Zen Buddhism is associated with many activities in meditation, martial arts, sports and arts. But very few people think of realistic pencil drawing as a 'Zen practice'. The truth is that any activity can be used to reach a meditative state of mind. I use realistic drawing in such a way that it can be described as a meditation technique. It is a different way of seeing and drawing, and if you compare it to more mainstream drawing methods that are taught in the West, you could say that Zen drawing takes less effort and it's more about enjoyment than it is about the result.
The most important reason why Zen drawing is different from mainstream drawing techniques is because you use your 'drawing reflex'. This magical reflex lets your hand move simultaneous with the movement of your eyes. In other words; while your eyes scan the in- and outlines of the subject, your hand draws the lines on paper. You do not even have to look at your paper; you draw blind, it is a truly magical experience! You don't need any drawing experience to use this reflex. All you need is a peaceful and open mind, some trust, concentration and focus. You will probably experiences 'failures' as well but that is all part of the practice. And because you are not worrying about the result that much, you have the time to really see what’s in front of you and enjoy what you see.
I got into Zen drawing after reading the books of Frederick Franck, founding father of this technique. He inspired many people around the world. Some of them participate in the Facebook drawing community, which is a low profile and friendly platform where everyone can share their drawings and experiences.
The results of Zen drawing are quite recognizable: delicate and detailed drawings that look spontaneous and still. People with all kinds of handwritings produce similar kind of drawings. I personally use this way of drawing as the basis for all my work, including water coloring and ink painting.
Zen drawing teaches you how to let go of your thoughts and of the results. Funnily enough, the results will improve by itself. I have seen and heard many people who got back their joy in drawing again.
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