Zen brush painting is an ancient practice of clearing the mind and allowing what comes — your true nature — without effort for something. It is a practice of presence and simplicity.

It’s much less about making beautiful, simple paintings than it is about experiencing and expressing a moment of bliss, or enlightenment.

“Zen brush painting is not about your talent, knowledge or skill. It’s not about you. It is about your True Universal Self, not the separate being you think and believe you are. Let all of that go. Empty yourself of yourself. Let the universe use this empty vessel to express itself through the brush, ink and paper,” says Peter Cutler, a monk, artist and spiritual teacher.

“Let the painting unfold by itself. Learn to trust the brush, ink, and paper. Learn to trust life. Hold the brush over the paper and let it move by itself. Watch it dance free of all expectations, opinions and goals. It will surprise and delight you.”

The technique of true Zen brush painting, one in which the spiritual practice is the focus, often entails only one stroke of the brush, which is executed during the span of one breath.

With that in mind, I would not strictly call “Sing” a Zen brush painting, though I also approach my creative work with a sense of being a vessel or conduit for allowing something to emerge. That sense of bliss, a moment of feeling connected with a universal something that calls that simple image out of me, resonates in a similar way as it does for Peter Cutler and other Zen brush artists. 

About “Sing”: I made two strokes that imply the shape of a bowl. With the word “sing” and a touch of color, the bowl became so much more in my mind. Beyond a singing bowl for meditation or a food bowl for holding nutrition, it became a metaphor for the limitlessly expansive universe. Airy, free and spacious. I also feel its call to action to express ourselves with confidence and joy, to sing out with all that we are.

Prints of “Sing” are available in the shop.