Zen Enso Circle Art and Practice Blog

Blog about the art and practice of drawing the Zen Enso Circle.



Wabi-sabi Enso Art

©Janine Ibbotson, "Root," sumi ink on rice paper,  10 x 8  inches, signed with Well Frog seal, red ink, lower right, 2015.

©Janine Ibbotson, "Root," sumi ink on rice paper, 10 x 8 inches, signed with Well Frog seal, red ink, lower right, 2015.

What is wabi-sabi? It is the beauty of things imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete. It is the beauty in things that are modest and humble and also the beauty of things that are unconventional. Some might say that Enso Circles are forms of wabi-sabi abstract art.

So many causes and conditions go into the creation of each circle such as water, pigment, paper, and brush. And then there are the very important factors related to the one holding the brush such as the focus, concentration, and even mood and confidence. With all these different factors in play, one never really knows how a brush stroke will appear.

The wabi-sabi aspect of enso art relates to circles that are different than expected. Perhaps they are slightly off kilter, or have drips and splashes, or blurring and running of the ink. In this art, a mistake is no less perfect than a non-mistake. Also there is value in recognizing and interacting with what one perceives as a mistake. It is one way that an enso like a mirror, providing a place and space to see one's mind in the form of judgments (either positive or negative) that come up about the qualities of a circle or a session of practice.