JANINE IBBOTSON

Artist's Statement

 
 

I am a contemplative artist who is interested in art forms not only for their beauty and power but as they serve as a way to uplift and inspire others. I most often works with traditional sumi ink and watercolors on a variety of rice papers from Japan and China. I also works on shikishi board (fine handmade art paper mounted to a board with a gold trim) and with acrylics and mixed media on canvas.

I create my Zen Circle art in practice sessions where I draw one mindful circle after another, sometimes drawing a hundred circles or more in a sitting. I sometimes refers to these sessions as "enso improvisation" because the process creates the space for mindful practice and a flow state with free, intuitive brush strokes.

Sessions of enso improvisation practice produce a surprising range of unique and distinctive art. Some circles are bold and dynamic while others are ethereal, subtle, and delicate as if conveying the essence of light filled rainbows or the subtle shades of the light of the moon.

Whether I draw circles singly or in extended practice sessions, each circle is drawn in one stroke and in one breath. I strive to make each brush stroke in complete awareness. I am inspired by all the materials of practice: ink, paint, brushes, rice paper, mounting, seals, and canvas. I am also inspired by nature, the creative process, and the writings and arts of enlightened sages.

 

 Well Frog seal

Well Frog seal

Artist's Name: Well Frog

I have a number of artist names given to me by the teachers that I have studied with. One of them is the "Well Frog" and it is inspired by a Chinese fable. Here is how the story goes: Once upon a time there is a frog who lived at the bottom of a well. He was born in that well and lived there his entire life. It was a comfortable place where he felt like he was king of the world. One day, a bird landed on the top of his well, looked down, started a conversation, and eventually told him about the vast lands beyond his well, that there are mountains, rivers, and a great wide earth.

But the frog didn't believe him having only known the inside of his well. Eventually, with much coaxing from the bird, the frog came up from the bottom to look out. And when he saw how vast the world was, his mind was blown.

The well frog is a famous idiom in Chinese culture. It is a reminder to be open minded, to look broad, to expand one's vision, and to be aware of the resources and diversity of the world. The well frog story is also related to Zen and the Zen arts which are often playful and have layers of meaning. There is a Zen poem which talks about a well frog. It says, "The frog at the bottom of the well swallows the moon. "