature

UTAH .jpg

A short visit to Utah last month, the area around Arches National Park, was a refreshing jolt to body, mind and spirit.

The clean raw beauty of nature brings life into perspective. That's the goal of my art ...bringing the expansiveness of nature into daily life with visual and textural forms that lead the eye through a wall to vistas beyond.   Even the dense material of concrete  can have that ephemeral, translucent quality!


Real artwork doesn't just decorate a wall or space. It evokes feelings, memory, anticipation. Byzantine artists from 12th century painted icons to  spiritually pull the viewer through the painted surface into direct contact with the divine.  Japanese Zen artists paint a circle called an “Enso”, meant to release the painter AND viewer into eternity.  ( If you are intrigued and want to know more, I’ve pasted the Wikipedia definition of Enso at the bottom of this entry.)

  Ensō  (c. 2000) by  Kanjuro Shibata XX . Some artists draw  ensō  with an opening in the circle, while others close the circle. Enso Painting by

Ensō (c. 2000) by Kanjuro Shibata XX. Some artists draw ensō with an opening in the circle, while others close the circle. Enso Painting by



Wikipedia definition:

"Ensō (円相) is a Japanese word meaning “circle” and a concept strongly associated with Zen. Ensō is one of the most common subjects of Japanese calligraphy even though it is a symbol and not a character. It symbolizes the Absolute enlightenment, strength, elegance, the Universe, and the void; it can also symbolize the Japanese aesthetic itself. As an “expression of the moment” it is often considered a form of minimalist expressionist art.

In Zen Buddhist painting, ensō symbolizes a moment when the mind is free to simply let the body/spirit create. The brushed ink of the circle is usually done on silk or rice paper in one movement (but the great Bankei used two strokes sometimes) and there is no possibility of modification: it shows the expressive movement of the spirit at that time. Zen Buddhists “believe that the character of the artist is fully exposed in how she or he draws an ensō. Only a person who is mentally and spiritually complete can draw a true ensō. Some artists will practice drawing an ensō daily, as a kind of Spiritual Practice.”

Some artists paint ensō with an opening in the circle, while others complete the circle. For the former, the opening may express various ideas, for example that the ensō is not separate, but is part of something greater, or that imperfection is an essential and inherent aspect of existence (see also the idea of broken symmetry). The principle of controlling the balance of composition through asymmetry and irregularity is an important aspect of the Japanese aesthetic: Fukinsei (不均斉), the denial of perfection."








Susan Wagner