Using dark and light in Zen drawing

November 1, 2011 in Blog bericht, Buddhism, pencil drawing by admin

Dark and light


In realistic Zen drawing, the contour or outline of the subject can be important. Drawing the outline of your subject is a perfect starting point for your Zen drawing. The level of ‘perfection’ of the shape might reflect your level of concentration. Your drawing is like a rubber-stamp, and you can use it to discover at what point your concentration was well focused, or where it was less, or not focused at all.

As mentioned earlier; the resulting contour drawing looks delicate and fragile and has little artistic value. At least, that’s not the intention of the drawing. Adding some shadows and contrast will give the contour drawing a different appearance. It will become more lively and spirited and I guess, the artistic value will increase. If you feel that the essence of your subject is on paper, there is no need to continue the drawing.

It is my personal opinion that, by adding more and more to your drawing, you will add more of your personality. This is a personal choice, but it’s not necessary for your Zen Drawing or better: Zen experience.  On the contrary; Zen tries to go beyond your personality. Your personality (or Ego) might even interfere with your Zen experience. The essence of the drawing might disappear when you are adding to much dark, or trying to perfect the drawing (make it look real). It’s part of the Zen practice to know or feel when to stop drawing.


This last drawing balances somewhere between the Zen drawing and the ‘normal’ drawing. I guess I could not really let go of the quality of the result. Still, by drawing this landscape, and forcing myself to look even better, I became more and more aware of what I saw. I realized I had been deliberately ignoring the industrial elements in the landscape that I didn’t like. By drawing these ‘ugly’ elements, my opinion changed somehow. I guess I accepted the reality of what was really there.

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