Monday, August 17, 2009

Enso, Zen circles of Enlightenment






Actually, the letter 'o' in the Japanese word 'enso' has a short line above it. The enso is a circle and is one of the most prevalent images of Zen art. As a symbol, the circle expresses the totality of our being. The Zen enso symbolizes enlightenment, power, and the universe itself. It can also mean 'empty' or 'void'. Some artists practice drawing an enso daily as a spiritual exercise. I have not figured out why I am so attracted to circles. I just know I love circles and dots and have been putting them in my paintings for years. When I see a polka dot scarf or a pair of socks in the store I can't NOT buy them. I have tote bags and towels with dots and circles. I even get excited when I see dashes, spots, and splatters on walls, sidewalks, cloth, wallpaper, artwork and so on, which is probably why I am dashing and splattering my paintings as well. To me the circle represents a continuing action through all time. It is never ending, and recurring through eternity. It is circular, repeating itself over and over. It also can have no meaning or cause outside itself. It can just be texture to me with no more meaning than that I love drawing and painting circles, dots and dashes in my work.
This might also explain why I love to sit on the beach and watch the waves come in over and over. The never ending action is soothing, calming and meditative to me. Is there a symbol or color or object that keeps showing up in your work?

15 comments:

Leslie Avon Miller said...

Fun post Donna! Love the sneakers...It was interesting to learn about enso. I'll have to think about what consistently shows up in my work. Great question.

Blue Sky Dreaming said...

Interesting post, Donna, very informative. I have a love for circles and squares. For some time I was putting circles inside squares. I'm working with the compass now so the circle is a strong element. Fun, thinking about polka dots...very joyful!

willow said...

I've always had a thing for dots.

alteredbits said...

wonderful post and accompanying photos! i have always had a thing for circles as well, oddly, though i'll typically put one "focal circle" as i call it in a piece or just a couple, rather than several. i seem to create dotted lines pretty often as well. my most prevalent symbol is probably a swirl though. like a broken circle, spinning inward on itself. i wonder what that means? i can't think of a piece i've created with at least one swirl drawn, painted, scratched or etched into it.

John said...

Great series of examples culminating in your stoic peaceful creation...just flows.

When I did quilts - mangled images - I often played with words and dots and numbers - etch and sketch kind of cut and paste....Numbers in particualtr at one point including fractions.

I like repetiton. I like repetiton.

Kelly Marszycki said...

This is a fun bit, Donna! Another intriguing exploration -- I guess I'm attracted to rust -- rust colors, rust patterns, rivulets of rust, blisters of rust -- especially around highway underpasses. Someday I will gather my thoughts and work with that. Thanks for the prompt.

BT said...

Hello, I've come from Seth's Altered Page. Lovely blog, super photos and art. I've always had a thing for triangles, but now I'm softening to spots and circles too. I recently joined Seth's 'Disintegration Project' and my finished piece was very triangular, so they are still there, lurking.

Margaret Ryall said...

Ditto to all your comments Donna. I am circle obsessed as is my daughter. I can't remember a time when a circular shape or form hasn't made my heart flutter.

ArtPropelled said...

I'm dotty about spots...and rocks. Love the collage/painting! I'll probably say that every time...your work delights me.

india said...

it's why i like printing with the juvenile leaves of Eucalyptus cinerea...all those lovely orange spots!

Mary Buek said...

Donna, I'm with you all the way. . . can't pass up a good circle or dot. Sometimes I think I use way too many of them in my paintings. I'm trying to cut back. But it's hard. I can't help myself. . . I'm addicted to circles. I need a support group.

elizabeth said...

You have a beautiful collection of stones. My similar collection of gray with white circles were picked up off the east coast on Montauk Point.

jgy said...

Lately I've been interested in diamonds.
But I love the circle and dots too.

Lovely circles and thoughts!
Happy days to you...

karim said...

Very thoughtfull post on enlightenment. It should be very much helpfull

Thanks,
Karim - Mind Power

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