Wednesday, February 29, 2012

A Zen Moment

8" x 5.25"
oil on wood, 2012
It's funny what kind of things can cause self consciousness. Take this afternoon for example. I was painting this portrait of Watazumido-Shuso and knowing that he was a zen master and all that, I constantly felt like I was doing it all wrong. With every brushstroke I felt his scorn, I could not get the colors right, not his likeness, nothing. What was lacking in the brushstrokes was consciousness. Not that I ever put consciousness in any brushstroke but now it was blatantly absent. And it made me remember painting lessons from a long time ago. My teachers actually taught me a bit of zen. They had their education in the 1960. At least three of my teachers were real hippies, at least two had lessons from a zen master, and at least one was a zen master himself. And then it was not just Watazumido looking down at me, but a whole score of teachers were shaking their heads. I suddenly could hear Ernst Vijlbrief laughing out loud. He did that a lot, you never knew if he thought something was funny or if he was laughing at your stupidity. I saw Sigidur Gudmundson's smirk. Ad Gerritsen was explaining something to Marlene Dumas, who giggled in response. Is it me? I actually really admire the zen attitude in art. Consciousness in every brushstroke is what I should go for in my new paintings. Only a few moments after I finished the Watazumido portrait, I got the confirmation that I had done it all wrong. It came in the form of Wikipedia, they had a much better reproduction of the photo I had painted from on their site than the site I used (couldn't even tell which one as couldn't find it back).

"Rinmon: Rinmon means playing at a crossroads to express one's feelings and show one's skill. It comes originally from the Kinki area. A 76 cm. Hotchiku was used."
Those words were used on the back of the record The Mysterious Sounds of the Japanese Bamboo Flute to describe my top 100 song, and those words are too good not to quote. I realize that I have now music from, Sado, Kinki, and possibly Lesbos in the Top 100, as well as two musicians that occupy that special place, the crossroads. Robert Johnson is obviously the other one.
Watazumi Doso Roshi (1910-1992) was a Zen master, he played the hocchiku, "stressing that to truly understand nature and oneself, one had to use an instrument of the most raw and natural origin." (Wikipedia)

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