Janine Ibbotson

Zen Enso Circle Art and Practice Blog

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



Practice Pages


©Janine Ibbotson, "This - Just This," ink on paper with Mountain seal, 2019.

I normally create mirror ensos, that is ensos without any added text. Often Zen artists add words to their art and this is traditionally done in Chinese or Japanese. As my calligraphy is not yet polished in these languages, I am taking inspiration from Vietnamese Zen master, Thich Nhat Hanh, who has been kind enough to write inspirational phrases in the languages of his students.

Recently in practice sessions, I have began to practice my calligraphy by adding words to my enso circles and I have been using Thich Nhat Hanh’s style of calligraphy. Some of these practice pages are drawn on printer paper so the brush strokes are not as beautiful as those drawn on rice paper. But I like them for their spirit, for the fact that they are the evidence of a steady and continuing practice of calligraphic meditation.

My meditation teacher talks about ways to practice with the mind. One discipline is to consciously put effort into bringing one’s attention back to a chosen object of attention. This is usually the breath, a mantra, or a koan. For this brush practice, the object of attention is the enso.

To differentiate my practice pages from my fine art, I am signing them with special seals. This image, “This - Just This,” is one of my most recent practice pages. It is signed with a small seal that I made a few years ago with the outline of a mountain range.