Seeking The Olive Branch

meditation, painting, philosophy


‘Seeking the Olive Branch’.

It’s there if we look. That symbol of renewal and rebirth.

Planting it comes next, and following that nurturing it for transformation.

This will take work and determination and a simpler attitude to life, so that there is time to water it daily and provide a healthy environment.

‘Seeking The Olive Branch’ – Clare Wassermann – ink, gesso and windfalls

‘Completion’ – Clare Wassermann – ink, gesso and windfalls

Circles in general feature often as a symbol in Buddhism. Mandalas representing the universe are made in sand to remind Tibetan Buddhists of impermanence and as an aid to concentrate the mind. The idea of the Dharma Wheel, the wheel of reality is important and is said to turn in both directions.

The ensō  is one of the most common subjects in Zen calligraphy. It symbolises enlightenment, power, and the universe itself. It is a direct expression of thusness or this-moment-as-it-is.

Generally it is a brushstroke, or sometimes two, painted in a single breath and can be symmetrical or irregular, thin or thick, heavy or delicate. They are generally accompanied by a verse (san) composed either by the artist or a separate commentator. The enso acts as a visual koan.

Koan pictures, alongside the riddle of the words, represent that moment between not being and being enlightened. The idea is that everything around one can be used as an aid to enlightenment and one just needs to have eyes to see it and apply it to whatever problem you are facing in the moment.

The circle may be open or closed. If it is open it represents beauty in imperfection and  transience (wabi-sabi), allowing for movement and developmentand if closed, perfection and completion.

The notion of wabi-sabi is that beauty is found in combinations of symmetry, irregularity, simplicity, weathering, basicness, simplicity, without pretence, freedom and tranquillity.

Painting of Enso is be used as a spiritual practice as often as once a day by many practitioners. Once painted it evidences the state of the practitioner at that moment and is not added to or redrawn.

This spiritual practice of writing Japanese calligraphy for self-realization is called hitsuzendō meaning ‘the way of the brush’. 

I am currently working with the breath to create enso.

Enso 2 – Clare Wassermann
Enso 3 – Clare Wassermann

The breath is life, ch’i, prana, the vital force. Don’t take it for granted.


Current exhibition online:
“Out Of Darkness Cometh Light” – a collection of work by twenty one artists in Wolverhampton remaining creative during lockdown: http://www.newhamptonarts.co.uk/out-of-darkness-cometh-light/?fbclid=IwAR22tcQ0VMWu38m65qHXZHC2J1jFsDH6Kde3RvsIp5kseVV2I6pSD8j3Lis

Staying In is the new Going Out

Art, painting, PhD, Sketchbooks

So I think it is week 7 of Lockdown – although truly, after Boris’ unclear and blurred message to the nation last night it is hard to say if it is still to be classed as such. You are supposed to go to work if you can. Well I think it is very premature myself. The traffic hum is more this morning – a big increase – those felt impelled to go to the workplace out of need or pressure from employers

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The world laughs at the UK, at our incompetence, and the government attempts to PR itself into a what is a self congratulatory flag-waving mess.

Anyway – I have found it hard to create or find meaning in creativity. Maybe it iscreeping in more now. I have no income but it seems wrong to try to create art to sell when there is so much loss and sacrifice around. It seems trite.

I have more recently gone back to making art to think instead. Occupying the hands. Taking the chatter away by doing and creating space for more important questions. Mostly my sketchbooks are the place for that. My thinking spaces contained within a holding place for a doing thing.

I have a couple of small paintings on the go, a large piece of creative stitching and the increasing volume of sketchbook work.

I wonder how it is for everyone else who makes art?

how making looks sometimes – collage to think

“Be The Change – Fear Not This Liminal Space”
Collage made to think and participate in art challenge at University of Wolverhampton
“Be The Change, Fear Not This Liminal Space”
Bird In A Window 1 -work in progress – oil on canvas 12″x 12″


Bird In Window 2 Work in progress – oil on canvas 12 x 12″

Otherwise I do big physical things in the garden, small detailed things in the garden, walk and practice yoga. I try to shop for others, more needy once a week and participate in some family cooking and attempts at positive thinking.

Self Portrait – Indian Ink, watercolour, gouache and stuff to hand – May 2020 – bike emerging from ear!

My preference would have been for the government to look at making it safe to cycle here – semi closing roads and allowing us to commute, exercise and shop safely by bike. Wishful thinking.