This painting is part of a series called Breath Portraits. I sit in connection with my breath. I then pour ink on the paper and breathe it around the page. Working intuitively, connection to breath is at the heart of this work.
You could say that I made this painting in the barn-turned-studio at Art Monastery Vermont, with light pour through the gaps in the wooden walls in the summer of 2008. You could say that I began this painting in 2007, between Art Monastery Italia and my studio in the dogpatch of San Francisco, when I returned to painting with an interest in its connection to contemplative practice.
In the summer of 2018, I prepared my materials and then began as I always do: I lit a candle, offered incense, invoked Qwan Yin: bodhisattva of compassion, the mother of all buddhas, the divine feminine who I consider to be the trans bodhisattva (she manifests as different genders at will). I sat with paper and ink ready and simply waited, in connection with my body and the larger world. Eventually some impulse arose and compelled me to move. I made that central black mark. I bowed.
About the title
The title comes from the sutra Song of the Jewel Mirror Samadhi. I chanted this sacred text almost every day as part of the pre-dawn service that I participated in while living at Green Gulch Farm / Green Dragon Zen Temple on and off from 2014 to 2018. This sacred poetry was the first of the buddhist liturgy that really spoke to me. To keep it near my heart, I memorized it. I continue to return to it in my meditations on the cushion and in the studio.
The original painting, now in a private collection, is ink on paper, 12x9".
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