Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Life is like an ink painting.

D. T. Suzuki (1870-1966) tells us why life is like a sumi-e ink painting.

Life delineates itself on the canvas called time, and time never repeats; once gone, forever gone; and so is an act once done, it is never undone. Life is an ink-painting which must be executed once and for all time and without hesitation, without intellection, and no corrections are permissible or possible." 

"Life is not like an oil painting, which can be rubbed out and done over time and again until the artist is satisfied. With an ink-painting any brush stroke painted over a second time results in a smudge; the life has left it. All corrections show when the ink dries. So is life. We can never retract what we have committed to deeds.”
Drawn with two Niji water brushes, one filled with water, and the other filled with Higgins Eternal ink
 in a Moleskine watercolor book.


Scott Ruthven said...

So true.

Also James, I received my copy of "Color and Light"...thanks for the inscription. The book is well written and it's a treat to see all your wonderful work. You are such a versatile artist!


Tom Hart said...

I love the things I learn (and relearn)from your sketches. In this case, those little, judiciously placed highlights on the glass are a master class in themselves. They read "water" so well.

Thanks!! And Happy New Year!

Tom Hart said...

...Also, I've been meaning to ask you about the Niji brushes. My water brushes are (I think) a different brand, and I've found that the tops/covers don't stay in place at all. Do the covers of the Nijis stay on reasonably well? I'm guessing they're not water-tight - or are they? Assuming they're not, do you have any special tricks for keeping them from leaking in-transit?

Dan Gurney said...

I'd venture to say that D.T., despite his Buddhist credentials, is expressing something less than a half truth here.

Current brain research clearly indicates that our memories actively (and somewhat creatively) reconstruct the past each time we recall anything.

I think life is much more like an oil painting. Because corrections are both permissible and possible we have forgiveness, for example.

Ruby Blue said...

Dan Gurney: Just what I was thinking. Still, I love the words and concepts of the first Suzuki quote here. I guess I don't have to exactly buy into something to appreciate the sentiments. And, James, thanks for posting these lovely inks.

Cindy Skillman said...

James, the sketch is beautiful. I love the variety of shades and marks. You truly have a master's touch with ink. Perhaps even enough to inspire me to give it another try. ;)

Regarding the quote: I think that life is more like a multi-layer mixed media painting. The foundational layers will always be there providing history and depth and perhaps a degree of mystery, but shorn of any ugliness and pain. God doesn't stop until all is well and perfectly lovely and overflowing with joy.

Oh and Tom Hart, in case James doesn't see your question . . . I have the Niji brushes and I carry them in my pencil case where they don't leak at all. The covers stay on until I remove them. Well worth the extra cost.

James Gurney said...

Hi, everybody, I've been reading and enjoying all your comments. The philosophical discussion is very thought-provoking. I guess what I'm taking away is that deeds and actions are what they are -- words are said, contracts are signed, seeds are planted and vases broken. But how we remember those actions afterward, and how we repair injuries or errors is indeed malleable--or like an oil painting.

Tom, I agree with Cindy. Whenever I've bought other brands of water brushes, I've found problems either with leaks or loose caps. The Nijis have just the right amount of snap to keep the caps on.

Tom, thanks for the kind words about the sketch. I was fascinated by all the little specs of light at the bottom of a water glass, and of course had to paint around all of them with the brush pen.

Scott, glad you enjoy the book, and thanks for the compliments.

Dan, I just listened to a Radiolab epidode that talked about the inventive quality of memory, and how our recalling of events actually changes the memories. I guess that's how tall tales came to be.

Anonymous said...

A magnificent statement on life and living it. Thank you.