450 Days of Silence 2010-2012

We built our own retreat cabin, closed our bank accounts, and went into what was supposed to be a three year silent retreat. Due to extraordinary circumstances, the silent retreat ended early in the spring of 2012. During the retreat, Stephane and I practiced silence together, including a rigorous schedule of practices that began at 3:30am and ended at 9pm. A few hours everyday was devoted to documenting the journey through drawing. The result is a narrative that flows through thousands of drawings. Below is a small selection of some of the milestones and highlights. 

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Change itself is Empty

Sumi ink on Xuan paper, 2011, 55" x 55"

On the left side is ancient Chinese seal script. On the right side is the even more ancient script of archaic pictograms. In between is eons of evolution in a single frame. There are five animals, each representing one of the elements in the body/cosmos. Turtle is earth. Fish is water. Dragon is fire. Horse is wind. Bird is space. The central axis pulls them apart into their primal elements. The elements dissolve and reemerge in a new form. 

Below are small ink studies that explore the different kinds of strokes to be employed in the finished piece.  

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Space itself is Empty 

oil on canvas, 2011-2012, 19" x 22" 

A portrait of Stéphane. The squares are earth element. The horizontal dance is the water. The diagonal squares arching upwards are fire. The shooting verticals are wind. The crown of semi-circular rays are space.  

Below are various studies in watercolor and ink that explore many possible forms and compositions of this subject matter.  

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Fire in Winter 

oil on canvas, 2011-2012, 19" x 22"

It is a cold day, and we are low on propane for our heater. Wrapped in a cocoon of wool blankets, I am meditating on the element of fire. All of the sudden it starts to blaze.

- Journal Entry

Below are ink studies of the five elements within a body/cosmos.

Daily Sketches 

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